Selling Books by Giving Back

Promoting a un cours en miracles to make money doesn’t mean you can’t be human or caring. By giving back to the community, authors create positive images of themselves and get their faces and books in front of people who otherwise might not be interested in or ever hear about their books. Selling yourself by helping a good cause will not only help you to sell books, but in the end, you will feel good about yourself and feel more connected to your community and the world at large. You might also have some great experiences that will inspire your future books.

While you could go work in a soup kitchen or just donate money, authors can find ways to contribute to their communities that also will help to promote their books. Following are just six of hundreds of possibilities for how authors can give back:

  • Visiting Senior Citizen Centers and Assisted Living Homes. Senior citizens represent a large portion of the reading public, largely because they have more time to read. They also appreciate visitors and interacting with others, and they are likely to tell all their friends and family members, who include children, grandchildren, great-nieces and nephews, in-laws, and cousins, about a book they like. In other words, senior citizens have a lot of connections and can provide great word-of-mouth referrals for your book. Especially if you are writing about history, healthcare, or topics especially of interest to seniors, you might find a group of seniors to be the perfect audience for your book and your message. Many senior centers, assisted living, nursing, and veterans’ homes have reading groups and book clubs, and they are always looking for ideas for event planning. Authors might choose to volunteer to read to seniors at these facilities once a week or month, or simply visit and give a talk about their books. During the visit, be sure to pass out cards or book markers; seniors may not always have the best memories and might not remember your name, but if your book interests them, they will show books they buy or book markers to their visitors and tell them about your book. Seniors also enjoy engaging in the discussions, and if authors are willing to listen, they will have great stories to tell-material for future books.
  • Speaking at Career Day Events for Students. Budding young writers are everywhere, and offering to speak to high school students or college freshman at career day events, or participating in events like Young Authors, can be a great way to give back to your community and provide the encouragement needed that you received or wish you had received as an aspiring young author. Besides speaking to aspiring writers, authors who have written non-fiction books might wish to speak to future historians, doctors, businessmen, or other groups of students whose field of study is relevant to their books’ topics. While students don’t typically have a lot of money to buy books, that doesn’t mean they won’t remember the encouragement you gave them and buy your books when they are older, and they might also tell their parents about your books or ask for them for their birthdays or holidays. Best of all, authors will be planting a seed in young people so that new “keepers of the flame” are born to carry on the gift of writing and storytelling.
  • Public Radio and Public TV fundraisers. Public Radio and Public TV stations love to offer gifts to their listeners and viewers as incentives for donating to their stations. While your book may only cost $25, viewers who give the station $100 might receive it free with their donations, which sells a book for you and helps out the station so it can afford to buy more programming to enrich people’s lives. These stations will want to buy your book at a discount, usually equivalent to what bookstores desire, such as 40 percent. You may not sell a lot of books or make a lot of money directly through this venue, although some authors have done very well this way, but it is a great way to advertise for your book, and while all the viewers might not donate the amount needed to get the free book, you can bet many will buy the book at regular price at bookstores or online. In addition, you’ll now have media contacts at the station who might invite you back when your next book comes out, or interview you, or recommend you to other stations. Some authors have even had local PBS stations make films out of their books if their books are of local interest to their viewing audience.
  • Donating Books. Donating a book may seem like a financial loss, but it can result in publicity that helps sell books, and again, it provides a benefit to an organization. Many libraries that receive donated books from authors have connections with the local media and will take a photo of the author donating the book for their newsletters or even the community spotlight sections of local newspapers-great publicity in exchange for one donated book.

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