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Sell Your Book with Pennies

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Title   Sell Your Book with Pennies
Description   This article describes how writers can create readers for life by sharing a penny jar.
Author   Julie Hood
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Article No.  101
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Permission is granted to reprint the following article, in your publication or web site, as long as no changes are made to the articles or copyright info, and the resource box is included with the article.  Please email with the date and location of publication. Thanks!

Copyright 2002 (c) Julie Hood, Finally Organized LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Imagine you share a huge penny jar with each of your potential readers. Every interaction with a reader either adds or subtracts pennies from the jar.  When readers need your info (non-fiction) or entertainment (fiction), they will trade the jar for your book, but only if the jar is full.  Overflow the penny jar, and your reader will buy nearly everything you write.

Notice there are two conditions for exchanging the jar for your book.  First, the jar has to be full enough.  Your reader has to believe that you will either answer a burning question for them or entertain them enough to trade in their jar.  Second, your timing has to correspond perfectly with their needs.


So how do you fill the jar?  Satisfy a need or answer a question for your reader.  Let me give you a few examples: 

-- Answer my question on a discussion list, add a few pennies.   
-- Publish a weekly ezine, and provide me with info Iíve never seen before, add a lot of pennies.

-- Get a good book review, add some more pennies.
-- Let me read the first chapter of your novel, add a few pennies.
-- Add more if you have a website packed with resources.  
-- Personally respond to emails, add pennies.
-- Write a book that I just canít put down, and the jar gets really heavy!

An interaction with a reader can also take away pennies.  Go negative, and youíve lost your reader for life.  Here are a few ways to subtract pennies:

-- Waste my time with an ezine filled with advertising and boring articles.
-- Publish an ezine, and then abruptly quit with no explanation.
-- Ignore repeated emails from your readers, and itís like dumping out the penny jar.


Here are some personal examples from books Iíve purchased during the last year.

My favorite cookbook author sends a free weekly ezine which teaches me something new about healthy eating (the really good articles add quarters instead of pennies to her jar!).  She gives me yummy recipes and answers all my emails.  Iíve bought every one of her books and signed up for her weekly recipe subscription. 

I had a very specific question about publishing in trade magazines.  I found a book on a writing site that I thought might answer the question.  I searched for the authorís website and sent him an email. I still havenít received a response to my email, and I never see this author mentioned on the websites I visit.  Will I ever buy this book?  Probably not.

For fiction writers, entertain me with your stories (and yes, I personally want a happy ending that makes me feel good for reading the book, but thankfully not everyone is like me!).  I have a core list of authors I search for when Iím looking for entertainment. 


When will your reader need your info?  Now this is the tricky part. Your potential reader must find you back when they need your answers.  Let me give you a couple more examples:

I found Bobette Kyleís How Much for Just the Spider? book after reading a glowing  book review.  After visiting her site, I was impressed with the amount of info she had collected (more pennies in the jar).  I emailed her to see if her book answered a question I had on book marketing that had been bugging me for weeks.  She responded that her book didnít answer my question, but she gave me the answer anyway. Wow!  I was so impressed I bought the book on the spot.

Another non-fiction author with an outstanding reputation wrote a seven-day email plan that gave me really good info (plenty of pennies).  However, the book didnít answer a direct need for me.  I liked what the author had to say, but I couldnít justify the price tag for a book I wasnít sure I needed.  So I still havenít bought the book.  Every so often I get an email from the author, usually with several nuggets of useful information, but I still donít have a compelling need to buy his book.  Will I buy it someday?  Maybe.  Especially if it goes on sale!  Or if the author makes the jar overflow.

The ďwhenĒ question can be particularly thorny for fiction writers.  Your readers have so many entertainment options (movies, TV, internet, sports, etc.) that catching them with time to read can be a challenge.  Word-of-mouth is critical to get readers interested in your book.  You may even have to give away a free book to get them started.  Then, regular contact is crucial. 


Yes, the price of your book does matter.  In the example above, I didnít buy one of the books because it was too expensive.  However, if your penny jar is full enough, the price may not matter much.  For example, I never buy hardback novels at regular price.  Why should I when I can get a paperback that will be just as entertaining?  But the other day I spent $22 on a hardback novel.  Why?  Because the authorís penny jar is overflowing.  I will buy nearly anything this author writes.  Finding the correct price point for your book is important, but it isnít the most important factor in getting readers to buy your books.

So as you market your books, be sure to give away those pennies!  Where else can you use pennies to create a reader for life?

 Want to learn more?  Visit

Julie Hood is the author of "The Organized Writer: 30 Days to More Time, More Money and Less Frustration," an ebook with a roadmap for combining a writing career with the rest of your life. She manages the web site and writes Writer-Reminders, a weekly newsletter for writers. Newsletter subscribers receive a free ebook, The Sidetracked Writer's Planner.  When she isn't writing, she sneaks in cleaning house around a busy household with two children, her husband, and two avid golfers. 

Copyright 2002 (c) Julie Hood, Finally Organized LLC.  All Rights Reserved.  Reprinted with permission. 


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