five unconventional ways to keep your book alive

When I got my first book published in 2006, I was completely and totally naive. Much like the premise of that book (marriage is less about roses and kittens than it is about compromise and hard work), no one told me about the realities of life as a published author.

No one told me that the responsibility of marketing the book pretty much fell on my ignorant little shoulders. No one told me that non-fiction writers need a platform and have to actually leave the house and speak to groups of people a couple times a month.

No one warned me about that sad little acronym OOP (Out. Of. Print.). And just a couple years after publication, two of my four books succumbed.

Rather than blame publishers or editors or agents or my next door neighbor for the failures of my books (well, I did that at first), I determined to quit my crying and step up my efforts to keep the other two alive and kicking. Here’s my (I-wish-I-could-say-this-was) fail-proof plan for making that happen:

5 Unconventional Ways to Keep Your Published Book from Languishing in the Land of OOP:

1. Write an e-book that’s a companion to one of your “real” books.

Four years after husbands started asking me when I was going to write the men’s sequel to my book, Is That All He Thinks About?, I finally did it. In e-book form. Guys, meet the answer to your prayers. The Husband’s Guide to Getting Lucky. And I did a not-so-sneaky (but hopefully not obnoxious) job of plugging Is That All He Thinks About? throughout the pages of the e-book.

Yes, The Husband’s Guide took lots of time to write, and no, I didn’t get a big advance, but it’s also “free” advertising for my other book. And it’s also a really fun, helpful resource for dudes. Win win.

2. Give that e-book away for FREE.

My absolute favorite thing about e-books is that I can give one away to whomever I choose whenever I please, and it doesn’t cost me a dime. I’m always getting in trouble (hi, Gabe) for giving my books away instead of selling them. But in this case my husband’s cool with it, because it’s not costing us money.

And LUCKY YOU. Today, August 2, 2011, I’m giving away The Husband’s Guide to Getting Lucky ALL DAY LONG FOR FREE. All you have to do is trade me a tweet or facebook status update, and the book is yours. It’s easy as pie. Just click the blue button below.

The Husband's Guide to Getting Lucky

3. Pair your living books with your dead books, and give people a rocking deal.

I bought out the remainder (all the copies the publisher had in stock) of my OOP books for about $1 each. And every once in awhile, I’ll sell them in combination with my other books for dirt cheap. Like, say, Is That All He Thinks About? costs you $13, or you can get Is That All He Thinks About?, From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife, and Changing Your World One Diaper at a Time for $15. And I’ll throw in a free e-book.

Win win.

(And, by the way, you can get that sweet $15 deal today too. Just e-mail me if you’re interested.)

4. Find a really cool author to team up with.

I have several author friends who market my books along with their own (and I do the same for them). Here’s a sweet example.

Win win.

5. Get people to donate your books to a really awesome cause.

Over the past two years, my friends and blog readers have donated 562 copies of my book, Expecting, to crisis pregnancy centers around the world. I generally don’t make any money off these books (in fact, I usually lose a little), but it feels really, really good to know that I’ve played a small part in blessing some pregnant mamas in need of some real encouragement.

And these sweet women give me the motivation I need to keep the book in print, so we can keep on giving. (Click here if you’d like to help.)

And there you have it. For more awesome book marketing ideas from some of my writer friends, check out this post from my agent, Rachelle Gardner.

And for a chance to win a 4-pack of all my books, tell me the best book you read (or wrote!) recently.

25 thoughts on “five unconventional ways to keep your book alive

  1. Amanda G

    I just finished a study by Kelly minter,”Loss,Love,and Legacy: The story of Ruth.” it was awesome. My mother in law then bought me the book, the Road Home, a modern retellimg of Ruth’s ancient story. So far it’s been really good.

  2. Amanda G

    Ok so I the post showed up on my facebook page. All I have today is my iPhone for Internet. Will it download to my iPhone? How can I get it?

  3. Dottie Parish

    Hi Marla,

    Thanks for your great ideas about marketing. Your books sound great, too though I’m a grandmother of teen-agers by now. I live near Cincinnati and am self-publishing my God inspired book Changing Churches. Must work on marketing a lot. I’ll tell my friends with young children about you.

  4. Sheree

    Just want to give a shout-out for the book I am currently reading that is rocking my world and settling some things in my soul all at the same time. Marla, because you have such a heart for Cambodia, even though this book is about a lady in Africa, I believe you would love it. “Love Has a Face” by Michele Perry. Fabulous!!!! And by the way, Michele attended Baylor U. in Waco and mentions working with Church Under the Bridge and we attend there sometimes. Love that place, meeting Jesus under the I-35 bridge, score!!!

  5. Sharon W

    I’m currently reading “How to have a 48 hour day.” At first I was skeptical, but now that I’m almost done with the book, I’ve found some helpful tips on how to make the most of my time. Obviously we’ll never truly have 48 hours in one day, but I’m sure getting more done lately than I was before!

  6. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    This has been on my mind a lot (A LOT) lately. Thank you for always sharing with such transparency and openness and humor and love. You are truly one of the most authentic people I have ever met, and I will never stop thanking God that He orchestrated the crossing of our paths.

    Love you, sister.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love YOU. And we need to sit down and chat IN PERSON soon for like 24 hours or something.

      Make sure you check out Rachelle’s post for lots more marketing ideas!! 😉

  7. Pingback: How To Market Your Book | Rachelle Gardner

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