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Friday Flix: Jonesing for Guerilla Marketing

June 3, 2011

A couple weeks ago as I was lying in bed thinking of book marketing–because that’s what every sane person does while trying to get to sleep–I thought of the movie, “The Joneses” and not just because Demi Moore is smoking hot in it. *

The movie (which I don’t think was ever in theaters but you can find it on Netflix) involves a team of actors who pose as a family.  Their company stations them in an affluent neighborhood where they pretend to be a normal family called the Joneses.  Big companies give them products (cars, clothes, gadgets, right on to food and drink) to use around people so that those people will buy said products.  The challenge for the Joneses is to endear themselves to the various audiences (adult women, adult men, teenage boys, and teenage girls) to make their guerilla marketing effective.

What got me thinking is, wouldn’t that be great if you could do that for your book?  Pay some attractive actors to sit around Starbucks, the mall, libraries, schools, airports, etc. with a copy of your book.  When people ask what the book is about, the actors subtly pitch the product.

The downside is that you’d have to find good actor/salespeople and you’d have to sell a hell of a lot of books to pay for them.  From a cost standpoint I suppose it’s not practical.  Maybe I can scrape together $20 to bribe a hooker to sit around one Starbucks with my book.

Another non-cost-effective tactic would be to order a bunch of extra copies of the book and leave them around at Starbuckses and so forth in the area.  Actually a few years ago I heard of a website where people do something like that.  Once they finish the book they leave it around somewhere so someone else can read it and then maybe do the same.

I did do something like that once by donating a copy of Where You Belong to my local library.  They of course did not put it on the shelf, but maybe some old person dumped it into a bag at a Friends book sale.  In which case the old bat’s in for a big surprise!

Anyone have any good guerilla or “viral” marketing ideas that don’t cost a bunch of money?

Monday it’s a first for the blog…

*Seriously, she looks a lot hotter than in the early 90s when she did movies like “A Few Good Men” and “GI Jane” where she seemingly was trying not to look hot.  For those who don’t care about hot women, the guy going undercover as the teenage boy has a whole gay subplot thing.  (I really have no comment on the hotness or not of David Duchovny.)   But yay,  something for everyone!


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  1. Bwahahahaha! Interesting idea…

  2. On the other hand, if the attractive actors sit in Starbucks reading your book on their ipad/kindle/bookotron then they are no use at all.

    • That is a very good point. But maybe I could get a kickback from Apple/Amazon/etc. to help them sell more of their products!

  3. I’ve no ideas on marketing that cost little or no money aside from book bloggers which are now swamped with books due to the Amanda Hocking thing.

    I’ve heard that now it’s impossible to get your book reviewed by anyone that has any traffic to their website. The only ppl that will read your book now is someone that runs a book blog that gets maybe four hits a month.

    • The price of success I suppose. Which is why authors will have to come up with even more unorthodox ways to get people to read their books. Your religion idea then does have some merit. Find something with a built-in following, which is why Hollywood does so many movies tied to an establish property from superheroes to board games.

  4. Just remembered that I told you to join a religion of some kind…Mormons seem to be big book buyers. That would only cost you 10% and if your book was about Jesus I bet they’d buy it.

  5. Hahah yeah probably not cost-effective. Unless you could invent attractive robots. Sorry. I’m reading “Pretties” right now and it’s got me all in the future.

    So, I saw that you tagged me in a spiderweb post right after I posted mine in which I tagged you. So have we canceled each other out?

    • Robots are a little beyond my means, but maybe I could find some mannequins, dress them up, put my book in their hands, and prop them up at strategic locations?

      Hmmmm…is there some sort of blogger rules committee I can petition about that?

  6. Let me tell you what has not yet made me rich:

    1. Offering free books to any library or school that wants one. My local library purchased a copy of “Eclipse,” and it’s on the shelf, but that’s it. No other library has yet taken me up on the offer.

    2. Contacting book clubs and suggesting they read my book, and offering to give them discounts.

    3. Contacting my library to do a reading. They rejected the idea, but I later rejected my library and have now found a new one.

    4. Offering deals on my books through my blogs; I still offer “Buy 3, get two free,” but I have not yet received an email saying “You owe me two free books,” so I assume everyone wants to pay full price.

    5. GIVING AWAY FREE COPIES to people who comment. Two people who won a contest I used to have — just comment and you’ll be entered for a drawing — never bothered to tell me what book they want. On the other hand, a person who DID win one is still awaiting her copy and I should go order it right now but I’m commenting here.

    6. Getting famous people to take note of my book: I have had one copy of a book autographed by a rock band AND Patrick Rothfuss, as part of a charity package, and neither of them ever said “Hey, by the way, I read the free copy you gave me and it was awesome.”

    7. “Take a Book for Charity.” That’s why I was getting the autographs: to make the book more valuable (and connect it with famous people) to raise money for the Shaw Twins:

    But after Neil Gaiman ignored me, it kind of petered out. I still have the autographed book, plus a Patrick Rothfuss book.

    8. Book reviewers: I sent copies to a couple of book reviewers; one waited forever to review it and then gave it a paragraph. And now I can’t even find the site that reviewed it, so not much use there.

    Leaving books laying around seems like what Brian did on Family Guy with his script, so I don’t think that’s a good idea.

    Here’s my idea, though: We should start a “Give A Book” club: Each of us who has written/published something can join the club, and at least 1x per year, you have to GIVE A BOOK (clever, right?) written by someone else in the club. It can be more than 1x per year, but that’s the minimum.

    Interested? It’s kind of on the honor system, but we could also put it on our respective blogs and invite others to join, and tweet about it, etc., to give it some publicity, and then you’re getting a book OUTSIDE of our circle.

    The other idea I had: #weekendreading, which I started last night: On Thursday nights, list 1 or 2 books you suggest for people to start that weekend. I mentioned Rogue’s last night. If we ALL do it, it’s a trend.

    If you’re interested in the Give A Book Club, drop me a line at thetroublewithroy[at] Put “give a book” in the subject line or I probably won’t read it. Father’s Day is coming up, and my father-in-law loves to read, so I’ll start it off by ordering a book, or two or three.

    Anyway, that’s my thoughts.

    • You know I was just thinking that with the popularity of these “awards” and “tagging” maybe we should do something like that. “Tag” someone or give them an “award” where they have to name a self-published book they’ve read or want to read. Wouldn’t that be far more useful and interesting than whether you’re “hawt” or what wallpaper is on your screen?

  7. My “Marketing for the Arts” class I took always said you shouldn’t pay a lot of money for good marketing. I love the celebrity sighting idea. I think marketing a book in a way that’s easy for people to learn more about it, i.e. book trailers, is much better than making them, you know, read about it. People want quick these days, so anything that gives them easy access & an even easier buying process is good.

  8. I’ve been thinking about the whole “People want quick” thing that everyone stands by. I honestly don’t think that this is true. I think that true readers want more information. They want in-depth reviews to intrigue them from someone that has “actually read” the text. Readers are out there, being turned off by all the glitz and glam of book trailers and whatnot (I read a lot and have never looked at a dumb book trailer). Somehow we’ve got to move past the uninteresting and boring “ZOMGAH THIS BOOK IS GREAT!!!” to some other means of conveying how good a book is.

  9. I think we should call it an “Indie Book.”

    By the way: Watch for my upcoming “Rum Punch Review” of “John Dies At The End,” which not only has a great ending, but also an “afterword” that I actually read and which is amazingly inspiring.

    (That’s not a plug; it’s actually related.) You can tell it’s not a plug because a plug would’ve had a link.

  10. Sometimes there are just certain things that (for me) are just going too far to get people to read my book. Since I published my book, the ineffective marketing has taken up so much time I barely even write anymore. I’m almost to the point where I feel “Fine, don’t read it.” Let it sink to the bottom…lol

    From what I’ve noticed, one key is writing something that is popular. I have one writing friend who wrote a post-pandemic book. She does little marketing yet sells at least 1-4 a day because apparently it’s popular (who knew?). She doesn’t even have a blog or website.

    As for giveaways, I’ve done that. It’s not all that effective (at least for me). There comes a point where you just don’t want to give them away anymore. The only giveaway that was use for me was the one on Goodreads. I gave away 3 paperbacks, and my book got some exposure.

    And you’re right. All the good review sites are backed up. That’s why I created my own. (my book can’t be reviewed on it obviously). It gets about 50 – 200 hits a day. Check it out if you like:

    • I don’t think the giveaway on Goodreads did much for me, except now there are used copies for people to sell. Especially annoying are the people who give it 1 star and 2 stars without saying anything. Geez, guys, thanks a pantload for that. But yeah if you have something popular people will be more apt to find it. For one thing it might have keywords leading people to reading it. But I did sell 38 eBooks last month, so that was good.

  11. Marketing is one really good reason to go the traditional route for publishing if at all possible. Otherwise, just keep pushing it out there and get all friends and family involved.

    • Sure but even the “traditional” way anymore you have to do a lot of your own marketing.

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