How I Used Email Marketing to Propel My Book to #127 on Amazon

June 2nd, 2010 by Anthony Schneider

Once upon a time there was an author who wrote a book that got published. He was very excited and wanted to promote the book. The publisher helped, booking readings, radio and television appearances. The author built a Web site and threw a book party. He tried hiring a PR firm, but that was too expensive, so he turned to email marketing.

Okay, the author is me, and the book, published by Penguin/Berkeley, is Tony Soprano on Management. Since I was already in the email marketing business, I thought I’d put my alt tags were my mouth was—and send an email or two. Couldn’t hurt, right?

I sent the email (okay several emails) to just about everyone I knew. I segmented the transmission lists, so people who lived in cities I was visiting got announcements of those readings, better friends and family received emails with news of TV and radio appearances, and everyone got at least one “Greetings from the Bada Bing” missive.

And here’s what happened. One of those emails landed in the inbox of a friend who happened to be working for CNN Money at the time. A few days later the book was featured on CNN Money. Another friend was inspired to write an article comparing the management style of Donald Trump and Tony Soprano (“The Don Versus The Donald”), which featured the book and yours truly. Another friend suggested that her boss Paula Zahn interview me. Another friend unsubscribed. (Why I oughta… but that’s another story). You get the idea—a few happy snowballs. It all came together one day when the book was on the CNN.com and AOL homepages, and for a few shining hours my book soared on Amazon, eventually hitting #127. I didn’t topple Dan Brown from his perch, but I certainly broke through the fog of business books.

First things first. If your book gets published, make sure it’s available. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDaily and your local bookstore are good places to start. Make sure you have a Web site, so someone looking for the book can find info about it, you, and how to order. If booking agents, companies or foreign publishers are trying to find you, they’ll likely find your Web site pretty easily. Which is a good thing (provided you have one).

Once that’s done, implement a modest email marketing plan. It won’t take a lot of time or money, and email is the best way to make sure all your friends and family know that your book has been published. It also just might spur some further marketing. Your friends and family are your brand advocates, your early adopters, your, um, friends and family. So use them. Don’t abuse them, but let them help you to get the word out. Mine helped me. (Thank you Gordon, thank you Melissa, thank you Paula, thank you Peter, thank you Beth). I’m not saying everyone will get as lucky as I did with their friends’ publicity and promotion efforts. But hey, you never know.