How to Market a Book With a BOGO

by | May 6, 2020 | Book Marketing Basics, Marketing Your eBook

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Consumers love a deal, which is why eBook promotions, book bundles, and the like really help to push a book to new readers and need to make it into your plan when deciding how to market a book.

Which is why I love promotions like BOGOs – buy one, get one or give one, or limited time access campaigns – which is what we did for our Master Amazon Video Program. We offered limited access to the video series if readers bought a copy of How to Sell Books by the Truckload during the pre-order phase, and it was really successful.

But there are some rules to follow when figuring out how to market a book with a special promotion like this, if you’re going to do it successfully:

Make Sure it’s Something People Actually Want

I know, this goes without saying, but I’ve had this conversation with a lot of authors and some of them say, “Well, I could give them a chapter of my next book!” Which is totally fine if you have a super strong fan base, but otherwise I’d recommend digging in and finding something that’ll really get the engagement going.

It could be a free eBook – maybe an earlier one you’ve published, or the first one in a series. Or, in my case, I gave access to a learning program, which was something that paired well with my book.

Make it Easy to Share

In order to build momentum, when figuring out how to market a book, you’ll also want something that’s shareable, a fun offer, and something not overly complex. So, buy one, get one, is a great deal but also an easy share.

So, don’t make the steps too difficult for folks – meaning one action equals one result. Multiple step promos may seem like fun, but it’s a lot harder to get folks on board with these and they’re much harder to promote.

How to Market a Book – Different Types of Offers

A BOGO promo doesn’t always have to mean giving a book. It can be anything you want, really – but again remember, it needs to matter to your readers. So, if you’re going to do this, dig in and get creative. Let’s look at some ideas:

  • Partner with Other Authors: This is really fun, if you have some connections with authors in similar genres, see if they’d like to go in on a promo which could mean gifting a copy of their book (digital or print) to whoever bought yours. There has to be some incentive for them to do this, so make sure you’re letting them get in touch with whoever bought your book, so they can potentially add them to their marketing lists as well.

 Why would an author do this? Well, expanding their reach is one main reason. You may have readers they haven’t reached yet – readers who may buy their books, too.

You can also trade promotions. So, you run a BOGO with their book, and then they run a BOGO with one of yours.

  • Swag: A BOGO doesn’t always have to be a book, it could also be swag. We have these great tote bags that read: Ask Me About My Book – authors love these.

But keep in mind that my market is primarily authors, so the tote bag works. Yours will be different, but the tote bag idea is fun and easy.

I had ours made on Etsy in bulk, but you could also get these on Zazzle, which offers some great deals on short run canvas tote bags. Even though we have a lot of bags (I have zillions), we still love these!

  • Digital Gift Packs: If you have a lot of digital content, maybe cutting room floor versions of your book (book content that didn’t make it into the final edition), this would be a fun way to really boost your fan base, too – because avid fan bases always love “director’s cut” stuff.

Remember when movies used to come out with the director’s cut DVD’s etc.? Fans buy these in droves.

But if you don’t have that kind of material you could always do a special interview for your readers, or other collateral pieces like character trading cards. I have these in print, but I also love these in digital too, and give these away in drives.

My trading cards are tips-related – so whether you’ve written fiction or non-fiction, these are often a fun addition to your marketing.

  • Timing and Create Marketing Materials: Your BOGO needs to run for a week, at least – or longer depending on what you’re doing. Meaning if you’re promoting this in a pre-order, as I did, you might want to offer this for two weeks.

We paired this with my books pre-order window which worked great, and we created a variety of marketing materials to support this, with different versions as we got closer to the BOGO deadline.

  • Promote, Promote, Promote: If you’re figuring out how to market a book with a special offer, make a plan to promote it heavily – maybe via your newsletter and social media, or via a Twitter ad or two. Maybe ask other authors you know to share it with their audiences (even if they aren’t involved in the promotion), using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram like: #BOGO #authorpromo #specialdeals.

  • Old vs. New? Does your book have to be brand new to do this? No, it doesn’t.

In fact, you can run a BOGO anytime. While it’s fun to do it at book launch, remember that readers are out there, waiting to find a great new author. You shouldn’t have to wait for your next book launch to do this!

BOGO’s and other special offers are fun ways to build more readership and expand your reach when deciding how to market a book. People love a deal, especially now — and it’s a solid way to gain more traction for your book, your brand, and future titles.

Good luck and if you run a promo like this, or have done one in the past, please let me know in the comments how it did for you!

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  1. Lisette Kristensen

    What is the best BOGO for paperbacks? I was thinking of buy the first book and get the second book free and signed. Does that make sense?

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Yep, that’s a good idea – you could absolutely do that!


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