Welcome to the Coach’s Corner! One marketing tip that’s worthwhile to consider is offering an “heirloom edition” of your book. Whether you’re printing a couple hundred or a couple thousand copies of your book, this can be an easy way to build some interest, spread some good will, and even generate some significant revenue.
How to make it an heirloom
Offering an heirloom edition of a children’s book is a no-brainer. But this can also make good sense for your novel or nonfiction title, too. By way of an example, let’s say you’re printing one hundred copies of a children’s book to test the water. Take out twenty-five copies and personally inscribe them with a signature, and if appropriate, a phrase or sentence from the story. For a children’s book pen an appropriate word of encouragement that fits the story such as, “Follow your dreams!” or “Eat your vegetables!” For a self-help book about finding love jot, “The destination is worth the struggle.” You get the idea.
Number each of these books as an artist would an artist’s proof, “1 of 25” … “2 of 25” … “3 of 25,” et cetera. You’ve just created an element of exclusivity for these copies. If your retail price is $14.95, offer them on your Web site for more, say $25. Make these copies available to your boosters first—those friends and loved ones who have supported and sustained you during the creative process. They may be even more likely to pay a little more for a special signed edition from your first printing.
Just putting the word out there that a special edition is available can often result in more interest and sales. The idea that a product might be collectible or have some greater value because it’s first or early in the book’s life, gives your customers future bragging rights. “I had her first book before her brand exploded.” “I have a signed copy of the first edition of his novel.”
Pay It Forward
Here’s how you can pay it forward. Keep out those first few copies of the book: #1, #2, #3—as many as you choose to give away—and find a couple of organizations that fit your book. A lot of nonprofits will have donor events with silent or live fundraising auctions. Write up a nice description of your book, noting that “this is a personally inscribed heirloom copy,” and donate them to appropriate organizations. If your children’s book is about big dreams, give one to the Make a Wish Foundation. Got a self-help book about overcoming addiction? Give copies to your local chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Have a memoir about beating cancer? Give copies to the local Cancer Association chapter or Breast Cancer research organization.
Silent or live fundraising auctions can be exciting events. Donors will sometimes compete for the oddest items, just because. Whether it’s for bragging rights or to stroke their egos or because they have a friendly rivalry with that other bidder, it’s all for a good cause. A signed first edition of your book might raise hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an organization—some donors can get really excited at these events. You have a feel-good news item for your Web site that might generate more interest in the book or in other heirloom copies, and a warm feeling in your heart that your book’s made a difference in a new way that you hadn’t even considered … before reading this column.