I am twenty three years old, have sold over four thousand copies of my first book in a matter of a month after it's release and recently been contacted for contracts with Random House and Harper Collins for two new titles. I think a good deal of my recent success is highly correlated with my Reading for Charity Contest and the attention it has drawn. I'll explain the entire background, but as pre-thought I think it first manifested itself through a combination of my looking for a good way to market my first book, while balancing out my karma a bit. A way to interweave my love of novel writing, increase my book's visibility and provide a benefit to society in some way shape or form. All of these tasks have seemed to be accomplished- although my karma could still probably use some more balancing.
What is the Reading for Charity Contest?: Over sixty organizations, a group of corporate sponsors, and a handful of volunteers are the result of the charity contest. I took my very recently published book and decided to give away a certain percentage of it's profits to charity. There was a catch though, the charity I will give my book profits to is being voted on, by the readers. So once you read my book, you can go to my webpage or find me at one of my book tours and vote for your favorite cause and the highest voted cause receives the profits (Which should be quite a bit). That was the reading for charity contests basic beginning. It's the focal point of everything else that now surrounds the contest and of course my book. The contest was than expanded on by a few different means which, furthered the accomplishment of my goals.
1) Rather than your basic book tours I turned my book tours into a way to highlight the organizations participating in the contest. I have a large stand representing all of the participating organizations with their information and donation cards. Next came along a couple of benefit events- a silent auction, a couple of benefit dinners etc... Things that were really quite easy to put together, but could have a great benefit for the charity groups I was working with. Now this may seem like a good deal of work, which it was, but the benefits for the organizations had been huge, and the benefits for me personally has been equally spectacular.
The benefits all of this had for me: I was able to get involved with over sixty non-profit organizations and use my book and contest as a way to highlight their efforts and eventually provide them with a financial benefit as well. There is no truer statement that giving is a two way street. In return for my help with the organizations the organizations did their best to help out me. I am featured with my book in over fifty non-profit newsletters, on a large number of webpages, as well as postings and fliers from the organizations. Some organizations have newsletters with readers in the ten of thousands. It is equivalent to being featured in fifty newspapers across the country that are targeted directly to the reader.
2) The book tours are not only philanthropic, but also bring in a good deal of people and create a lot of buzz. After some attention a number of companies offered to sponsor the events. I was able to receive all of my marketing material for my book and contest for free from corporate sponsors. T-shirts, fliers, book marks, posters, business cards, mail outs, coffee cups, even mousepads with my book cover on them. My entire marketing plan which is now pretty extensive costs only about five dollars a month to cover the price of my website, that is it and nothing more.
3) When you have a purpose and are providing aid you directly relate with the community you are assisting. Since the organizations I have involved are spread out throughout the entire United States it has proved to be an excellent source of publicity, from radio, to newspapers, to magazines, even a couple of upcoming television shows. It has given my book an unbelievable pr hook in a market where it is difficult to get a story in a paper just because you recently published a book..
4) In basic when people read my book they are doing more than just being entertained, each copy bought goes directly to a great cause. The readers of the book are allowed to interweave their love of reading with a greater purpose in an interactive fashion. Once again a win-win situation.
I would like to expand a bit on the reading for charity contest idea. I think there are a world of ways to further the efforts and provide the joint benefit for some organizations out there, and assist me in my publication and book marketing endeavors. As a model however it has been incredibly successful, I think there are a lot of incredibly creative ways to market a book on a low budget like I originally had and turn it into a success. Once again I will state that giving something always brings in something, and in my case, it brought in an incredible book career.
Zachary Weiner is 23 and has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. He is the author of the recent novel "City at Night" and the upcoming novels "A Simple fate of twists" Ballantine Books "The Experts Speak" Harper Collins.