When it comes to book buying as to almost every human behaviour, most people go by what others are doing. This concept was illustrated in one of my favorite non-fiction books, "Influence," by Robert Cialdini.
He describes an experiment that took place in New York. When one man stood and looked up at the sky, passers-by ignored him. But when a group of 15 did it, a crowd formed within seconds, all looking up and continuing to do so even when they didn’t see anything up there.
How can you get that process started when you want to make people aware of your book? Here are four strategies you can use:
* Offer it for free on Kindle and other sites for one or two days. A friend who is an unknown writer did this with his detective novel and got more than 2000 downloads. He's about to release his second book in the series--it will be interesting to see whether the people who sampled his first one become paying customers for the second one. Obviously this works best if you have or plan to have more than one book and they are part of a series or at least in the same genre.
* Arrange with a charity to give a free copy to people who donate a certain amount of money. If you have a printed book rather than a downloadable one, offer it to the charity as your cost. Obvioulsy not every book is right for this, but yours might just be.
* If you find a person trying to raise money via Kickstarter or another crowdfunding site for a product that is in some way complementary, offer to let the fundrasiers give away a downloadable copy of your book to anyone who kicks in a certain level of money.
* Offer a copy to the most influential bloggers in your arena. It can be worth setting up a print on demand version for bloggers and other reviewers who prefer having a copy they can hold in their hands, even if you mainly want to sell ebooks.
* Get at least 21 reviews on Amazon, even if you have to send out a lot of free review copies to achieve that. An Amazon insider says the magic number is 21 reviews, and while you want most of them to be four or five stars, having one low one in there doesn't seem to put off potential buyers.
If you are trying to sell people on your project or idea, start with those most likely to agree so that by the time you get to the more skeptical ones you’ll have the psychology of group influence on your side.
(For more tips, see my book, Your Writing Coach--it includes a chapter on traditional marketing and one on guerrilla marketing. It's published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)