Simon Kolz

A weblog by Simon Kolz

Sell Your Book with Pennies

Imagine you share a huge penny jar with each of your potential readers. Every interaction with a reader either adds or subtracts pennies from the jar. When readers need your info (non-fiction) or entertainment (fiction), they will trade the jar for your book, but only if the jar is full. Overflow the penny jar, and your reader will buy nearly everything you write.

Notice there are two conditions for exchanging the jar for your book. First, the jar has to be full enough. Your reader has to believe that you will either answer a burning question for them or entertain them enough to trade in their jar. Second, your timing has to correspond perfectly with their needs.


So how do you fill the jar? Satisfy a need or answer a question for your reader. Let me give you a few examples:

— Answer my question on a discussion list, add a few pennies. — Publish a weekly ezine, and provide me with info I’ve never seen before, add a lot of pennies. — Get a good book review, add some more pennies. — Let me read the first chapter of your novel, add a few pennies. — Add more if you have a website packed with resources. — Personally respond to emails, add pennies. — Write a book that I just can’t put down, and the jar gets really heavy! An interaction with a reader can also take away pennies. Go negative, and you’ve lost your reader for life. Here are a few ways to subtract pennies: — Waste my time with an ezine filled with advertising and boring articles. — Publish an ezine, and then abruptly quit with no explanation.– Ignore repeated emails from your readers, and it’s like dumping out the penny jar.


Here are some personal examples from books I’ve purchased during the last year.My favorite cookbook author sends a free weekly ezine which teaches me something new about healthy eating (the really good articles add quarters instead of pennies to her jar!). She gives me yummy recipes and answers all my emails. I’ve bought every one of her books and signed up for her weekly recipe subscription.

I had a very specific question about publishing in trade magazines. I found a book on a writing site that I thought might answer the question. I searched for the author’s website and sent him an email. I still haven’t received a response to my email, and I never see this author mentioned on the websites I visit. Will I ever buy this book? Probably not.For fiction writers, entertain me with your stories (and yes, I personally want a happy ending that makes me feel good for reading the book, but thankfully not everyone is like me!). I have a core list of authors I search for when I’m looking for entertainment.


When will your reader need your info? Now this is the tricky part. Your potential reader must find you back when they need your answers. Let me give you a couple more examples:

I found Bobette Kyle’s How Much for Just the Spider? book after reading a glowing book review. After visiting her site, I was impressed with the amount of info she had collected (more pennies in the jar). I emailed her to see if her book answered a question I had on book marketing that had been bugging me for weeks. She responded that her book didn’t answer my question, but she gave me the answer anyway. Wow! I was so impressed I bought the book on the spot.Another non-fiction author with an outstanding reputation wrote a seven-day email plan that gave me really good info (plenty of pennies). However, the book didn’t answer a direct need for me. I liked what the author had to say, but I couldn’t justify the price tag for a book I wasn’t sure I needed. So I still haven’t bought the book. Every so often I get an email from the author, usually with several nuggets of useful information, but I still don’t have a compelling need to buy his book. Will I buy it someday? Maybe. Especially if it goes on sale! Or if the author makes the jar overflow.The

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