Writers in the Storm

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September 7, 2020

Give a Little, Get a Lot with Book Promotion BOGOs

by Penny Sansevieri

With summer disappearing in our rearview mirrors, it’s time for writers and authors to grab their calendars and favorite planning tools in order to start brainstorming smart marketing strategies to promote their releases this fall and into the holiday season.

If you’d like to spread a little happiness, consider this: consumers love a deal, which is why eBook promotions, book bundles, and the like really help to push a book to new readers. One of my favorite win-win approaches is the BOGO: Buy One, Get (or Give or Gift) One. You see BOGOs all the time and in various forms. In fact, even Starbucks does these during their happy hour (buy one drink, get one free for a friend).

BOGOS are typically limited-time access campaigns, and people love them. When I recently released How to Sell Books by the Truckload, we used the pre-order phase to offer a BOGO: each purchase entitled the buyer to limited access to our AME Master Amazon Video program. I was thrilled by how successful the strategy was.

Simple BOGO Rules

You can do a BOGO, too! Here are some simple rules to follow to make yours a success. You really want to plan out these promotions; give yourself enough time to create branded images, too!

Make Sure You’re Offering Something People Actually Want

I’ve had the BOGO conversation with many 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, all of whom are clamoring for your next book. Otherwise I’d recommend digging in and finding something that’ll really engage readers. It could be a free eBook – maybe an earlier publication or the first in a series. I gave access to a learning program, which was something that paired well with my book.

Make it Easy to Share

To build momentum, you’ll want to offer something shareable, fun, and not overly complex. Buy One, Get One is a great deal – and it’s also an easy share on social media. Don’t make the steps too difficult – one action should equal one result. Multiple step promos may seem like fun, but it’s a lot harder to get folks on board, and they’re much harder to promote. Keep it (super) simple.

Different Types of Offers

Partner with Other Authors

If you are connected to 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 buys yours. 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 yours. After the promotion is over, you can celebrate by trading marketing lists.


A BOGO can also be swag. For example, we have these great tote bags that read Ask Me About My Book. I had ours made on etsy in bulk, and even though a bulk order means we have tons to give away, we are still loving them – and our authors do, too! If you need a few less than a zillion, you could also go to Zazzle and design your own tote bag – or another piece of swag, as they have everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to stickers, and more!

Buy One, Give One

This is another fun idea, one I often run around the holidays: buy a copy of my book and the purchase allows you to gift one to a friend. Generally, the “gifted” book is an eBook. So the reader sends you their receipt with the name and email and any message they want to include, and you gift the book. This one has been really popular for us, and I’ve used it a lot!

Digital Gift Packs

If you have a lot of digital content, consider offering cutting room floor versions of your book (book content that didn’t make it into the final edition). Avid fan bases always love “director’s cut” stuff. But if you don’t have that kind of material, you could always do a special interview for your readers or create other collateral pieces like character trading cards. I have these in print and digital, and we give them away in droves. My trading cards are tips-related; whether you’ve written fiction or non-fiction, these can be a fun addition to your marketing inventory.

Timing and Creating Marketing Materials

Your BOGO needs to run for a week, at least – or longer depending on what you’re doing. For example, if your promotion is a pre-order strategy, as mine was, you might want to offer it for two weeks. We paired the promotion with my book’s 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 – via your newsletter and social media or a Twitter ad or two. 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, and/or #specialdeals.

Old vs. New? 

Does your book have to be brand new to do this kind of promotion? 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.

BOGOs 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 they’re a solid way to gain more traction for your book, your brand, and your future titles.

What book promotions have worked for you? We'd love to hear about your experience down in the comments!

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About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine. 

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."  

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. 

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com

Top Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

11 comments on “Give a Little, Get a Lot with Book Promotion BOGOs”

  1. I loved the idea of partnering with an author in the same genre to do a BOGO and then reverse the promo to access each others mailing list. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Penny. This great post is especially helpful for the timing ideas. My most successful giveaway: gum. Yes, the chewing kind, flat packs with the book cover on them. My publisher found out how we could get it done and wow, it's popular. Note that in your design you must leave room for all of the ingredients.
    Thanks again.

      1. Oh, Jenny, I have an idea what you go through. For me its a shellfish allergy that includes topical. Yeah, that's right. I can't touch a shrimp. It makes going out to dinner not as much fun as it used to be.

  3. Great ideas.

    There are some authors who have a promo group, and they share other authors' books in their emails in exchange for the same.


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