Friday, December 7, 2018

Whopper Sells For A Penny – Should Books?

The other day I saw a full-page ad for Burger King. It was highlighting a promotion for stealing McDonald’s customers away. If you are in or near a McDonald’s (within 600 feet) and you use a special app to order a Whopper from Burger King, you get it for a penny. What a steal – literally, right out of the mouth of arch-rival and fast-food leader McDonald’s.  Does book publishing operate this way?  Should it?

When it comes to how specific books are marketed or promoted, I can’t say that I recall seeing anything like the BK-McD feud.  You just don’t see one author or publisher saying, “Hey, buy this book for 10 cents, not my competitor’s.”

Of course the main reason is that such a move would not be profitable.  Authors and publishers don’t want price wars. They all lose in that scenario. No one wins any kind of lasting market share or has any chance of repeat business.

So why do two corporate food giants battle it out so publicly?  Because there’s a bit of brand loyalty that develops.  If someone tries a Whopper and likes it, they may stick with BK long after the prices are jacked up.  Plus, once you come in to get a Whopper for a penny, you may spend money on other items – and bring a friend with you.  Plus, in terms of market share., BK gets to deny revenue to McD’s they would have otherwise earned.

Should authors attack each other’s books more, especially when they are in the same genre or about the same subject matter?  Do consumers want authors to trash talk another book?  By putting one book down, it doesn’t ensure readers will buy your book when so many other options exist.  A writer’s goal is not to damage other writers, but rather it is to build his or her base of followers.

Now, what would be interesting is to see partnerships between authors and corporate entities.  What if BK offered a penny Whopper along with a discounted copy of a good book to read while you consume your cholesterol-ridden, calorie-charged, nutrient-deficient meal?

Or how about some in-store events for authors that correlate with other promotions?  Why not a furniture sale while an author of a book on home design or furniture gives a talk or is on call to answer house decoration questions?

Look, there are no laws or rules prohibiting you, the author, from opening doors and finding new ways to promote your book.  If approaching a corporation seems daunting, start with your local indie store – be it furniture, pharmacy, clothing – whatever.  Find something that ties into your book’s subject matter and present yourself as a relevant expert who can help facilitate the store’s foot traffic.  It’s worth a try.

It certainly beats selling your book for a penny while you bully other authors.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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