How to Sell Books without Having to Write Book Reviews
The Bookwitty Affiliate Program allows partners to generate income by selling and recommending books. Contrary to popular belief, a blogger does not have to exclusively write about books to be able to market them. Any blogger can sell books.
A good blogger’s strength lies in pairing the right content with the right titles and encouraging their readers to buy books in order to enrich their knowledge on a certain topic.
So if you like this idea, but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Not everyone is a natural marketer, and that’s okay: marketing can be taught. In this article, we give you a guide on how to link any of the topics you write about to a book or a reading list. By the end of this post, you will learn the basics of how to seamlessly link your content to books, and to bridge the gap between your blogger hat and your marketer hat.
We worked on a handy workbook that breaks down every step of this process. Get your free workbook here.
We’ve broken this article down into different steps that will allow you to determine which books to pair with your content. These include:
- Assessing the theme & objective of your article
- Breaking down the different adjacent themes that are directly related to your article’s central point
- Adding neighboring themes that broaden your readers’ understanding of your central point
- Linking each of the chosen themes to a number of books
- Weaving your selection of books as part of your content’s infrastructure
- Archiving the unused themes and books for later use
If your goal is to recommend and sell books through your content, you can either choose titles that are directly connected to the topic you are blogging about (adjacent themes), or ones that are indirectly linked (neighboring)
1. Assess the theme & objective of your article
Before you start linking your content to books, it is important to take a second, and think about your article’s general direction. It is only by having a firm grasp on your article’s theme and purpose that you will be able to determine which books will complement your post. To do so, answer the following questions:
- What are you trying to say through it?
- What is the angle you are adopting?
- What is the message you are trying to convey through your post?
Let’s say we are a medical blog working on an in-depth feature on the repercussions of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the United States. Not the most obvious example to take on, but our objective here is to demonstrate that you can sell books around any topic as long as you have a clear article infrastructure. So in order to do that, we started by answering the below questions:
What are we trying to say through this post?
This feature would be exploring the HIV crisis through a medical, historical and sociological lens.
What is the angle we are adopting?
Our hypothetical blog is not purely medical. Medicine and science are taken with a 360-degree outlook, as we explore the sociological, political, economic and even cultural outcomes of various maladies and treatments.
What is the message we are trying to convey through our post?
Through a study of this illness, we look at how discrimination can cause a sense of mass hysteria, which can impede and delay the proper steps in order to administer medication to patients.
2. Break down the different adjacent themes that are directly related to your article’s central point
Now that you completely understand your blog post’s topic, it’s time to break it down into adjacent themes. Think about what are the different factors that make up your central point, and that will also prove what you are trying to say. Keep in mind, whatever theme you extract must be directly linked to your article. Ask yourself:
- What themes/angles do my readers need to understand in order to fully grasp my post’s central point?
Let’s go back to our hypothetical article on the repercussions of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the United States and answer the above questions:
What themes/angles do my readers need to understand in order to fully grasp my post’s central point?
- HIV / AIDs from a medical standpoint, given that we are a medical blog
- Historical notes about how the disease spread in order to properly understand the context in which it was taking place.
- The government’s reaction to the crisis, and the implication it had in delaying the search for a cure.
3. Add neighboring themes that broaden your readers’ understanding of your central point
Now that you have your central themes locked, it’s time to widen your reach by adding themes that are in the same neighborhood as your central topic. This will allow you to paint a complete picture for your audience, which will help them expand their understanding of the subject at hand. These neighboring themes can be split into 2 different categories:
Bordering Themes: which are directly related to your topic, but that you have not addressed in your post.
Broad Themes: which are the overarching themes that your topic falls under.
It’s important to note that these secondary and tertiary themes are not vital for your readers to grasp your blog post. However, they are important for readers who want to learn more about your topic of choice. In order to determine these neighboring themes, answer the following questions:
- What are other themes linked to this topic that I have not directly addressed in question 1? (Bordering themes)
- Has my topic of choice been taken on from different angles? If yes, what are they? (Bordering themes)
- Finally take a step back, and ask yourself: What are the broader themes that can be placed in the same “neighborhood” as my topic? (Broad themes)
Don’t forget, any themes you end up featuring in your article need to be in line with your brand positioning.
This is how we answered these questions in relation to our article on the repercussions of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the United States:
What are other themes linked to this topic that I have not directly taken on in question 1? (Bordering themes)
- The AIDS epidemic on an international scale: how different countries and governments have reacted to this disease.
Has my topic of choice been taken on from different angles? If yes, what are they? (Bordering themes)
- First-hand accounts, opinion leaders who have written artistic and biographical accounts of their own experiences during the AIDS epidemic (doctors, patients, activists).
- Works of fiction with central characters who are HIV positive (novels, plays and comic books).
What are the broader themes that can be placed in the same “neighborhood” as my topic? (Broad themes)
- Other infectious diseases told through a historical, medical and political lens.
- Other autoimmune diseases told through a historical, medical and political lens.
- Stories and accounts of other civil rights movements in the United States.
4. Link each of the chosen themes to a number of books
So you’ve got your adjacent and neighboring themes set, it’s time to pair these themes with books. How should you take this on? Simple, choose books that will complement your topic, and help your readers further understand the themes you want to reference. When it comes to selecting which books to feature, don’t always go for the obvious. Try and research the topic. If you don’t know where to start, simply googling a topic idea followed by the word ‘book’ (i.e “Books about [insert topic you are writing about here]”) will definitely open things up for you.
Let’s take on of the themes we previously mentioned in section 3: “Works of fiction with central characters who are HIV positive.” First things first, we looked for novels that filled these criteria, like Push and The Hours. Both books have central characters that are dealing with being HIV+ in different contexts. However, we did not limit ourselves to only novels, we looked at comic books and plays like: Angels in America, the Green Arrow series with its character Speedy and The Incredible Hulk series, with its character Jim Wilson. This selection is just scratching the surface. Your selection should complement your blog’s positioning and be easily pairable with your tone of voice. In our case, for example, we’ve already mentioned that our hypothetical blog is in tune with the pop culture beat and does not limit itself to pure medical jargon. So these books make sense as further reading.
Now that we have done this exercise with one theme, make sure to apply this same process to the other adjacent, bordering and broad themes you’ve chosen.
5. Weave your selection of books as part of your content’s infrastructure
What’s left to do is to incorporate your selection of books attractively into your post. As mentioned in point number 4, start by selecting the themes that complement the general direction of your blog and post. Once you’ve done so, it’s time to start writing your article. Make sure to include your selection of themes as part of your article’s content. You can do so either by mentioning why this theme is interesting in a sentence, or by diving deeper with a full-blown paragraph. Think of this step as your hook. The better you are able to pitch your themes throughout your article, the more your audience will be willing to buy your selection of books to learn more about them. Now it’s time to recommend your books. There are two ways of doing so:
- By mentioning your book recommendations directly after your pitch. This works well if you’re using affiliate links as the links can be embedded into your text.
- By laying out the covers of the books you’ve selected at the end of the article in an attractive manner. You can introduce this section with a simple sentence, similar to: “Books that can help you learn more about this topic…”
Don’t forget to include a quick summary of the book you are mentioning and their author. This will help peak your readers’ interests. The better you highlight why these books are great reads and which part of your article’s theme they will help your readers dive into, the better your chances of scoring a sale. What you’re doing here is using your original post as a springboard to organically recommend books.
For a better idea on how to frame your call to action check out this article on How to Write the Perfect Call to Action.
6. Archive the unused themes and books for later use
Once your blog post is published don’t be afraid to get inspired by your selection of books to write new articles. Think of the work you’ve done here as a starting point. There are several ways you can repurpose the themes you’ve researched and the books you’ve selected into valuable content. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
- You can turn any book selection you’ve made surrounding a specific theme into a reading list.
- You can write an in-depth article about any of the neighboring themes you’ve added to your list.
- Get critical: you can write a comparative article of any of the themes you’ve previously researched that mesh well together.
- You can write a follow up to your original article, which includes the themes not addressed in article 1.
Keeping with the medical blog example, from our book selection, we were able to come up with the following articles just to name a few:
- A reading list detailing the top 5 biographies of doctors who treated patients who are HIV positive during the AIDS crisis
- An article that compares different countries’ reactions to the HIV crisis
- A post that analyzes HIV positive characters in fictional novels and comic books
- A feature on the three most dangerous Infectious diseases
So where should you begin?
You’ve been blogging for some time now, and you’re sitting on a content goldmine. You can easily revisit your content archives, and link your previous posts to a number of books. Make sure to start off by adding relevant book to the posts that have been garnered high traffic. Older articles are a good testing ground, as you can add books to a topic you have already mastered.
Once you get the hang of things, you can regularly link books to your newer content pieces. To make things easier for yourself, when you start working on your content calendar for the upcoming month, make sure to include a book selection step to your process.
Other articles that are part of the How Bloggers Can Easily Sell Books Through their Content series include:
- How Food Bloggers Can Market Books through their Content
- How Travel Bloggers Can Market Books through their Content
If you’re interested in selling books through your content, check out the advantages of the Bookwitty Affiliate Program here.