Specialists in Internet Web Sites Since 1995
Should You Give Away Information Online?
© 1999 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.
you give away information in your non-fiction book?
Yes, you might gain an advantage by giving away your hard-won facts; think
about the best direct mail packages. Do you receive offers from Boardroom
Reports or from the medical newsletter created by Dr. Julian Whitaker? Have you
noticed how much information they give you in their marketing mailings? They
are demonstrating their expertise and earning your respect by giving you
important information outright. They exemplify an excellent way to hand out
part of the information cache while enticing the reader to sign up to receive
more. This direct mail method also works online in several different ways.
Individual Chapters Online
Many people who are selling books are displaying full sections of the books
online. For example, SPAWN member Virginia Cornell has established the Manifest
Publications site at
http://www.manifestpub.com where visitors can read her humor columns
and chapters from one of her books.
E-mailing Chapters on Request
Some small book publishers are allowing site visitors to choose one chapter
to receive by e-mail. Thus the publisher has their e-mail address for later
contact with new offers. It is http://www.cashing-out.com.
Including Links to New Chapters in a Newsletter
Some publishers are using a Web site form to sign visitors up for a frequent
e-mail newsletter. The newsletter contains a link to a new book section which
has been recently posted to the site. This method is used by Guerilla Marketing
Online at http://www.gmarketing.com.
Including a Full Chapter in a Newsletter
Some publishers send a newsletter with a section of the book highlighted. Of
course, the newsletter also contains ordering information and a link to the Web
Complete Free Book at the Web Site
This is the most startling method of all. Some publishers are actually
placing one or more entire books online. Rough Guides publishes travel
guidebooks in England. Three years ago, they decided to place the contents of
their most popular travel guides online at
That move sounds foolhardy, but sales of Rough Guides books have risen 20%
per year since the books have been online. You will find the success of this
process even more surprising when you hear that Rough Guides does not sell
directly to the public. They sell only through established bookstores, so Web
site visitors must take the extra step of finding a bookstore carrying the
Rough Guides made the online books searchable, and they added maps and
photographs, discussion groups, timely weather tips, and booking. Rough Guides
filled their Web site with information to position the site as the ultimate
travel source. The site generates traffic, and Rough Guides sells more books.
Note that the underlying concepts in these examples remain the same:
- Give away information to establish trust and respect.
- Keep in contact with site visitors to remind them of the site and
Yes, giving away information online is an excellent way to attract buyers.
~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect
who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at
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