Author Greg Godek claims to have invented “reverse shoplifting.” He takes a copy of his book, 1001 Ways to Be Romantic into a bookstore that doesn’t carry the book. Then, he quietly slips the book onto the shelf.
Godek’s theory is that when someone tries to buy the book (and it doesn’t show up in the store’s inventory) they will note that the book sold and will order replacement copies. While he can’t document how many books he has sold with this sneaky strategy, Godek has sold more than 1.7 million books.
There are two lessons you can take from this. First, freely give away samples. When Godek “donates” books to bookstores, the cost to him is minimal. But, it exposes the book to readers (and retailers) who might not have found it otherwise.
Second, don’t be afraid to try something a little “odd” if the risk is low and it might work. Don’t do something unethical, illegal or nasty. However, being creative can help you find ways to promote yourself which are inexpensive and fun. Just because no one has done it before doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. It just means you’re more clever than those other folks!
Oh, and a third lesson: I’m telling you about Greg Godek (and his book) because he not only created “reverse shoplifting,” but he told people about it. If you come up with an unusual way to promote yourself, tell others about it. You may get additional attention as your strategy is shared.