QR Codes: The Newest Tool for Book Marketing

Expert: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

(Excerpted from the Second Edition of The Frugal Book Promoter)

If mobile marketing is new, then QR codes are newer. Or not, depending on how you think about them. They are related to the bar codes we’ve been seeing for decades, so, when you think of them that way, they’re not very new. But when you think of them in terms of reaching people on the go–individually!–they’re very new indeed.

“QR codes” is short for quick response codes and that sort of tells the story.

Add the ability to use quick response codes (QRs) to your battery of techie tools. Some people think they look flowery…or like puzzles or computer chips…even Rorschach tests. They are a kind of barcode, but they can take people with smartphones to a Web page or video or even make a call for them—it depends on what the author chooses to put in the code. Use QRs at book fairs, tradeshows, and book signings to let folks with smart phones scan whatever promotional gift or information you want them to have. You can put them anywhere: Your business cards, your ads, in your book, or on your printed tote bag.

The leading maker of codes is Scanbury. Related to them is a program called Scanlife. But here’s the important part. You can get free codes made at qrcode.kaywa.com/ and they make it so easy, you won’t believe it’s a new technology at all.

The example you see here takes you to the Writers’ Resources pages on my Web site. This article is an excerpt from the just-released second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter so you can put a code in your book as I did. My new cover designer (Chaz DeSimone)  put a code on the cover of the book (the back cover, lower right corner).

If you write fiction or poetry, don’t assume this is a tool meant only for nonfiction writers. Absolutely not! Your code could take readers to a sample chapter of your book or the prologue. It could take your readers to your blog where you write little anecdotes or scenes about your characters.

Fiction or nonfiction it could take your prospective readers to your favorite review. Each book is different. The possibilities are limitless.

~Carolyn Howard-Johnson just updated her multi awar-winning The Frugal Book Promoter to include the many magical book marketing techniques on the Web.


The author is Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t, winner of USA Book News’ Best Professional Book, and Book Publicists of Southern California’s Irwin Award. Its sister book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, is also a multi-award winner. Her new booklet of word trippers is Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy.
Her complimentary newsletter Sharing with Writers is always full of promotion tips, craft, and publishing news. Send an e-mail with “subscribe” in the subject line to HoJoNews@aol.com.

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  1. practicalcafe@gmail.com'TPC Online

    A common mistake is that DIY marketers assume they can just paste a QR code where ever they want to and lead potential customers (readers) to their website, online POS or some other reference point, completely ignoring the fact that QR codes are a mobile application.

    Your QR code should lead consumers to a MOBILE friendly website that can be viewed on a cell phone.

    Leading to a regular website typically leaves consumers frustrated because they cannot view or interact with the website and can actually have a reverse effect on sales.

    We suggest to our author clients that if they do not have a mobile friendly website, that they point the QR code to their Amazon book page, or to their iTunes page, both of which are mobile friendly.

  2. hojonews@aol.com'Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Thanks for this tip, TPC. Of course, anyone who isn’t sure if their site is mobile friendly can simply do a test and ask a few friends to test it, too. I’m all about making any process as simple as possible. Simplicity is part of my \Frugal\ brand. (-:

    Hoping peeps who drop by check out how I use a QR code both in the new second edtion of The Frugal Book Promoter on the interior and exterior of the book. (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkProm).

    Best,
    Carolyn

  3. hojonews@aol.com'Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Aggie, thank for dropping by. Not sure if there is a code automatcally embedded in ineractive softwares. If there isn’t now, it shouldn’t be long. Be sure to check out the way I used a code on the back of my new Frugal Book Promoter. I often use it in my newsletters, too. (-: It’s really helpful to people with iPhones, etc.

    Best,
    Carolyn

  4. hojonews@aol.com'Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Alice, thank you for this. I think this may be a first. Or among the first. Using QR codes effectively for fiction. Right on! Thanks for coming by!

    Best,
    Carolyn

  5. hojonews@aol.com'Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Yay Alice! Thank you for this information. I think this may be a first. Or among the first. Using QR codes effectively for fiction. Right on! Thanks for coming by!

    Best,
    Carolyn

  6. hojonews@aol.com'Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    To make this as simple as possible, Aggie. ANYTHING you can put on a Web page, an autoresponder or on a recording for a phone line (and maybe a lot more) will work for this. If you go to the new edition of the The Frugal Book Promoter,(I know you have a copy!– http://www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo ), it gives you lots more information on this. Once you start to explore the sites where you sign up for a free code, you’ll see what I mean. I know you are tech savvy. This is going to be a cinch for you.

    BTW, suggesting here you make that discount more than 10% on your new e-book. I know you’ll get many more results from the campaign if you do. Or do a double–bubble. 10% Off and a FREE white paper. I know you have tons of those!

    And, I’d use them to lead to:
    Discounts
    Resources
    The buy pages of your other books (you are listing your other books in the backmatter, aren’t you?)

    Having said that, I think the greatest use for them is to expose a lot of material to people who don’t have time for a lot of material–people on the run with their smartphones in their pockets. (-:

    Best,
    Carolyn

  7. info@spektacle.com'John Noi

    A QR Code could also be placed at the end of a book (or at the beginning) which links readers together via a forum to discuss elements of the book, or to even promote previously written books by the author with a friendly mobile page to order them.

  8. hojonews@aol.com'Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    My favorite use of them, John, is to catch people who are on the run. Thus book fairs, trade show signings, etc. But they ARE also a wonderful way to expand what we can include in paperback books. And, I guess e-books, too, except that there really are no limits on size for e-books, so why not include whatever is needed in the e-book. Oh! I can think of one reason! And that is to lead the reader to another useful (and hopefully essential!) product. (-: Thanks for dropping by.

    Best,
    Carolyn