Biking and Book Marketing (they have more in common than you think!)

It’s hard to believe that at 38 (almost 39) Lance Armstrong is still on a bike and competing in one of the toughest sports: The Tour de France. This will be his final ride, unlike Cher there won’t be a comeback for him after this. Age will prevent that given the nature and the demands of this race. So why am I writing about biking in a book marketing piece? Well, they really do have more in common than you might think so bear with me for a minute, hop on your own bike and let’s go!

The Tour de France is a 21 day trek across 2,200 miles in France through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. The trek takes riders up through the treacherous Alps and across elevations as high as 6,000 feet. Many new to the Tour are surprised to find out that it’s more than just “peddling a bike,” it’s about strategy, focus, preparation, and a team of exceptional people with one goal in mind: winning the “maillot jaune” (the yellow jersey) and cycling with it through Paris and down the Champs- Élysées.

Here are a few creative spins taken from the Tour that might just help you stay on track with your book marketing campaign:

1) Gather Your Team: In cycling, the team is as important as the team leader. Teams are comprised of “domestiques” (French for servants). The domestiques are there to support the leader with one focused goal in mind: winning. When you gather your team, make sure they are the best and make sure everyone understands their goal. Also important: appreciate your team because every cyclist knows that no one gets to Paris alone.

2) Plan Your Strategy: Once the Tour route is announced four months prior to the start of the Tour, Lance will cycle this route several times. He’ll know every turn, every undulation, and every pothole in the road. Make your plan and know where you’re going. Understand the peaks and valleys, map your route and cycle it until you know it by heart. Map out your strategy and then stick to the route.

3) Expect the Unexpected: Every rider knows that even if you can cycle a route in your sleep there are still a million things that can happen that no one could anticipate. You too should expect the unexpected, the good and the bad, and make the adjustments needed to keep your marketing plan on track. New and unexpected things, both good and bad always pop up. Make sure that you build in the right amount of flexibility within your plan to support it.

4) Nutrition: Every rider knows that the food they eat can make or break their success. The same is true for book marketing, feed your campaign with things that can help further your success and won’t undermine your efforts. Feed it with the right things: blog posts, social media book reviews, endorsements, and media – whatever is appropriate to your book and audience and watch your success grow! So what are the wrong things? Basically anything that seems too fast or too easy to read: fast food. Just like that Big Mac will never sustain you through a race, the fast and easy won’t sustain your campaign either.

5) Listen to the Experts: At one time Jan Ulrich was considered to be Lance’s #1 contender but Jan doesn’t do well in the mountains because he uses gears too high for the climb. Before Jan retired, Lance advised him on a number of occasions to lower his gears but Jan refused to listen. Consequently Jan never won a mountain stage in his entire career. If you’re getting advice from an expert, why would you not listen to that? Don’t discard what an expert says and if you question it, get a second opinion. Listen to those who have raced the book Tour route before, they’ve been to Paris and they know how to get you there as well.

6) Prepare for the Alps: Every Tour has its own set of mountain stages, so does your book marketing campaign. Prepare for these stages, know they’ll be on the horizon and don’t give up when the climb becomes steep because right after that peak is a descent that will be decidedly easier. The mountains that you pass over can be the slow times in a campaign, the hard won book signing. We all have mountains and it’s been proven that often the more mountains you attempt to climb, the more successful your campaign could be. Don’t fear the Alps, they too lead to Paris.

7) Play Fair: Lance is very respected among the other cyclists in the Tour because he plays fair. Remember that we’re all in this “Tour” together and we’ll all reach our own success in due time. Help others and you help yourself. Play fair and you’ll win the respect of your peers and the people who can help you win this race. In fact do you know others who write about what you do? If you don’t you should. Getting to know your competitors and not treating them like competitors but as fellow riders is important. Why? Because most people will buy in a particular category meaning that if you have written a book on dating, most readers who want dating advice will buy multiple titles, not just one. So competition in publishing? Not so much. Make friends with your fellow authors, you’ll be glad you did.

8) Honor your Fans: If you’ve watched the Tour, you know that the fans for this event come out in droves. Lance has always respected his fans and honored their commitment to the sport. Honor your readers, listen to their feedback (even if you don’t always like it) and take their opinions seriously. When I was working on Red Hot Internet Publicity I took the time to listen to every single piece of advice my readers gave me. The result? A book that is designed with the specific reader in mind and sales that have exceeded my expectations. Honor your fans, celebrate your fans. They’re the ones who will be there for you when you take your victory lap around the Champs-Élysées.

9) Divide Your Wins into Stages: While the ultimate victory of the tour is Paris, the Tour itself is divided into 21 stages, each with a win of their own. Divide your campaign into “stage wins” and celebrate each success. In order for you to keep your momentum it will be important for you to have mini-goals along the way. Celebrate the journey as much as you celebrate your big win!

10) Know when to sprint, and when not to: In cycling, riders know when to burn up the road and when to pace their efforts. Book marketing is mostly a marathon comprised of small sprints along the way. Increase your efforts when needed but know when to pull back from the intense racing so you can keep up with the pace.

And finally, have a good product. Lance’s team could never reach the success it has without an exceptional leader. If your book is less than it should be, or not up to par, there’s no marketing plan in the world that will make it successful. If you need to take more time to make it perfect, take that time. You’ll be glad you did. Then when you’re ready, you can launch your own literary “Lance Armstrong.” An exceptional book and an exceptional team, together you’ll get your own “maillot jaune” as you sail onto the roads of Paris. Wishing you publishing success!

AME supports the Livestrong Foundation which was founded by Lance Armstrong to support cancer survivors and those living with cancer. Get your own yellow Livestrong bracelet today! To learn more about this foundation click here:

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the “road map to publishing success.” AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with message boards, blogs, ezines, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book’s topic, positioning the author in his or her market. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to:

Copyright ã 2006 Penny C. Sansevieri