How to get celebs to market your book for you (without asking them!)

I thought I was done for the day, but I just noticed this bullshit article on Twitter. The headline said, “Johnny Depp in Jail? For what?!” with a picture of Johnny.

The link led to this page (even though the display link was “huffingtonpost.com” it took me somewhere else); a totally fabricated piece of fake news, crediting a bunch of famous celebs and inferring that their wealth and success was due to an all natural brain supplement called Intellux. By the way, don’t take this article as promotion of Intellux – it doesn’t even list ingredients, totally unsafe.

That entire site, by the way, is fake. It projects a trustworthy appearance and uses authority anchors like “Discovery” and “National Geographic” and “Time” (even Tiger Woods) to seem real; but the whole fake site was built for this one article.

fake news site


That fake article is peppered with links to the sales page, here.

That sales page is doing a whole bunch of interesting things to drive sales, such as the illusion of scarcity (“almost sold out”); “As seen in” with the logos of reputable news organizations (which must totally all be fake); and a few real facts on on memory loss and brain function.


My guess is, the first bullshit article about Johnny Depp is one smart affiliate marketer driving clicks and traffic to the sale page and earning money that way. It was a promoted post on Twitter. But this is interesting, rather than just promoting an ad for Intellux, which wouldn’t work very well (because people ignore ads on social media) he promoted a bit of juicy albeit fraudulent gossip… which got more shares and retweets.

He makes money because, what does he care if it’s BS, he still gets paid. It’s obviously a very dodgy way to run a business, and I’d never recommend you do anything like it to market your book. That said, it’s really useful for you to look at both sites and take a look at how they are selling. First they do something crazy and interesting, gossip, “No way, Johnny Depp in jail?!” to get the click, then they sell you with a story of this crazy powerful new supplement that all the people you look up to are taking, then they send you to a sales page.

We can do something really similar for book marketing. For example, for the book I’m writing now, I could post something on Twitter saying, “REVEALED: Johnny Dep is secretly a mermaid!” with an awesome photoshopped picture of Johnny as said mermaid. Then I’d have a big long fake article full of evidence ‘proving’ he’s really a mermaid. The difference would be, nobody would mistake mine for real news. It would be an obvious spoof. And probably a shitty way to sell books, unless it was really funny and clever… but it WOULD probably bring in more traffic than my regular landing page ever will (and it’s actually something I’m going to do anyway, for fun, but not with Depp…. with another celeb instead).

And there are dozens of other ways to get famous people to market books for you without asking permission, in ways that don’t come of spammy. You can write articles about them. You can pull quotes from them that support your content, and add their face. You’re doing what’s kind “brand transference.”

I REALLY want Amanda Hocking to review my tragic mermaid romance novel, but that’s unlikely unless I find a way to get her to know and trust me enough to read the book and see if she likes it. But that doesn’t mean I’m unable to tap into her fans and audience. I can post reviews of her books and how much they meant to me. I can pull excerpts from her books and discuss them. I can even invent a fake interview between us (although… Amanda seems like a pretty nice person, she might actually agree to a quick skype or email interview, if I ask her nicely, and if I have a big network of blog traffic full of YA readers… which I’m building ).

The danger is to do things that seem fake or spammy just to sell books: the more you try to make it look “real” the more people will be angry/disappointed when they find out it isn’t… so personally, though I may use celebs names or faces to attract and convert their fans, I would make sure I put a clear disclaimer on my content that said it was a spoof article or not real. I’d still get the click, and the traffic, but it wouldn’t work as well…

Unless it’s so crazy/funny people know it can’t be real, but it’s still cool enough to share. Dangerous territory, certainly, advanced book marketing only, use with caution. I’ll be posting more about this soon with examples.

As a side note… it’s fascinating that this kind of bullshit product sales funnel for an IQ boosting supplement probably works really well with average to low IQ people (people obsessed with gossip and celebrities, who want a quick and easy fix).

In fact I’m really tempted to write a few books just so I can employ this kind of spammy, high volume marketing funnel. It would be easier to do for non-fiction.

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