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Friday, July 15, 2016

A2R Marketing: Bugs and Books

Sometimes this marketing thing is a blast.

I love trying different ideas to reach readers. I’m a little guy trying to market in the big bad world against deep pockets and robust promotional machines. The relentless marketing effort can be a slog, so changing it up once in a while is what I need to keep me and my peeps fresh.

Over one year ago, I launched a bug dedicated to Jessica Wyeth, horses, and my books. 

A bug? Yes. A geocaching travel bug.

Jessica Wyeth's Travel Bug
Geocaching consists of boxes hidden in public places. The boxes may be as big as an ammunition box or as small as a lipstick tube. Inside, a journal to log a find may be joined with trinkets of all sizes and values – from key chain fobs to rare coins. Caches are listed on and estimates state over one million boxes are in the United States alone. Once a muggle finds one box, the quest for more treasure is on.

A travel bug is designed to travel from cache to cache and it’s fun to see where a bug has been and to decide what new place to bring it. Some wander happily around the globe and others have a mission. The bug I created is dedicated to finding unique equestrian locations.

This map shows Jessica’s bug’s travels. Bug started in a cache near Jessica’s childhood home of Hamilton, Massachusetts. From there, Bug has traveled to New Hampshire, Quebec, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. While I’ve been busy tapping away on my stories, Bug has traveled over thirteen hundred miles. Oh, and the horse thing? Sometimes, Bug ends up near bridle paths and equestrian centers. The kayak place in Quebec has me stumped.

This is where I confess to having a smattering of nerd in my DNA. I think this is really freaking cool.

So, you ask, how does this equate to marketing?

Bug and Book prior to launch
I can see the data of when and where Bug has been spotted or moved. Via Amazon’s author services, I can see when and where my books are sold. I get a kick out of lining up the data and seeing why sales happened. I’m not talking about a hundred books being sold, in fact, I’m pretty excited to see a clustered few, but when I see action in a part of the country I don’t have a large presence in and trace it back to Bug, I geek out. For a little bit of effort a year or so ago, I created an evergreen promotion. One fan who discovered my books even wrote a review and posted it on Goodreads. She loved the serendipity of discovering my books via geocaching and was intrigued enough to read “The Charity.” Oh, she loved the book, too. So, Goodreads Reader, if you’re out there and sampling this blog, I love you, too.

I’m not suggesting you go out today and buy a travel bug tag and sprinkle the universe with tchotchke. In fact, I’d recommend against it. I struck on something that fit for me. I love hiking, have long been a geocaching fan, and was going to launch a travel bug anyway just because I think they’re fun.  

Bug's page allows folks to post pictures and they definitely have fun with this. This boy was out hiking and caching in Ohio with his dad when he came across Bug and another pal. Next thing Bug knows, she’s in New York! 

Bug in a dinosaurs mouth? Gotta love it.

Seriously, how many layers of wow can you find?
I have never met this geocaching photographer,
 but somehow I know we'd get along great.

Maybe one more. I'm offering a reward. Read on!