The Secret to Getting Paid to Sell Books

Many writers I know either write non-fiction already or are toying with the idea. It’s a lot of research and work, but because it tailors to a specific audience, books can also do quite well. But what if there was a way to help nudge along that success factor…would you be interested? Read on as Joshua Lisec provides a possible path to guaranteed sales that writers may not have considered before.

The Wonderful World of Corporate Sponsorship

Think of the college stadium or professional sports arena that’s closest to you. Got it? Great. Chances are, the word arena, field or stadium is preceded by a company name. Like Bridgestone Arena, lair of the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators. Or PNC Field, hideout of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. And MetLife Stadium, home of the National Football League’s New York Giants.

Bridgestone, PNC, MetLife…welcome to the wonderful world of corporate sponsorship. According to Linda Hollander, the world’s leading expert on the matter, companies like American Airlines, Citibank, FedEx, IBM, Microsoft, Staples and WalMart spend sixty-five billion dollars per year to fund organizations and individuals who align with their brand—or who reach the people they (the company) want to reach. For the right opportunity (or author), a corporate sponsor will shell out anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000!

It’s a win-win. The company gets unmatched publicity, putting their brand top of mind for an audience they might not have otherwise been able to reach. And the individual gets to tap into industry connections and income they never could have found on their own.

How Authors Can Benefit from Corporate Sponsorship

If sports stadiums can take a slice out of the multi-billion-dollar annual corporate sponsorship pie, why can’t an author like you?

A writer named Karen asked herself the same thing. A physician with decades of experience serving patients, Karen had packaged everything she wished women knew about their bodies into a single masterpiece. But how exactly was she going to get the word out so people would buy her book? As a medical professional, she wasn’t a self-promoting online influencer with a massive following. She had a humble roster of patients, but even if they all bought her book, she wouldn’t feel she’d impacted her target audience. Enter corporate sponsorship.

Whenever Karen would highlight a vitamin or supplement that helped women prevent adrenal fatigue, improve skin care, or relieve anxiety, she dropped the name of her preferred supplement brand. Once she had a first draft and a book cover mock-up, she reached out to the brand’s marketing director: scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

The supplement company had exactly what Karen needed to get her book in front of the masses—a global distribution network of health and wellness product wholesalers and retail stores, millions of existing customers (the majority of which are female), and an annual marketing budget a thousand times higher than Karen’s salary.

Karen offered the company exactly what they wanted—the credibility of a physician, a trusted industry voice, and the expertise that gives women peace of mind. So when Karen tells readers her preferred Vitamin C brand, her words carry a thousand times more credibility than any study the brand highlights in their customer newsletter. Win, win.

The marketing director agreed to sponsor Karen, and she sold a whole lot of books as a result. The supplement company spent thousands advertising Karen’s webinar at health clubs, fitness centers, and independent grocers across the country. Right alongside the promo flyer for Karen’s live class on the best supplements for women was Karen’s book. And that’s on top of the sponsorship fee they paid Karen to put together the webinar!

The company also ordered tens of thousands of copies at wholesale price and used their retail relationships to put them in many of the stores and outlets that already sold health and wellness books. So not only did Karen sell thousands of copies more than she ever could have by herself, she actually got paid to promote her book!

Who Would Sponsor You and Your Non-Fiction Book?

You can take advantage of the corporate sponsorship opportunity, too. Like Karen, start with your vision for the book. What brands, corporations, or nonprofits align with your message? Who already advertises to the same people your book is intended for? For Karen, that was health-conscious women who wanted to invest in their and their family’s well being.

Once you’ve identified a few potential sponsors, reach out to their marketing team with an offer they can’t resist. Your pitch shouldn’t be about you—make it all about them. How can you help them build their brand credibility, reach a new market, or sell additional products to existing customers? Anything that builds a buzz around their company and generates sweet, sweet return on that $10,000 to $100,000 investment they put into you and your book. Depending on your industry, your sponsor may pay you to speak at conferences, to join panels, or like Karen to host a webinar on the uses and benefits of their products (which tie in with your book). Even if you’re a first-time author with a small platform, you can make big money from your book thanks to the power of sponsorship!

I’ll let expert Linda Hollander close us out with her recommendations in Corporate Sponsorship In 3 Easy Steps for setting your sponsored book up for success:

“[Y]ou can include sponsors in your book tour and place the sponsor’s material in the physical books that are shipped to readers… [Y]ou can give the sponsor exposure in your promotional campaigns. Don’t forget online speaking, training, and campaigns. These are very viable promotional opportunities for your corporate sponsors.”

Who could you see sponsoring your book? What organizations sell products, offer services or advocate for a cause that aligns with your book—and your personal brand? And what questions do you have about connecting with them? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see how I can help!

Joshua Lisec is founder of The Entrepreneur’s Wordsmith LLC, Ohio’s first Certified Professional Ghostwriter, a #1 International Bestselling Ghostwriter, a Forbes Contributor ghostwriter, a TEDx speaker, and a two-time published novelist.

Since 2011, Joshua has ghostwritten forty books. He has been featured in TED, TEDx, Foundr Magazine, American Express, BBC Radio London, Yahoo!, Fatherly, The Huffington Post, and numerous other outlets. During a recent podcast, Dilbert comic creator and New York Times bestselling author of Win Bigly, Scott Adams, recommended Joshua Lisec to aspiring authors. Talk to Joshua about your book idea at


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Guest Post, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing and Self Publishing, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] in person can be fun and profitable. Joshua Lisec shares the secret to getting paid to sell books, Patricia Sands gives a shout out to book clubs, and Mary Locke discusses audiobook promotion for […]

Tracy Perkins
1 year ago

The timing of this is perfect. Thanks for the tips, Joshua.

1 year ago

This is a great step-by-step article. I have been through this process for months, but did not have any level of success for reasons I’ve since learned, one of which is mentioned in the article.
For two full years I actively pursued corporate sponsorships for my educational dvd series. I approached and took meetings with companies whose very products were used in the videos! Slam-dunk, right? We had meetings & slick presentation materials with Fortune 500 companies including the largest toy company in the world.
Nothing. Despite endless follow-ups.
Sorry to be a downer, but getting sponsorships is much harder than one would think, even with a good fit and a pre-made platform I’d spent the previous three years building. I know of a folk singer with a very good niche who got corporate sponsorship for a tour. Their product fit her message perfectly. It barely covered her costs and after a year, they withdrew. And she was packing them into her concert halls!
Even short money has been impossible to come by. I would say it’s the product but there was no heavy lifting on their part and we have demonstrable sales figures. What we found, esp with the largest maker of art products in the world, is the layers of responsibility get defused in corporations and no one wants to be the first to stick their neck out and cost the company money. Saw this again and again.
I envy those like Karen that have had success but I think it points out two mistakes I made that the article correctly mentions: We were trying to get the companies to PARTNER with us as a separate entity. The companies are more comfortable if they can take over. Bluntly, the company sited above treated Karen’s product as just that: another marketing tool that was part of their overall plan. We acted like “artistes” when all they wanted was someone to create a corporate premium they could sell like pens and key chains. Which leads me to my second mistake and mentioned above. We didn’t talk enough about what we and the product can do for THEM. I begged my colleague to stop talking about our no-one-gives-a-crap history and cut to why this would increase the company’s bottom line. Of course they weren’t interested. Mentions of the “goodwill” this would generate fell on deaf ears. They were only interested in something that would generate gobs of money with very little risk and MAKE THEM LOOK GOOD TO THEIR BOSSES.
If I had to do it again, I’d start very small with a much smaller, more hungrier company.

Joshua Lisec
1 year ago

Thanks for sharing your story, Mark. An educational DVD series and concert tour are different animals than books, but I think you explain a few things well that are relevant to aspiring authors:

(1) Connecting with the right decision-makers at a company. If you’re not talking to the right person who cuts the checks, you won’t get anywhere.

(2) Providing value. A clear “here is how we will make you money” pitch delivered to the right person is essential. Keyword: right person.

(3) Looking at smaller opportunities. We’re seeing authors get amazing results (AKA sweet deals) with younger companies and even private brands that see their authors as influencers whose job is to reach as many people as possible.

I wish sponsorship had turned out differently for you, Mark, and we all appreciate you sharing what happened in your pursuit so everyone interested in sponsorship can take away valuable lessons.

1 year ago

Great tips here, Joshua! Most writers aren’t at ease with marketing, so nudges like these can get them feeling a little more comfortable with the idea. Thanks for being here!

Joshua Lisec
1 year ago

Sure thing, Becca! Even better when a multi-billion-dollar corporation pays you to market your book. 🙂