To define geocaching for those not in the know: Geocaching is the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. Most of these hidden objects are containers into which people place a log (to record who found it), small items to trade, and sometimes travel bugs. A travel bug is a registered trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. used to describe a dog tag used in Geocaching. It is moved from cache to cache, with a unique tracking number allowing its movements to be tracked online (www.geocaching.com). Many travel bugs have specific missions. For example, I once discovered a Hello Kitty travel bug here in Michigan while geocaching with my niece and nephew whose mission was to reach Japan.
So what does all this have to do with marketing a book? Well, I took three copies of my first book and turned them into travel bugs. One's mission was just to get into the hands of as many readers as possible, but the two others I pitted in a race against each other. One started in Ann Arbor and the other in East Lansing and to win the race, one book had to travel further than the other with the stipulation that each person who found it would read a chapter before placing it in a new cache. This was just before the release of the second book in the series.
I am happy to report that 2 of 3 of these books are still out there in the world being seen (and hopefully read) by people I don't know. It is certainly a cheaper way to advertise than putting an add on a website or newspaper, etc., and I've had some nice positive feedback.
Moonlight Medicine: Onset
"Found this with my husband, Mrrov and my mother-in-law, Celticcat63. I definitely plan on reading this with mrrov and then moving it along so others can enjoy."
"found this one in oderwachers fangorn forest cache while out with my wife and some friends. my wife seems interested in reading it but we will move it on shortly."
"Well, that was different. Retrieved from The I 275/ M14/ I 96 Detroit's Rough TB Prison !! (GC180W5)."
"Picked this unique TB up at the Leap Day Luau event on FEB 29th! Don't get to write that date very often. I rarely pick up TBs at events (usually let others grab them), but this one was a BOOK! I've only read the first page so far, but it's already sparked my interest. I'll make sure to read more before dropping it into a cache. The book is beginning to smell a bit musty. I'll add a piece of a dryer sheet before moving along to help cut down on the smell and moisture build up. Thanks for putting this story out there for all to read. Great idea for a travel bug! If we could give favorite points for TBs, I'd give this one. :-)"
"First travel bug of its kind that I've seen. We will do our best to help it along! Shouldn't be too hard since I'm a fast reader."
"We read two random chapters!"
"Unfortunately for this TB, I am a Michigan fan (Go Blue!!!), but fortunately, I love geocaching more, so we'll be sure to read this and move it right along. :)"
"Looking for a cache large enough to be dropped. Meanwhile my holder is enjoying many of the pages that I have to offer. Perhaps even chapters have been completed. "
MMO: U of M
"What a great TB :)"
"What a unique TB! We discovered it while biking the trails in this great state park and finding a few new caches. We stood by the trail and read the last chapter (not our normal way of reading!!!) and enjoyed the view nearby - decided we better leave it for another cacher, as there aren't too many caches large enough to hold it where we'll be going. Thanks for the fun with this one."
"Good luck on your journey!! Thanks for a great read!!"
If you want to know who won the original race...sadly (for Green and White) it was MMO: U of M, but the race is ongoing. Combined these TB's (travel bugs) have traveled 2,733 miles!
I have no idea how this is impacting actual sales, but I have now placed TB's of 2 copies of Moonlight Medicine: Epidemic out in the geocaching world in a new race leading up to the book launch party of the third book on May 7th.
MME:MSU has yet to leave its starting gate at "Fun, Health, Wisdom, Prosperity, and Dream," (so MSU fans may want to help it along) but MME: UofM is already in the hands of a geocacher who may just be on to my clever plan.
"Grabbed from Wolverine. Wait, is this just a clever trick to get me to read your book?
Would have been easier if it was the first one, but maybe I'll give it a try.
You are welcome for the travel bug. ;)
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