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Book Marketing Beyond the Box: Easy Guerilla Marketing Techniques for Your Book

I recently attended a Book Elves Boot Camp workshop where Thomas Umstattd of Author Media presented 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites. I walked away with a wealth of new insight and inspiration, but one comment in particular that Thomas made resulted in a bit of an “aha” moment for me. He said, “Publishing companies have no idea who your readers are.”

Whether you are self-published or use a traditional publishing company, marketing your book ultimately rests on your shoulders. Yes, you can hire a marketing firm to assist, but if you are not presently in the financial position to do this, your book promotion campaign does not have to be a budget buster. A little creative mojo can give your book exposure a boost. Here are some guerilla marketing methods other authors have found tried and true:

Local Retail Look for local gift shops, book stores, restaurants and other retailers who will promote the “local author.” Ask about setting up a countertop or other display. Look for specialty retailers that pertain to your book genre or topic.

Non-traditional Book Signings In addition to the standard book store book signings, search out off-the-beaten-path locations for book signings – parks, diners, places of interest that inspired some part of your book like a character or a concept you wrote about.

Local library Donate a copy of your book to the local library. Take the time to introduce yourself as a local author and discuss the book’s topic with them; many libraries feature books by local authors.

Local Groups Use MeetUp to find and join local real-life groups that are centered around a common interest relevant to your book topic.

Local Media Interviews If your book topic is of interest to the general public, look into local radio, television and newspapers for interviews. Specifically look for radio shows or newspaper columns that relate to your genre or topic or lifestyle sections that might feature a local author. Send a press kit with info about you and your book. Your press kit should include a pitch about why your book will be of interest to their listeners, viewers or readers. If your book is non-fiction, what are the top 10 ideas from your book? What solution do you provide in your book? If it is fiction, what is the story behind the story?

Book Reviews Launch a book review campaign. Include positive reviews on your website and social media; use them to help you gain access to larger markets. Book reviews are more objective than advertising and often carry more weight when potential readers and readers are considering your book.

Advance Sales Identify a target market for your book and offer them a special discount for pre-orders. Some authors have actually pre-sold enough books to pay for the first printing.

Teach Others If you are comfortable speaking in front of others, and if your book topic is something that can translate into a class or workshop, search out teaching assignments or speaking engagements at conferences, community schools or other events. Publicity materials for these can include reference to your book.

Enter Competitions Enter your book in competitions. Look for contests that don’t require a high entry fee, niche contests related to your book genre or topic and those friendly to self-published books. There are awards for niche, editing, cover design, etc. Even if you don’t win, special mentions, nominations and other award levels still lend credibility to your book and can be used in marketing materials and press releases.

Trade Shows & Fairs Look for local events centered around your niche (auto repair-car shows; careers-job fairs, etc.) Use a game or drawing to gain interest in your booth. Use an eye-catching display. Be sure to follow up with all contacts made at the show in a timely manner.

Book Clubs Look for local book clubs (try using Meetup, Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as the local library). If your book topic fits, introduce yourself as a local author and offer to share your book. If they choose it, offer to join in when they discuss it.

Engage Your Network Generate an email campaign to your personal network, clubs or organizations that you belong to that relate to your book topic or genre. Let them know you have written a book, tell them a little about the book. Include a link to your website where they can learn more and/or purchase the book. Ask them to please forward the email to anyone they think might be interested in your book or in scheduling a speaking engagement or book signing.

Bring Your Book to Life Ask your friends, family and readers to take a picture of your book (or e-book on their e-reader) wherever they are (anywhere in the world). Have them email the pictures to you or post them on Facebook. You can add funny or informative captions about the book’s surroundings. You can create albums on your author or book’s Facebook page, Pinterest and your website. You can also post the pictures on your book’s Amazon page (Customer Images section just below the cover image). This is a fun way to show that your book is being read by all kinds of people all over the country (or around the world).

Share with Alumni Share the fact that you have written a book with high school and college classmates. You don’t want to pressure them to buy a copy, but some will buy it out of a sense of class pride (“the author’s an old friend of mine” kind of feeling).

These are just a few of the ways you can be your own street team in marketing your book. You are literally limited only by your imagination. Hopefully this will help get your creative juices flowing. Get creative. Have fun. You CAN do this!


Rachael Wilkins creates custom graphic and written content to meet the online and print marketing needs of micro-businesses and organizations. She is the owner and Senior Consultant of Freestyle Business Solutions.


7 Tips for Using Social Media to Market Your Book

Social media is about relationships, and relationships are about communication. When using social media platforms to market your book, the idea is to build the kind of lasting connection with your fans and readers that will naturally lead to them telling others about you and your book. Be the person they want to hear from – not that guy who drones on endlessly about how his amazing book will change their life forever. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Know Your Audience. The first rule of thumb in developing a social media marketing plan is identifying your target reader and where their social media hangouts are. Are they fast-paced movers and shakers, on-the-go types who are likely to prefer the short and sweet world of Twitter? Are they relational types who can be found night and day on Facebook? Are they more serious business types who frequent the water cooler at LinkedIn? Once you know who your target audience is and where they hang out, you can focus more of your time and attention in that arena.

2. Encourage Interaction. Engage your online friends and fans with relevant content that invites and encourages conversation – ask questions, seek their opinion about something or take a poll.
3. Quality Trumps Quantity. A current television commercial opens with a man sitting with a group of young children asking them the question, “Who thinks that more is better than less?” The assumption, of course, is that more is always better than less – any kid knows that. But when it comes to promoting your book on social media, more is not always better; sometimes more is just more. According to a recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet, more than four in five consumers have ended relationships with brands on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, “because of irrelevant, too frequent or boring messages.” Don’t be that guy. Posting great content less frequently gives your readers something to look forward to.
4. Embrace the Group Dynamic. In addition to posting on your own social media profiles and pages, join Facebook and LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your topic or are welcoming of authors. Engage in existing group discussions or start your own. Post interesting content on the group pages, including the occasional link or reference to your book, website or blog. No high pressure sales here – just establish yourself as the go-to guy or gal in the area related to your book. Again, this is about building relationships.
5. Include Media. Sprinkle in occasional photos, videos and graphics to capture the attention of your friends and fans. If you create original graphics, be sure to include your website somewhere on the image itself so that if it is shared, people will know where it originated from – and perhaps visit your website to learn more about you and your book.

6. Keep it Brief. Post for the short attention span that most of us have.
7. Be Relevant. Your posts should be relevant to your readers. They don’t want to be hit every day with the social media equivalent of an infomercial pressuring them to buy your book. What they do want is interaction with someone who knows what they are talking about. Whatever your book topic is, establish yourself as an expert in that area with clear and concise content that engages your reader and they will want to hear more of what you have to say (which translates into them buying your book).

Remember – they call it social media for a reason. Relationship is the name of the game. Play to win.