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.