When researching how to market The Conjurors Series, I’ve read hundreds of articles on building a social media presence, leveraging Amazon, and where to list my novel as an e-book and a print book. But an excellent blog post by The Writing Teacher got me thinking about some local ways to get the word out when you self-publish. After all, you probably have an existing, strong network of people within their community who might be willing to help you promote your book if you ask. I did a little digging and found some useful ways to tap into your local community to market your book.
Talk to Nearby Libraries
Aside from agreeing to carry your book, many local libraries are eager to host readings by authors in the community. Many libraries welcome professional, high-quality books that are donated, and even have shelf space set aside for local authors. To increase your chances of being carried, have friends and family stop by the library and request your book. Libraries take requests seriously, and if your book is in demand they will be more likely to be open to displaying your book prominently. On a related note, I also read a recent blog post by Author Media that suggested having readings of your book at other places in your community, such as retirement communities, churches, and schools.
Pitch to Local Press
At first it seemed far-fetched to me that any local news channel, radio station or paper would consider covering a local writer. And it’s true that when you are completely unknown, it’s harder to get the attention of even your local media. But as you build buzz for your book by participating in events in your community, a well-crafted pitch may attract the attention of a reporter. Put together a high-quality media kit and you may be surprised by the response. For tips on what to include and how to put it together check out this post by The Alliance of Independent Authors.
Approach Local Businesses
Aside from independent bookstores in your community, many other businesses are open to selling books in a section of their store. Small grocers and magazine stands often have novels and other books available, and some even have sections for local authors. Consider offering these businesses a discount in order to entice them to carry your book. It is especially critical that your book be available at local vendors after promoting it with local press. You want people to see your book while it’s still top-of-mind for them.
Set Up a Booth at Local Events
Craft fairs, flea markets, county fairs and even farmer’s markets are all venues to get your face and book in the public eye. Don’t be afraid to list times for readings of excerpts of your story, or, if it’s nonfiction, possibly a demonstration or discussion on tips regarding a certain topic. Another option that is sure to attract crowds is a giveaway. Have potential readers put their name and contact information in a bowl, and having a drawing for free books at a designated time. That way, you can reach out to the entrants who didn’t win by offering an e-book version of your book at a reduced cost (or free).
Sponsor a Local Cause
Rather than teaming up with a random local cause, consider these two options. First, search for a cause that is related to your book. For example, I write YA fantasy, so I plan to look for organizations that support educating disadvantaged youth in the community. I can donate proceeds from my book to the cause and also give it away to the organization for the students they support to read. A second consideration is teaming up with another local group, like a band, who also support a cause. There is power in numbers, and by teaming up you’ll reach an expanded network of potential readers.
Have you ever promoted your book locally? If so, what techniques did you use and how successful were you?