Ah, marketing. An important task for the independent publisher and we can never do enough of it. There’s always something more that we can do. So much of our marketing these days is done online and that’s great – not least because it keeps our promotions spending down as much as possible – but there is still an important role for offline marketing.
So here are some offline marketing ideas – some serious, some a bit more, um, ‘inventive’ – that independent publishers might like to try.
1) Research local, independent bookstores and ask the owner very nicely if they’d consider stocking copies of your book. Ask them even more nicely if they’ll let you do a signing.
2) Call the local newspaper and let them know you’ve got a book out. Papers are always looking for stories and you never know what sort of coverage they might be able to give you.
3) Write a press release and send it out to carefully-selected targets.
4) Find a local reading group and offer them free copies of your book to read and review. Offer to turn up to their meeting to talk about the book and get their feedback.
5) Make up a sandwich board advertising your book. Put it on. Go for a walk. Smile even if you’re grimacing inside. Better yet, get someone else to wear the sandwich board for you.
6) Ask local cafes and other businesses if you can leave free sample chapters in their shops for customers to take away and read. Make sure you put information on the sample chapters so they know where to get the rest of the book.
7) See if there are any festivals or events you could attend in your capacity as a self-published author. As independent publishing becomes more popular, people are more interested in what authors who take that route have to say. Even if you just get yourself in to talk at a small school event, it could help you.
8) Print up some leaflets about your book and try some good old fashioned leafleting. If you give out sweets or some other small gift at the same time, people might be more eager to accept your promotional literature.
9) Don’t give out business cards when you meet new people. Give them bookmarks that advertise your book.
10) Network. Go to writing events and chat to people.
11) Talk to people. A lot. Whenever you get the chance. In cafes, in the pub, whenever you bump into friends in the street. Whenever you get the chance to talk about your book, do it. Truth be told, if you’ve got a book out you’ll probably be doing this automatically, but a bit of conscious effort never hurts.
12) Dare yourself to add the sentence “I’ve just self-published a book” after your name every time you introduce yourself to someone.
13) Shamelessly ask your friends and family to plug your book at every chance they get. If possible, arm them with copies of the book so they can ‘just happen to have it with them’ when they’re talking it up to people. Bribe them to do it if you need to.
14) Make as many ‘public appearances’ as you can, whether it’s judging the local school’s fancy dress competition, giving readings or getting yourself a table at the church charity event.
What offline marketing activities have you tried?