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7 Ways Authors Can Market Without the Internet

Monday, September 6, 2010

Marketing has been on my mind a lot lately. With the release of my book only weeks away, I can’t put off the fact that the time has finally come to make concerted efforts at promoting my book.

In previous posts, we’ve talked about online marketing and what that entails. On my News and Events Page I’ve listed the various online interviews, guest posts, and giveaways that I’m doing. Yes, an online presence is incredibly helpful and important for today’s authors.

But what about traditional marketing efforts? What—if anything—can writers do to market their books through other outlets besides the internet?

Some of you have asked me that question, so I thought I’d share a few of the other things I’ve been up to outside of cyberland. Just so everyone knows, I’m NOT fond of promoting my own book. I’d much rather give it away. In other words, I’m not the exemplary marketing role model. But hopefully you can draw ideas from what I’m doing, or at the very least, encouragement—if an inept salesperson like me can make efforts, anyone can.

1. Develop visuals for myself and my book. This includes professionally designed business cards (my web designer made mine to match my website) and bookmarks (my Bethany House publicist designed mine but there are other places that do this inexpensively). (See the slideshow in the sidebar if you'd like to take a look at an example of both.) In addition, my publicist also developed a recipe card for my book. It has an old recipe used in the book as well as a modern equivalent. It’s just one more thing I can hand out to people to help them visualize and get excited about my book.

2. Put together a packet of introductory material. My publicist suggested I make a packet that included: my business card, a letter of introduction, a bookmark or sheet with the picture of my book, and a little bit about the book. I even have extra covers of my book to use as folders for storing the information.

3. Make contact with local businesses. I made a list of places I’d like to go or people I want to call. Then, armed with business cards, bookmarks, or my packets of introductory material, I’ve begun the process of visiting places in my community and introducing myself—libraries, bookstores, churches, radio stations, etc.

4. Give away free books to key connections. My publisher sends out ARCs and Influencer copies. But as part of my contract, I also get author copies that I can use however I want. I’m reserving some copies to personally deliver to influential community members, but also to some of the friends I’ve made at the places I buy my clothes, get my hair styled, etc.

5. Advertise in local publications. Bethany House has already taken care of sending out blurbs about my book to many places—like schools, alumni magazines, newspapers in past cities I’ve lived in, etc. But I’m doing more local, smaller scale advertising. For example, I wrote up announcements for the local business group association and for my church newsletter.

6. Plan a Book Release Party. I contacted the locally owned bookstore that I’ve shopped at for years and the owner graciously agreed to let me have a party there. I’m sending invitations to friends as well as putting up posters around town. During the party, I’ll have food and drinks, and also drawings for gift baskets I’ve assembled. My hope with the party is two-fold: I want to celebrate with friends as well as start some hometown buzz about the book.

7. Arrange Book Signings. There are pros and cons of book signings. Many of us hear that book signings just don’t draw crowds the way they used to. Even big name authors struggle to get decent turn outs. Even so, I’m giving book signings a try, and so far have a couple on the calendar. I’ll make sure to blog about my experience!

Bonus: I'm renting billboards around the state like in the above picture. Isn't it just lovely?! (Hopefully you know I'm just kidding!)

So, there you have it. So far, the above list wraps up my non-internet marketing efforts. Fortunately my publishing house does an incredible job sending out ARCs for advance reviews, making sure my book is in major book catalogs, as well as in major bookstores, among many other things.

All that to say, my measly marketing attempts pale in comparison to what my publisher is doing. Their efforts will make all the world of difference in getting my book in the public eye in a way I could never hope to accomplish on my own.

What are some other ways authors can market their books without using the internet? What have you seen other authors do (or have you done)? I’d love more ideas! And if you don’t have any ideas, tell me what you think of book signings. Are they losing their effectiveness in today’s internet culture?

P.S. Make sure you answer this week’s Trivia Question #1 for a chance to win a free copy of The Preacher’s Bride!

43 comments:

  1. These are some great ideas. I love the book party idea. Have fun! I wish I lived close enough to be there.

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  2. I would love to go to a book signing. They tend not to have them here in Cyprus. If I am published, I will definitely have one.

    I love how you have been so productive, you deserve great success Jody.

    My friend laminated 4 covers of her father's book. She uses them as place mats. They looked so effective.

    Have you thought about the flyer from a plane idea. LOL ☺

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  3. I love the idea of planning a party. I bet you could have guessed that. :D

    I knew you'd be here today, on Labor Day.

    I really can't wait to meet you.

    Excellent post. I have fun coming up with ways to promote my book. I heard Wally Lamb did a spontaneous book signing at a local book store recently and I missed it. I missed it!

    Visiting book clubs and reading groups (did you mention that?)
    ~ Wendy

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  4. The signing I had closer to home obviously drew in more people. Two local papers ran articles about the books release prior to the signings. One Radio station had been giving away a copy of my book for about a week before the signing and they also mentioned it on air. This I didn't even have to solicit as the radio announcer like to promote local. Got to love that!

    The signings I went to in the city were attended by a few who happened to take pity on me sitting there by myself as they walked in but that I pretty much expected with a first novel. We are unknown, after all. I enjoyed all my signings because even if people weren't buying books some would stop and have a chat. ---Maritime hospitality! You'll do great, Jody. I'm so excited for you.

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  5. The billboard is hysterical.

    I have REALLY enjoyed my book signings. A hint? You might call big churches in the area and see if they have a library. And the paper, tho' it's not easy to get them to cover such things. Out of over 20 signings, I've only had a couple with sparse turnouts, and I believe this helped.

    Blessings, dear one!
    See you soon!
    Patti

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  6. Amazing list Jody!! I hope I get to try these things out some day! Have a great Labor Day!

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  7. Can't wait to hear all your advice about what worked for you the best on the other side!

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  8. You could get one of those side decals for your car..... just saying.

    Cheaper than a billboard. :O)

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  9. Since my book is aimed at the school market/library/museum crowd, I've gathered a lot of pioneer museum addresses and addresses of schools and libraries in Kansas, where the story takes place.

    I suppose I'm cheating a bit...the addresses did come from the Internet!

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  10. Love the billboard! I'll have to plan a trip to your state just to see it. :)

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  11. I loved the book signing party my church threw for me - and I had a newspaper article in my hometown paper. That was fun!

    One of the other things I loved seeing was when some of my facebook friends reposted the note I wrote about my book...onto their own walls so their friends could see it!

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  12. I can't think of anything besides what you've already listed, but as far as book signings go - they are one of my favorite things. Meeting the author, getting a chance to see that they care about their readers, is fun.

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  13. Hi Jody,

    This is so exciting!

    The only other thing I can think of is for you to connect with local book groups and offer to go visit with them about the book once they've read it. Our local bookstore used to keep a list of book groups and their reading selections - maybe you'd be allowed to contact someone by email. Or you could do posters/flyers aimed at book groups. That way you know everyone in the group will buy your book - and you get to discuss it with them at length :) I think that would be a ton of fun. My husband wrote a book (theology) and a book group had him in to talk. He really enjoyed it. Have fun!!

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  14. A self-published author in my town has many MANY billboards advertising his book all around here. I thought your joke was very funny.
    Another great post, Jody.
    I'm looking at giving dogsled rides at my launch. Book themed events can work I think.

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  15. Terrific ideas, Jody.

    Consider contacting your local Christian radio station and ask about the cost to air a commercial about the book, or see if they will have you on as a quick guest. Perhaps you could do a contest or something.

    Have you contacted your local library to arrange for a book signing and reading?

    What about contacting all of the churches in your area and/or denomination to see if they would be interested in having you as a guest speaker?

    Talk to the schools in your area to see if the reading/English teachers would like you to come in and talk to their classes about the book industry.

    And just for fun...

    You have five lovely children--create sandwich boards that say "Buy My Mom's Book" and have them walk up and down the streets in your community...KIDDING!!

    Create t-shirts for your family to wear--"My _____ wrote this great book and you should buy it."

    I've been on a social networking/blog fast for the past month, so now I need to catch up on the great posts I missed.

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  16. Ah, the business aspect of writing!

    Anyone can write; not anyone can sell. Sounds like you're doing a fine job at both.

    I said to my wife yesterday: "Baby, when I get a book deal, and I will, eventually, I think I'm gonna do my book signings in a pub or a bar or something. I'm just not a bookstore-signing kinda guy."

    While that may or may not be a great idea -- we'll see -- I do believe in T-Bone thinking. By that, I mean while everyone else is hitting sales from left-to-right, I'm trying to find an up-down approach.

    You see what I mean? Something non-traditional that might go spark-to-flame.

    - Eric

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  17. So it stunned me to read that author's are having trouble getting book signing audiences! I'm always afraid that if I go, there will be way too many people and it will be, "Here's the book. Please sign it. You're awesome. Okay, next!"

    I don't go to many, but only because my favorite authors don't come in my area often. :/ If they did - I would be there! Especially since I know there won't be too big of a crowd to compete with haha. Which is sad for the author - but bliss for the fan!

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  18. I'm LOVING all of your ideas this morning!!! Thank you all for sharing! And Eric, I really like the idea of T-Bone thinking--going non-traditional and thinking up and down. Love that!

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  19. This is a great list...I especially like the idea of having an intro packet together.

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  20. Thanks for posting. My crossover Christian/Horror e-book, published this past February is becoming a paperback in October. I am already doing some of what you wrote about, but will use some of your ideas as well, especially the idea of promotional material packets. I love that idea already.
    Continued success to you,
    -James

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  21. Local speaking is a fantastic way to get word out in the community. I contacted our local historical museum about having my launch party there. Too pricey, but someone there contacted the Women's Club, who asked me to speak. The talk went well, and those ladies KNOW people - within a week I had a half-page feature in the newspaper and an interview in the freebie newspaper. That led to more contacts. From one little talk.
    Most creative marketing idea - one of my dear writer friends, Marci Seither, made 1940s vintage aprons with my book cover on the pocket. She talked the owner of the fabric/quilt store into displaying the apron. A book club meets in the store and read my book! Oh, and Marci walked around the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference wearing an apron and passing out bookmarks! Talk about outside-the-box marketing!

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  22. All excellent pointers. I'm taking notes from people who's books are coming out now as to what they're doing. I hope you'll report what worked and what didn't. Maybe?

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  23. thanks for such an informative post, Jody. And, I loved the billboard comment!!!

    I'll be curious to hear how things go for you. Thanks for sharing. It's really invaluable information.

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  24. This is SO helpful!! I really like the idea of having a release party at a local bookstore. I also love your idea of the recipes cards that has the old recipe and the equivalent. I have a question for you about ARC's... you mentioned your publisher did them. What did you think about that process?? Are you glad they did it?

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  25. I love the thought of throwing a release party. I would definately do that. These are great tips. Something to print off and impliment when I'm published!

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  26. You make marketing seem doable, rather than overwhelming. Thanks.

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  27. When you say you're "not the exemplary marketing role mode" you're wrong. From what I've been hearing, a great many writers feel the same way about self-promotion as you do, but you've been showing us that despite those feelings it's possible to get the job done. You model commitment all wrapped up with determination, faithfulness and a humble spirit. I'd say you're setting an excellent example!

    You've covered a lot of ground here. I notice you already have an audio interview on your site. Any plans for a video trailer as well? What about getting personalized pens and giving them out to each person who attends your launch and signings? They may be a little after the fact but would outlast the readers' time with TPB and keep your name out there until the next book releases. Just an idea. :)

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  28. I think people who went to book signings before will still go, but I think debut authors or less known authors will have a really tough time getting people to come.

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  29. Elana asked: I hope you'll report what worked and what didn't. Maybe?

    My Answer: Most definitely!! I'm an open book here on my blog! :-)

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  30. Carol Garvin asked: Any plans for a video trailer as well? What about getting personalized pens and giving them out to each person who attends your launch and signings?

    My Answer: Carol, great question! When I talked with the marketing dept. at Bethany House earlier in the year, they didn't think that book trailers were all that effective. In fact, if done poorly, they can even detract from the book. So, I decided with my first book to hold off. I've tossed around the idea for my second book! But we'll see!

    And I like the pen idea!! Thank you for the suggestion! :-)

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  31. Erin asked: I have a question for you about ARC's... you mentioned your publisher did them. What did you think about that process?? Are you glad they did it?

    My Answer: ARCs are one of the BEST ways of getting early reviews on a book. My publisher sent ARCs out several months ago (you'll have to read my previous post about it). They sent the ARCs to major book chains and reviewers. Out of that I've gotten some great promotion already. Most recently Romantic Times Magazine gave my book a 4 1/2 star review (which is their highest). Christianbook.com gave me a really great review and they're giving me top spots in their magazine--all because of the ARC.

    All that to say, the ARCs are one of the best ways to get pre-publicity promotion within bookchains and book buyers.

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  32. Thanks so much for putting up this post. This is where I'm totally lost about. I'm also really interested how your book signings go. I think I'd have to hire a whole bunch of friends to pose as interested buyers ;) I'd hate to be sitting there all on my ownsome.

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  33. This is a wonderful list. I think some people think that the only way to market is via the internet, but as you illustrated, this is not the case. I think book clubs might also be a good place to share. Perhaps a writer's group meeting, workshop, or panel would be another idea.
    Thanks and Blessings,
    Karen

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  34. Best of luck! There's so much to do, and since I've been doing most of it for my book, I get burned out now and then.

    And don't forget, as I occasionally do, that you can't stop writing.

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  35. Love the marketing ideas, Jody. I feel your efforts will yield good results. All the best!
    In India I have seen few authors keep their books in department stores (they do this by themselves, its not done by their publisher).

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  36. Thanks, Jody for tweeting about my post on dialogues. Its so sweet of you.

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  37. An interesting post. I dream of someday going to stores in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, stores that sell Smoky Mountain merchandise, hiking hear, book, etc.

    Any place that might be interested in a story about our area.

    I also want to take the time time to give you my new blog address:

    http://brittmitchell.blogspot.com/

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  38. Those sound like some really great ideas.

    I don't have any brilliant suggestions to add, really. Other than arming your mother with a few cards and bookmarks and unleashing her on the world. I know my mom would talk anyone and everyone's ear off if it was my book. Moms are good like that.

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  39. Hi Jody -

    Great ideas! Why not have your main character show up at the party? A friend could dress up like they do at Williamsburg and other historical sites.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  40. You forgot to tell everyone that you signed me up to trudge around Lansing in sandwich boards.

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  41. I have to tell you how much I love that billboard! Awesome.

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  42. I formed a bookselling business and go to craft events and scfi conventions where I can hand-sell my books.I blogged about it here:
    http://authorguy.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/upcoming-events/

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