Think Outside the Bookstore
by Flora Morris Brown
Take photos at your Meetup
Major changes in the publishing industry have made it clear that we must be more creative about the way we market books. Traditional publishers only offered minimal help with marketing in the past. Now with bookstores dwindling, and the remaining ones becoming more selective about which books they stock, we are on our own more than ever. As a result, self-published authors must be assertive and proactive in stimulating book sales, and realize that the bookstore, whether on or offline, is just one option.
My favorite tip for marketing a book, therefore, is to think outside the bookstore.
Thinking outside the bookstore means to look for marketing opportunities around you, in your community, and then among the relationships you’ve built up over time. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Speak at a Meet the Author Book Talk
Get friends, colleagues or loved ones to host a lunch or dinner gathering of their friends where you appear to talk about your book and sell copies as well. Patterned after home parties of old, the guests who attend these events are already predisposed to buy, and sometimes get multiple copies as gifts.
2. Host a Tweetup
Plan your own gathering at a local coffee shop, library, restaurant or even your local gym where you send out invites via your own Twitter as well as that of the host. Position a small table off from the main door and be sure to have prizes or samples to give customers who buy or even inquire.
3. Start a Meetup Group
Set up an account at meetup.com on your book’s topic. Most meetups don’t charge attendance fees, but you could require participants to buy your book since it’ll be the focal point of the discussions. You could facilitate discussions of your book at each meeting and/or have members engage in interactive activities on a topic related to your book.
4. Create a Gift Basket Contest.
Set up a gift basket contest where designers compete for a prize. The focal point of the basket must be your book and the completed designs may be sold on the designers’ websites whether they win or not.
The designers buy the book from you and create a design that best reflects the mission and theme of your book. Tip: make the prize something nontangible such as a social media marketing campaign that will be highly valued by the winner.
These are just a few of the ways that marketing your book outside the bookstore can pay off not only in immediate sales, but in building relationships for future appearances and sales as well. To succeed with these ideas, of course, you will need to promote them in advance and use the power of press releases, social media and outside-the-box-thinking to build buzz.
When you make efforts such as these part of your book launch and marketing campaign, you will enjoy the visibility and book sales you deserve.