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Book Marketing Shots in the Dark

photo of a jack in the box

Indie authors think outside the box

Our regular end-of-month round-up of off-the-wall marketing ideas that really work, brought to you by ALLi author members promoting their self-published books all over the world.

Something Sensational to Read on the Train

Denise Barnes: Did I tell everyone that I finally finished War and Peace? On the train to London last week I shared a table with two strangers who were quietly reading their newspaper and book and I suddenly closed Volume 3 (no way could I ever have read it if it was one huge book) and said I wanted to share something tremendous with them. They immediately stopped their reading and I told them. They congratulated me, and the three of us had a great conversation until we hit Victoria Station. One of them alighted on to the platform with a copy of one of my books under his arm!

Bypass Bookstores for Non-bookstores

Georgia Rose: For all those indie authors who want to get their books into bookshops and see that as the answer to getting their books out there, try bypassing bookstores for non-specialist shops where there’s less competition. Bookstores are not necessarily the best place for generating sales. I have mine in a couple of bookshops but also in some local pubs and shops attached to pubs. You know how amenities seem to be amalgamating nowadays. Anyway, I have found that I sell far more at the smaller outlets than via bookshops, Last Friday eight copies were sold from just one village shop! This stands to reason as your books can sometimes be the only ones in that outlet so they stand out rather than having to fight to make an impact in a place filled with similar. So if you are struggling to find independent bookshops to take your books I would highly recommend checking out other alternatives around you.

Kathy JoyceI did a signing in the foyer of Waitrose one Saturday morning and sold more there than at any other signing despite the title misleading one or two possible customers. A comment of ‘i make my own’ could be forgiven given my Lit Fiction novel being entitled Thicker Than Soup.

Karen Myers: “My first series has a tie in with the foxhunting crowd, and I sold far more books in the local shops that cater to those people than in standard bookshops.”

Lorna Sixsmith, who writes books about being a farmer’s wife, says: “I’ve found some gift shops and farm shops to work well. Two branches of a gift shop sold 95 books for me before Xmas. I was delighted. Another benefit is they are happy with lower margin than the book wholesalers which makes a huge difference.

The Enduring Appeal of Chocolate

Fiona Joseph:  Last Friday I had a call from the Carillon Visitor Centre and Rest House in Bournville Village (not Cadbury World) saying they would take 6 copies of each of my Cadbury-themed books. It’s the only agreement I’ve made on a sale or return basis but I’m happy to do it in this case because they’re a charity (and they were pleased with the 40% discount I offered). It’s nice to be able to support a smaller enterprise!

Crafty Thinking

Shelley Wilson: I did really well last year when I signed up for a string of craft fairs. At each event I was the only author and that was my USP! It helps to think outside the box when marketing your novels. Alice Degan: I make hand-bound notebooks, and I have exhibited in a couple of craft fairs with copies of my novels as well as the notebooks for sale. I used the line, “And I have books with words in them, too!” As Georgia says, it is time-consuming, but I found it surprisingly fun.

Banking on Sales

Karen Inglis: Yesterday I spent two hours rearranging our mortgage, and during the questions I mentioned that I write children’s books. The adviser today has told me she has read the reviews on Amazon of my books and will definitely be placing an order as she has a 6-year-old. She also said she will leave a review. In short – make the most of your marketing opportunities even when someone is selling you something (Similar thing happened with the VAT inspector last month!)

Wendy Jones has been asked by her bank manager (who bought one of her books) to do a book signing in the bank. Best to keep an eye on her cheque book so signature can’t be copied on to that!

Joanna Sheen says: My bank manager is an avid reader of my books and indeed I noticed has left a positive review on each of them – haaa banks are good for some things then!

Fiona Cameron reports: I did a book signing (one book!) at the car dealer’s when picking up my new car (the salesman’s wife had a copy of my latest book).

Last word this month has to go to an author whose intention has not been to market her books, but simply to be kind.

Book Marketing Karma

Cover of Rosette by Cindy Rinaman Marsch

Marketing rosette surely earned by Cindy Rinaman Marsch’s act of kindness

Cindy Rinaman Marsch: I have really been struck with the idea of writers needing to be “good citizens” of the writing community–encouraging others, writing reviews, etc. We also need to be fully appreciative of those who have helped us along the way in our own writing.

I had a lovely experience today related to that. Research for my historical novel found a few lines on Google from a book not fully available except in a pricey hardback – a self-published family history. I wrote the author with a request for just the page I thought I needed, and I learned the author had died. But his daughter wrote (on behalf of her mother, the widow) to offer me a copy for free. I was so grateful, and I discovered many other things in the book that were a great help to my work.

So last week, after I got my first shipment of paperbacks of my novel, I gulped (I’m SO in the hole writing this book and not making much, as most of you can appreciate) and sent a copy to the widow. The daughter emailed me today and said how grateful they were for that and for the mention in the acknowledgements. She said her mom was already reading the novel and had just ordered five copies for all her (grown) children. Sometimes the expensive “doing good” really pays off!

OVER TO YOU Feel free to add your lateral thinking marketing ideas via the comments box – or if you’re a member of ALLi, post them on our closed Facebook forum (members-only) for inclusion in next month’s round up, tagging Debbie Young.

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2 Responses to Book Marketing Shots in the Dark

  1. Cindy Marsch March 26, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    Great ideas, and I am honored to have been included! I think the message throughout this post is, “Do what you do, be who you are, and look for opportunities.” Promotion without something substantial to promote, or out of proportion with what we have to promote, is a futile endeavor, in the end.”

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