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Book Marketing Shots In the Dark: Wacky Ideas that Really Work

10c stamp commemorating Mark Twain

Mark Twain gives us his 10 cents worth (Image by US Post Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Our monthly post about unusual ideas about marketing and promoting your self-published books is always fun to collate – and this month I’m going to kick off with a quote you probably already know by one of my favourite self-publishers, Mark Twain:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

I think that’s analagous to the attitude of novice indie authors to book marketing. First of all, they assume those who have achieved amazing successes have just been lucky, and that finding that success for themselves is about as likely as finding a mermaid on the beach.

However, the longer they stick around in self-publishing, the more they come to realise that successful book marketing actually grows out of a whole bunch of other things:

smart thinking, creative ideas, courage, a methodical approach, sheer hard work, opportunism and being constantly alert to spotting marketing opportunities 24/7, and not just when you’re sitting at your desk in your designated marketing hour (or however long you’ve allotted yourself each day).

That’s what this series of posts is really all about: how to make your own luck in the world of book marketing, with clever ideas, an imaginative approach and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone and reach for the stars. This month three ALLi author members share some smart creative marketing ideas:

ALLi’s children’s author advisor Karen Inglis shares her experience of selling opportunistically to tradesmen who visit her home:

“A sash window company just came to quote to upgrade the windows in our house and towards the end of the visit the guy asked me what I did. When I told him, he asked to see my books. He then took photos of them and ordered two of each to be posted and signed for his kids who are home-schooled! In fact he beat me to it when he asked what I did, as I had already planned to ask if he had kids. So the message for all of you children’s authors: make sure you have your books around the house when tradesmen or women call and, if they don’t say anything, ask them if they have kids and see where the conversation goes. (You may have read that when HMRC sent a VAT inspector last year, before she left she ordered The Secret Lake for her daughter!)”

ALLi author Russell Phillips, who writes about military technology and history, was on the receiving end of another author’s tactic.

“A friend of mine wrote a short story featuring an alternate version of me, as a thank you. Being the narcissist that I am, I shared it on social media.”

Whether or not that was his friend’s intention, we may never know, but he certainly will have boosted his story’s discoverability this way.

By the same token, if you’re ever quoting another author on the front of back cover of one of your books, or in the acknowledgements, it’s worth considering sending that author a jpeg of the appropriate image, so they can share it how they think fit. (Plus of course an actual copy of the book would be courteous, so they can physically show people and tell them about your book too – it all helps you reach more readers.

Finally, ALLi author Julie Day has flagged up her intention to take advantage of a national event to promote her recently published children’s book about living with Asperger’s Syndrome (which Julie has herself), by tapping into National Autism Awareness Week at the end of March. “I plan to do a library event to raise awareness of it along with my book,” says Julie.

OVER TO YOU What’s the wackiest thing you’ve ever done to market your book? We’d love to know!

How to be a more opportunistic book marketer - by @DebbieYoungBN #bookmarketing Click To Tweet

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2 Responses to Book Marketing Shots In the Dark: Wacky Ideas that Really Work

  1. Sally Jenkins February 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

    This is not very ‘wacky’ but if I spot someone reading a physical book when I’m out and about (on a train, in a coffee shop etc.) I always give them one of my bookmarks.

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