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Book Marketing Shots In The Dark

Book Marketing Shots in the Dark

Photo of sculpture

This unusual sculpture not only inspired a book but also triggered a bonus marketing opportunity – see Russell Phillips’ report below

At the end of each month, we share unusual book promotion ideas contributed by ALLi author members who are adopting creative tactics to market their self-published books.

Unusual Outlets

Bookstores are not the only shops that sell books, as the following round-up confirms:

  • Obviously, as we all know, it’s really hard getting books into bookshops, but I have been trying other businesses. A lovely dress shop in Shoreham, Apres Chocolat‬, is selling Who’d Have Thought It? very successfully,  mostly because the owner and her staff loved it. Also Sh!,the wonderful women’s sex shop and emporium in Hoxton,  is selling it, and we are going to do an event there on dating in mid-life. I have also got Southwold Summer Theatre selling it, mostly because they’re mentioned in the novel.  – Christine Webber
  • I’ve put bookmarks in a few local cafes. – Maggie Christensen
  • I have mine on sale at a local art gallery. I rely on people being intimidated into buying something, and £8.99 is a lot less than the price of the art. – Jane Davis
  • My local ‘gift and all sorts of lovelinesses’ shop stocks my books and actively promote them too. – Anne Stormont
  • My historical novel based on a real journal of a Michigan pioneer woman is sold in two local museums in her area. I hope for more! – Cindy Rinaman Marsch

Win-Win Projects

British author Russell Phillips describes an interesting marketing opportunity that came about almost by by chance – or perhaps you’d call it karma:

Cover of A Ray of Light by Russell PhillipsMy latest book was inspired by a public art sculpture.

The story it tells was largely forgotten in Britain, and particularly North Staffordshire, but it’s something that local people should be very proud of. During World War II, local miners raised £32,000 (over £1million in today’s money) to pay for a village to be rebuilt after it was utterly destroyed in Nazi reprisals. They even destroyed maps showing the village. Literally nothing was left after they’d finished.

The sculpture was part of an effort to raise awareness of the story. It’s covered in tags, and to get a tag, you had to promise to tell the story to at least two other people. The artists were Nicola Winstanley and Sarah Nadin.

Photo of Russell Phillips' tag

Russell Phillips’ tag

I kept in touch with the artists, and they recently contacted me to ask if I’d like to have something in their latest project, “Looky Bags“. They have funding to start it, so for this first one, a City of Culture special, will have 4,000 copies printed, and it’s free for both adverts and features.

Maybe there’s a lesson here in getting to know other local creative types!

OVER TO YOU Have you found sales success in an unexpected outlet? Have you embarked on a joint venture with a surprising partner? If so, we’d love to hear about it!

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Debbie Young

Debbie Young writes warm, funny feel-good fiction, including the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which begins with the bestselling "Best Murder in Show". As ALLi's Author Advice Center Manager, she also writes guidebooks for authors. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, she is a frequent speaker at other literary events. Find out more about Debbie's writing life on her author website www.authordebbieyoung.com.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Your view of Waterstone branch independence does not marry with my experience. A few months ago Pauline and Michael Black from Eastbourne published a paperback “Shakespeare Unravelled. Court plays: the 1623 deception.”

    Despite the book receiving local media coverage in the Eastbourne and Hastings/Bexhill area the local Waterstones claimed they were unable to stock the book without head office approval: despite considerable local interest and excellent reviews. We have yet to receive a response from head office to our book submission request.

  2. I have a children’s time travel which takes place in and out of a living history museum, the type with costumed workers acting the part of pioneers. It’s stocked in our local one, Conner Prairie, and a few others in Ohio, but as Book 2 comes out, I need to get serious about sending it to others.

  3. I have a series set in the present where a Virginia foxhunter crosses into an elven otherworld and ends up as huntsman for the Wild Hunt. The tack shops in heavily foxhunting Virginia are delighted to stock it.

    1. Sounds like a lovely series! I read the “Look Inside” part of the first one and it’s on my wish list now – largely because while I’m interested in the premise, I LOVE a book that gets the horse stuff done right!

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