Once each month, we share fun tips from ALLi author members on unusual ways to market your self-published books.
With a Little Help from Furry Friends
Children's author Karen Inglis writes:
I could hardly contain my excitement when I heard that a gorilla had escaped at London Zoo in early October (and that, thankfully, the situation was “under control”)! Why? Because this presented a wonderful shot-in-the-dark-marketing opportunity for my illustrated children’s chapter book Henry Haynes and the Great Escape in which Gordon, a smelly gorilla, masterminds a zoo escape in which young Henry becomes an unwilling helper.
Luckily I was at my desk, so was quickly able to fashion a few tweets and screenshots that made use of the already trending #zooescape #gorillaescape and #LondonZoo hashtags. Of course the tweet provided a neat link to my Amazon book pages using a fun customised short link.
So far so good — until I discovered that during those very few hours there was a bug on Amazon’s systems that meant that the book cover for Henry Haynes and several of my other books were missing from both the UK and US sites!. So much for good fortune!
Putting the missing book covers to one side, I can’t say my tweets resulted in any more sales but it cost me nothing and I am sure has raised awareness of the story with people following those hashtags those days. And, as they say, it takes seven views of a product before buyers take the bait, so I didn't feel too disheartened. And this is a story that I can retell and re-use for awareness campaigns (like this!) going forward. So on the note of shots in the dark I’ve just made a video about the book – available on YouTube here. (Do give it a “thumbs-up” on YouTube if you enjoy it!)
English children's author Sue Wickstead writes:
Over the last year it has been good to be able to leave a copy of my children's story book in each school I visit on supply. I have visited a lot of schools in Sussex and Surrey. The schools are always glad to have a copy, and at least I can tell the children there is a copy in the school somewhere. The last two schools visited have been to ones already with the book. (What a surprise!)
- School 1: Was that a copy of my book on display in the classroom? As I introduced my self, I could see the boy reading the book doing a double-take!
- School 2: As I got my book out of my bag to read to the class, they excitedly told me that their teacher had read that book to them some time ago. Nice to know!
Crime writer writer J J Franklin reports:
I invited folk to enter a competition to have their name in my next book by filling in a slip with their name and email and putting in a tin. I started this at my book launch for Echoes of Justice in Waterstones in Stratford-upon-Avon and a few other places. The competition was to have their name in my third book in the DI Matt Turrell series, of which the working title is Moment of Death.
Scottish crime writer Wendy Jones reports:
Today's strange promotion opportunity: I'm writing in The British Library in London today. I brought along a copy of Killer's Cut for legal deposit as the one I had mailed had gone missing in the post. The two women behind the information desk said they loved the look of the book. Could they read it before it went in to legal deposit. My response? -“Feel free.” I left them excitedly discussing the book in full view of everyone else. Two new fans!
OVER TO YOU If you have had wacky marketing successes that you'd like to share with us on a future post in this series, and you're an ALLi member, mail them to blog editor Debbie Young citing your ALLi membership number. If not, you can still share your stories by leaving a comment.
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