Books: Some Thoughts on Offline Marketing
Posted March 10, 2011on:
In one of my online discussion groups, someone recently asked what sort of successful offline strategies for book promotion published authors have used. I’ve adapted part of my response for this post and hope that if you are a published author you’ll share one or two of your successful offline strategies for marketing your book.
When you start to develop the offline marketing plan for your book, your first questions should be:
- Who is my audience?
- Where are they likely to look for the kind of book I have written?
How you answer those questions will help determine which offline strategies you might consider. The following suggestions have worked for me as well as for some of my ghostwriting clients who asked for tips on marketing. Of course there are other strategies you can pursue, but these will get you started on developing a marketing plan for your book.
If you are publishing your book through a traditional publisher, the two of you will discuss who does what. (Most authors publish with smaller houses, which assume the author will be responsible for much of the marketing.) Just expect to handle a fair amount of the marketing and promotion yourself, unless you are a celebrity with wide name recognition or your book is so compelling that the big publishing houses are engaged in a frenzied bidding war to land your manuscript. (Compelling? It’s a code word that means “appears poised to make huge sales.”)
If you are self-publishing, then you are the publisher, of course, and in that case will especially want to pick and choose among those strategies that are likely to give you the most return (that is, book sales) for the time and effort invested.
Get all the reviews you can. Work with your publisher to have the book sent around to the most appropriate journals, magazines, digests, newspapers and other publications for review. See if your publisher will actually handle sending the review copies: this is a big job, and if your publisher is willing and already has a database full of contacts, be grateful. (And possibly consider sending your publisher a lovely thank-you note and fabulous flowers or delectable chocolates). If you are really lucky, your publisher will also track and assemble the review clippings, and send copies of them to you. Reviews serve many purposes; one of the most important is to help generate orders from bookstores, book clubs and other outlets.
Get out there and give interviews! Follow up on the press releases and review copies that have already been sent out by contacting local and national magazines, journals, newspapers, and radio and TV stations to set up interviews. Naturally, you’ll want to target those that are appropriate for your book, so when you make your pitch, be sure you know how your book is relevant to the publication’s or show’s audience—in other words, be able to tell them why they should interview you as opposed to another of the many authors who are also trying to snag an interview. Bonus: Since many publications and stations also have a website, your interview just might also appear online in written form or, in some cases, as a podcast.
Some nonfiction books lend themselves beautifully to seminars. If you decide that seminars make sense as part of your promotion strategy, consider structuring the fee to include a copy of your book for each participant.
Would speaking engagements work for your book? Many authors spread the word by speaking to professional associations, special-interest groups, conferences and other organizations. Tip: Ask if they can give your book a plug in their handouts and publicity (don’t assume they’ll just do it; be sure to ask and offer to supply the copy or advertising insert). Also, make sure you always have plenty of books on hand to sell on site; alternatively, you might arrange for a local bookstore to handle sales of your book at the event.
Before and after your book is published, consider writing articles about your book’s subject for relevant magazines, newspapers and journals. If you can manage a column, you’ll derive even more exposure. You might also approach selected publications and pitch excerpts from your book. The point is to get your book and your name in front of your audience, grab their attention, and motivate them to buy a copy. Bonus: Like other authors, you’ll probably find that the experience and the clips will have many future uses.
What about readings and book signings at bookstores, libraries, book clubs and similar venues? Although many writers dreamily imagine reading to large crowds of enraptured fans and signing books for long lines of adoring readers, in reality those events often seem to work best (that is, they produce the most traffic and sales) for well-known/celebrity writers or for topics that attract hordes of readers, no matter who the author is. Test the market for this type of event by talking with your local booksellers and librarians.
Whatever set of strategies you select to incorporate into your marketing plan—good luck!
Now it’s your turn: Have you used any of these strategies to market your book? What worked best for you? What other offline promotion efforts produced book sales for you? Take part in the conversation by leaving comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh LexPower The Write Ideas