Have you ever been totally sidelined by (what should be) a simple sickness?
You know the ones I’m talking about: that cold or flu that just won’t quit! I don’t get sick often, but, over the past week, I’ve been kept offline by the nastiest cold I can remember.
Wanna hear a secret?
Aside from the general ickiness I felt (exacerbated by taking care of my also-sick family)…I kind of liked it.
Even though I’m still having problems tasting food (coffee, I miss you!), I found spending time in the “real world” to be quite refreshing — and it brought to mind an important book marketing lesson.
Does this sound familiar?
After awhile, staring at a computer screen feels…well, exhausting. Especially when you also work on computer during your day job, running home and staring at more pixels quickly causes promotional burnout.
You need a change of pace. But, you still need to get your book in front of new readers. The solution?
Turn off the computer.
I hear you scoffing, but I’m serious! Sure, half of folks buy books online, but that means there’s still a huge offline audience for your work.
And you know those crazy-dedicated fans? Not all of them are hanging out online.
9 Offline Book Promotion Ideas (That Don’t Suck)
The problem with offline book marketing is that many of the ideas feel dated and ineffective. You don’t have time to mess around with boring ideas that don’t pay off, so a little creativity is in order.
1. Create Bookmarks
Want an offline promotional tool that keeps working long after you’ve left the scene? Enter the humble bookmark.
Bookmarks are like business cards for authors, only far more useful (and totally cost effective). A set of 250 2″ x 6″ bookmarks costs less than $20 to be printed, allowing you to leave a piece of yourself in:
Books you sell (so your new fans can give them away to friends who might also like your work)
Books you donate (more ideas on that later!)
Other books similar to yours that you borrow, donate or give away
Include your book cover, logline-style pitch and (most importantly) a link to your website!
2. Pitch Your Story to a Local Paper
Press releases aren’t the only way to grab your local newspaper’s attention. Being featured in your paper earns you exposure to thousands of new readers — but your story will only be picked up if your pitch is enticing and relevant to local readers.
While pitching locally gives you an instant angle (you’re a local author!), this isn’t attractive enough on its own to earn you a story.
To increase your chances, give your pitch a little something extra. Reporters need to know why your publishing story is special, how your book breaks new ground or what insider information you can offer readers.
3. Host a Book Exchange
Avid readers are eager to seek out new authors and new books. Help them out by hosting a book exchange!
Invite your friends (and their friends) over to your place for an evening of book-sharing awesomeness. This is a perfect opportunity to get your book into new hands!
4. Join (or Form) a Local Authors Group
When you’re stuck, an outside perspective works wonders! Chatting with other authors is an awesome opportunity for brainstorming (and commiserating) with others who know exactly how you feel.
Check Meetup to see if there’s a local writing or author group in your area. If there’s not one, make one! Once a month, get together for coffee, chats and brainstorming. You can even consider hosting a group book signing!
5. Get Friendly with Bookstore Owners
While the manager at a chain bookstore (like Barnes and Noble) might not be super-eager to hear from you, small or independent bookstores are staffed with book lovers who usually enjoy meeting local authors.
Find a store with a vibe that matches your personality and become friends with the owner and staff. They might just invite you in for a book signing or feature your book in the store!
6. Donate Your Book
Aside from your local library, anywhere folks spend time sitting and waiting is a great candidate for a book donation.
Libraries, doctors office, and salons are prime locations to share your book (with a few bookmarks tucked inside, of course). Those long waits are sure to snare new readers!
7. Make a Flyer
Awaken memories of that teenage babysitting business and post flyers for your book at your favorite local businesses.
The trick to using this old-school technique effectively is to make your flyers attention-grabbing and attention-keeping. Create a large, enticing headline, reel in readers with a cliffhanger summary and short, memorable URL for purchase.
Tip: Use bit.ly to create a custom URL that points to your website.
8. Have an Answer to “What Are You Up To?”
How many times do you run into folks at the grocery store you haven’t seen in awhile? Dreading that awkward “so…what are you up to?” conversation? (Seriously, that’s one of the reasons I shop at 7am when everyone with sense is still asleep!)
Turn this dicey situation around by sharing your excitement about your book. Just a simple “Oh! I recently published a book” opens the doors to an enticing conversation — and a potential new reader!
9. Read Your Book in Public
Do you notice what people around you are reading in public? Whenever I’m in a waiting room, I can’t help but sneak a peek at the books in the hands of others.
Take advantage of these opportunities to read your own book. If you have an eye-catching cover or intriguing title, someone might strike up a conversation — or make a mental note to research it on their smartphone!
Tip: If anyone asks why in the world you’re reading your own book, you can always say you’re working on your next book and need some inspiration.
What do you think?
Which offline promotions have worked well for you? Do you have tips for other authors looking to close the laptop? Let’s chat in the comments [on the original post]!