Here’s a SHOUT OUT to an author friend who learned how to maximize promotion for her book “in her own back yard” so to speak. Good job, Cathy!
Can Mini-Marketing Move Mountains?
Guest Blog Cathy D. Dudley, Author of TODDLER THEOLOGY - Childlike Faith for Everyone
I've only written one book. Getting it into readers’ hands seemed impossible, like trying to move a mountain. But since I self-published my book in 2012, I’ve learned there are many little things you can do in marketing, promoting and selling your book. It’s a journey with no end, however. Ask God's help. You’re going to need it.
I took my first small step in 2012 by boldly asking our two local newspapers to announce the publication of my book. Both interviews were extremely complimentary. As a result, a nearby community church invited me to come and speak. I was also welcomed to bring copies of Toddler Theology for a book signing afterward. All of this was encouraging … but scary too. It was my first exciting step toward moving that marketing mountain.
You need to know before you write who the target audience is for your book. I wrote a Christian book for children and their families, so I’m constantly looklng for opportunities to invite myself to speak at churches, preschools, Christian academies, and civic organizations. Once a date is set, I tweak the presentation for that group. Payment hasn't been important—getting my books out where people can read them is. The exposure and book signings are their own priceless reward.
For visibility, I approached “mom and pop stores” in our area to take a half-dozen or so copies on consignment with flexible discount percentages and display them. I’m 68 and have known most of the store owners for years. I go in person, optimistically, books in hand. Eventually, I made arrangements with seven stores … some outside my immediate area. These are not the big brick-and-mortar name bookstores, but I'm thankful to God for them all and for the gracious way I have been received.
I needed persistence. The person with whom I wanted to talk may not have been available. Sometimes I didn't get a return call. I don't take this sort of thing personally. In a week or two, I try again. I have to understand that people are busy and reaching out to a stranger isn’t one of their priorities.
Book signings are a delightful way to market your book in cooperation with your mom and pop stores. I bought a small portable table, made an attractive poster ( Staples can help with this ), and put out a stack of my books with one open on an easel. I'm ready to meet and greet folks as they come and go. I make eye contact and tell them I'm a local author. I ask if they’ve got a minute to take a look at my book. I provide an email sign-up sheet for my website. I have had book signings at Barnes and Noble and several other book stores which don’t even carry my book. The key is to ask!
Social media is a critical strategy in this marketing journey. To have a Facebook page is definitely helpful for publicity about book signings and posts about your book activities. Some authors also use Instagram, twitter, or pinterest. Be careful not to get overwhelmed. One or two social media options done well is the main principle.
Author business cards are a must. Keep them handy in your wallet, and put them on your table at book signings. You want people to have your contact information. Advocate for yourself by adding a descriptive line under your name in emails. Use your Facebook page or your website or both.
You need an author website even if you've only written one book. Professional expertise was necessary for me because I'm not technically inclined. A website is an excellent marketing tool giving the viewer the opportunity to stay connected by subscribing. Keep it simple. Make color, font, and image choices that best reflect who you are and what you want to say.
Vendor tables are another step in mini-marketing. Whether it’s at a Spring Fling, a Fall Festival, or a Christmas Bazaar, etc., you need to be there with your books. If there's a fee to rent space, double up with an author friend. Smile when you chat with passersby. Don’t be shy. You never know where a conversation may lead. Someone I met at an event introduced me to the director of a local morning TV show. I was scheduled for an interview! But better wear your thick skin too; at events some people completely ignore you.
When you travel, tuck a few of your books in your luggage. Who knows who you might meet? A mere brief encounter may establish an important connection. I’ve also given copies of my book to friends who have taken them to other states and locations around the world. You’re always forming relationships in this marketing process. Some of these may seem accidental, but you know God put them in your path because the timing is perfect.
Other relationships should be intentional. Join a writers’ group that meets regularly. I’m a member of the Roanoke Valley (Virginia) Christian Writers. The Alliance for Independent Authors has a member forum on Facebook. Such associations put you in touch with other authors and their various experiences, with inspiring speakers and the opportunity to ask questions and share what you’ve learned. Participation in the goodreads.com giveaway has also provided exposure.
A word of caution. Marketing your book can become an all-consuming passion. Don’t forget your spouse, your children, and your extended family need your time too. Yes, there’s always one more thing you could do. But marketing isn’t all up to me. If God gave me the inspiration to write, He will see that my book reaches the places and people He intends. Balance is the recipe for joy in both your marketing and your private life.
Mini-marketing may seem slow, but the mountain has moved! My book wasn't written to be a NY Times bestseller but to bless the readers in the circle of my life—and beyond, if God wills. Toddler Theology is now in the hands of many readers. Praise Him! May I be open to what He brings me tomorrow.
Blessings to You! Cathy