As a first-time author of two children’s books, God is with Me through the Day and God is with Me through the Night, I was surprised to discover that the most challenging part of the journey was marketing.
I had worked as a marketing writer for years; but marketing my own work was…well…icky. As a friend put it: “It’s a bit like standing in front of the mirror with a stranger and asking them to say nice things about you.”
Despite my reluctance, I was grateful to experience many successful book signings after the launch of my children’s books. When I sold more than 100 books at several signings, the bookstore managers were amazed. They couldn’t believe I was having such strong turnouts as a first-time author.
One Barnes & Noble community resource manager hit the nail on the head when he said he’d never had an author market the event as much as I had. That behind-the-scenes work was responsible for the second-largest signing of his career.
When planning your next author event, keep these tips in mind:
1. Your biggest ally is word-of-mouth. Reach out to anyone you know in a community and ask them to invite friends, family, neighbors, church members, school peers, etc. You’d be surprised how interested folks become when they have a personal connection to the author.
2. Send out press releases to local media outlets. Look for television news programs and radio shows that routinely support local events. Contact regional magazines, and reach out to the newspapers for a book review and/or author interview.
3. Post the event on all community calendars, since many media outlets will share the event both online and in print.
4. Contact local churches to invite their church community to join you. You can also offer to visit the church for a personal author event. Some churches have been extremely kind and generous to me by promoting the event in their Sunday Bulletin or weekly newsletter.
5. Use the Internet to locate your target audience and reach out to them via email, direct mail, phone calls, or – of course – word of mouth. Depending on your book, you may want to contact veterans groups, healthcare workers, mothers groups, or schools.
6. Use key social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, iGoogle, and a personal blog to boost interest in your books. Also consider pitching high-traffic blogsites to serve as a guest blogger.
7. Don’t be shy. When you’re at the event, engage attendees in conversation. Remember, humor is key. Get people laughing and they’ll want to hear more. Marketing does take time, but the extra hours pay off in most cases.
Now that my first novel, Into the Free, will hit shelves in February, I plan to use these strategies again when planning my upcoming book tour. How do you help ensure your book signing will be a success? Do you provide free giveaways? Tagalong with a larger event? Mail postcards prior to the big day? We invite you to share your ideas to help all of us make the most of our time on the road.
Happy book signing!