Small Pond, Big Splash

Make a Splash!

On my recent mini book tour, I discovered how easy it is to create major buzz in a small geographical pocket.  Since Phoenix has 1 ½ million residents, I haven’t made much of a local splash for all my marketing efforts. Call me a city girl, but you can imagine how thrilled I was to create major splash in several small communities?

I chose a small Ohio town (the setting of my novel) and an Indiana Mennonite community because my characters are, yes, Mennonite. In twelve short days, I connected with hundreds of people who started a local buzz about my books. I did my part, and the rest just happened.

Imagine hundreds of rocks simultaneously tossed into water. The ripples intersect and make a major splash. The same disturbance would go unnoticed in the ocean, but is visible in a pond.

Helpful Tips for a Mini Book Tour

Establish a relationship with local influencers. They work hard on your behalf. Influencers booked my speaking engagement, organized book signings, and blogged and promoted my events. They placed newspaper notifications for me. See what I mean about easy?

Keep costs down. If you need to buy books, don’t over purchase (like I did) unless you wish to haul them around. I left unsold books with influencers. I did cover half of my expenses, and I’m sure I can do better next time.

Book at least one paid speaking event. My event had 200 + guests. I sold 40 books and gave free handouts with my contact information. It was a bonus when a newspaper reporter covered the event.

Take a guestbook to your events. I didn’t, but I will next time! A guestbook would provide a relaxing way to get name spellings, information, and jot notes for later—all while making pleasant conversation with readers. I frantically jotted notes that got shoved into my purse. Not very professional.

Attend local events, even if it’s not your event. When a book tour is the reason for your visit to a community, the topic naturally accompanies personal introductions.

Giveaways. Offering free bookmarks opens conversations with people who wouldn’t otherwise make eye contact. Book giveaways are both promo and ministry. Trust God with your offerings.

Get prayer support. I would have remained fearful and frazzled without my prayer support team. Thanks guys!

Take your vitamins. Even good stress is hard on the immune system, and I ended up going to Urgent Care two days upon my return. (Probably because I was an introvert on overload)

Benefits and Blessings

          Meeting local authors

          Opportunity to sign shelved books in local bookstores and gift shops.

–          Networking – (Got featured in summer reading group. They approached me!)

–          Media/newspaper coverage

          Unexpected opportunities – Books placed in church and school libraries

          Purchasing items for future promo.  Of course I bought a handcrafted Amish doll.

          Photographing opportunities for website, blog, and promo use

–          Research for blogging topics

          Gleaning new information about the book industry

–          Ministry – planting spiritual seeds and encouraging readers

–          Personal growth

 

Who are your influencers? Are you building relationships with them? Do you implement the small pond, big splash method for marketing your books?

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How to Plan a Successful Book Signing

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!

Julie