Beyond Boring Bookmarks

bookmarksThere’s no way around it anymore. A writer has to market. You can flail your arms and scream like a little girl all you want, but other than scoring yourself some raised eyebrows or possibly a straitjacket, you will need to market your writing. Allow me to teach you the three most important words I taught my children. No, it’s not “please” and “thank you”…it’s “Get over it!”

Now that we’re past the lecture, let’s move on with some ideas to get your book out there that don’t involve the standard lukewarm fare of Twitter and Facebook. Not that I have anything against social media, mind you. It’s just that all the authorly Who’s from Whoville are already there, shouting their little lungs out.

Create a “Night Out” Event

This is a great way to cross-promote local businesses and your book. Look for small restaurants, clothing stores, kitchen gadget shops, whatever you can possibly tie into your book. Approach them with an idea to have a Women’s Night Out or Man Cave Night wherein you’ll offer to do a reading, or demonstration, or if you’re really confident, to be the chump in a rousing round of Stump the Chump for cheap little prizes.

Meet-Up Groups

Locate some meet-up groups in your area that might be interested in your book. Does your story have a sweet little dog as a character? Find a dog walking group. In my recent release, A HEART DECEIVED, I talk about the cook’s fantastic marmalade, so I’d go for a cooking group. Offer to speak to those groups for free (with a handy dandy book table at the back for afterwards). Need help finding a group? Meetup is the place for you.

Direct Marketing

Unless you live in Podunksville, USA, you’ve probably got a local company that ships products directly to customers. Ask if you can place postcards advertising your book in with their shipments. Obviously, if your novel is a romance, you probably don’t want a card going out with an order of hedgehog vitamins (not even kidding…check this out). Make it related in some way.

Sales Parties

Yes, Tupperware ladies are still around, but they’re not the only ones who do in-home parties. Pitch an offer to some reps to come along to one of their shows and do a short reading as an icebreaker. Sales people frequently love opening a conversation with potential buyers by talking about a novel instead of trying to do an immediate hard sell. It gets your name out there, and more importantly, gets people talking about your book.

BOGOMy latest scheme involves offering a BOGO (Buy One Get One) for my recent release. Since my book is set in England, I used the Keep Calm-o-Matic site to create my own poster. For one weekend, July 12-14, I’m offering to mail a signed copy to anyone who can show me a receipt for a book they’ve purchased. Details here.

Remember: the goal of promoting your work is to entice people to buy. Whapping them upside the head with BUY ME, BUY ME not only isn’t going to work, it’s going to annoy potential buyers to swerve way around your train wreck of a marketing ploy.

After all, one can own only so many bookmarks before the recycle bin is filled to the brim.

Ten Sources to Spur Promotion Ideas

Promoting Artists
Concert Promoters Get Creative

Authors are expected to do much of their own marketing. Been there, heard that — you can keep the tee-shirt.

So what’s a writer with little or no marketing experience to do? Research.

And get started early. Though my first book is almost a year from publication, I’m working on a Promotion Plan now. Naturally a strategic thinker, I’m thinking ahead. (If you haven’t yet sold a project, this is prime brainstorming season.)

In a previous job, I worked sales and marketing for a clothing manufacturer, where my biggest account was Nike. They are marketing masters.

A minimum of eighteen months out, they plan the launch for any new apparel line. Nike knows the investment in time and energy pays back with interest. They study competitors. Survey customers. Review totally unrelated products. And sometimes, try things that fail.

But in the thinking stage, they don’t toss any crazy idea.

As a new author, I don’t have a mega-marketing budget like Nike. But their basic principles work with two hundred dollars like they do with two million. If you’d like to peek at some of their aggressive 2013 marketing strategies, click here.

Taking what I learned from past experience, here are ten sources I’m using to brainstorm a unique Book Promotion Plan:

1. Read creative thinking books. Some of my current faves are: The $100 Startup, The Four-Hour Work Week, The Power of Full Engagement, The Well-Fed Writer, Red Hot Internet Publicity, The Wealthy FreelancerPlatform, and Shameless Self-Promotion and Networking for Christian Creatives.


2. Hunt for colorful partnering alternatives in the everyday. Look around you with fresh eyes. Is there a marketing marriage in the making?


Spur Book Promotion Ideas
Creative Ideas Under Your Nose

3. Study other author websites for promotional ideas. In the following examples, it’s the concept, not necessarily the content, that interests me:

4. Observe projects, organizations, or businesses of different styles, to spark unique promotional ideas. i.e. Concerts, chambers of commerce, beauty salons, amusement parks, hardware stores, talent shows, and more, are marketing fodder.


Promotional Ideas at Salons
Observe what Different Businesses Do

5. Create a line of products to complement the book’s message. Brand image magnifies with diversity — and promotional products spread your message further.


6. Target different personality types, genders, ages, and regions to reach a wider audience. Never discount a potential demographic in the brainstorming phase.


7. Ask for ideas. Get your brave on. Ask the checkout person, waitress, plumber, even employees of places you visit on vacation. They may offer fresh perspectives. But don’t fail to tap into your professional networks as well.


Adventure Sports Spur Creativity
Riding Dolphins Promotes Adventure

8. Help others with pure motives. I believe we get what we honestly give.


9. Stay true to the title. I use this as an editing tool, but it works well with brand marketing also.


10. Consult the Master Platform-Builder. God constructs the sturdiest and sometimes strangest ways to display our messages. Trust Him to know the end in your beginning.

What spurs your book promotion ideas?

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