Tips for Marketing and Selling Books Any Time of the Year

Marketing FocusInk & Paper Group — Sep 12, 2008

by Lake Boggan

Make a big splash with local newspaper articles and radio/TV interviews. Arrange these interviews yourself by sending an e-mail press release to newsrooms, and then follow-up with a cover letter and a review copy of your book. Become a media junkie and plug yourself–as well as your book–with your press release:

  • To broadcast that you are someone who can provide content and background for a breaking news story
  • To release new data on a controversial issue, current piece of legislation, or similar trendy concern to the public and your community
  • To respond to a recent shocking development on the national stage and offer your expert opinion, reaction, or position on how it affects your region by naming you and your book as the expert on the subject
  • To expose a new angle to a current issue–the media of the day says one thing and your book has a substantially important spin
  • To announce a newsworthy event related to your book and to invite the press to offer a more interesting or controversial look
  • To show a local perspective on a national issue, including your quotes that set the record straight because the research in your book can prove it

Books don’t sell themselves; people sell books. Be sure to make friends of booksellers. If they like you, they are going to tell customers about your book.

  • Carry a copy of your book with you at all times. Arrive ahead of the scheduled time, and MINGLE and INTERACT. Do not sit at a table and stare at the empty room. Tell customers who you are and invite them to hear you talk.
  • When your event begins, get to the point. Speak loudly, and with energy and enthusiasm. You are now a public speaker. Leave that introverted writer at home and become a whimsical entertainer. Don’t leave anything to chance. Script an introduction for the bookstore to introduce you and your book.
  • Conduct yourself in the bookstore like a gracious guest. BE HELPFUL! Clean up your mess.
    Create and use collateral and support materials for your events like bookmarks, postcards, invitations, posters, and all the good take-away stuff that can help make a sale after the event.
  • Support your own events by inviting friends and family. It’s just like an election; go to your base for support.
  • When you get events, do media-related, tie-in interviews, or get listed in event calendars, newsletters, and anything you can to support the event for the store.
  • Don’t complain when only a few attendees show up, and don’t apologize for a low turnout. Treat the few who are there very well. They will tell many other potential readers how wonderful you are. Authors are celebrities in everyone’s mind–even today. Get their addresses, send them thank you notes, and they will remember you forever.
  • Always have a signup sheet for e-mail and addresses so you can create a fan base for your next book.
  • Think about non-bookstore events and venues. Grocery stores, hotel lobbies, corporate meetings, schools, and other nontraditional book places are options for future events and ways to sell books.