It’s more challenging now than ever before for authors, indie authors especially, to break into national media. The competition is greater. And the news cycle is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. But marketing on a local level is becoming increasingly effective.
And while local book marketing shouldn’t be your entire strategy (as a matter of fact, nothing should be your entire strategy), you should definitely devote a good chunk of your time to your local market and your local media.
In other words, don’t neglect the resources in your area, while you’re out there building your brand, optimizing Amazon, posting on social media, and building relationships with your super fans. In fact, by adding a local emphasis, you’ll become a hometown favorite that everyone wants to follow.
Know Your Reader
Since you are local, you may already know some of your target readers by name. But you’ll also need to think about their habits and where they hang out. Where do they shop? What activities do they like? Are there social groups they’re part of?
As you start to fill in the blanks, make lists. Why? Because some of those places might offer great opportunities for some really creative author events. And if there are probably some great ways to get involved in local groups or activities.
Even better, there’s probably a story there! Reach out to the local media to help shine a spotlight on your events, but also any causes you decide to join.
Events and Activities are Golden
We have looked at where your target reader spends time. Now, take it a step further and consider which local and regional events, organizations, or businesses cater to your target reader and their interests.
How? Well you can start with the local events calendar of your newspaper.
Other great resources are local media websites dedicated to events happening around town, especially if you live in a popular tourist area.
And don’t forget about events listed on Facebook. Facebook remains a popular hub for finding local events and activities.
Be sure you’re checking for events coming up next month and beyond, because most start organizing and booking months or at least weeks in advance, so you want to show interest as early as possible.
Now that you have a list of events and activities that compliment your goals as an author, start using it. Reach out to the businesses. Explain who you are and what you do. Immerse yourself (and your book) into your community.
Now, build a list of local and regional media that covers local businesses, artists and lifestyle & entertainment topics. And put in some time to research each, and how they like to be pitched story ideas.
Then make contact! Follow their rules. Pitch yourself in a way that makes you stand out.
Because, just having written a book isn’t newsworthy. So focus on finding an angle that sets you and your book apart from the rest. By being involved in the community, you’ll find that you have lots of great angles to work with.
Be a Social Butterfly
Beyond getting involved, it’s really time to start planning your own events. Refer back to your list of places where your reader hangs out, and then build outward from it and create a list of potential venues for an author event.
Places like bookstores that do indie author events all the time are a go-to. And, while you should definitely reach out to them, you should also be thinking outside the box. You’ll surprise yourself with how receptive non-bookstore venues can be, and how much easier they are to get into.
Maybe your readers frequent a local brewery or wine bar? Visit a coffee shop that does live music. Find a venue that is well versed in planning and hosting events. Contact your local YMCA, if you have a book that interests parents and children. And don’t forget libraries!
Do Some Competitive Book Marketing Research
If you don’t already have a short list of other indie authors who write in your genre, you should. And these folks shouldn’t be household names, but instead people who are at a similar level to you, or maybe just a rung above. But, they should definitely still be hungry for success and working hard for it.
Why? For one, you want to make sure your book stacks up in terms of content and presentation.
But also, you’ll want to see what they are doing for book marketing strategies. Get ideas for events, activities, and promotions they’re sharing with their fans. Then find some inspiration!
The bottom line here is that you need to switch some of your focus to a local level.
Big coverage can be great, although surprisingly, it doesn’t always result in a sales spike or social media follows. And more importantly, media and opportunities build on themselves, meaning you need to put in the time and effort to get there. And very few indie authors get to skip those steps.
So put effort into building a local base, plan local events, and drum up local support. Then grow it into regional interest. Build your following as you continue to publish books and you’ll soon find that national coverage won’t seem so out of reach.
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.