Online book promotion is a great way to stay competitive and help your book reach a wider audience. But what shouldn’t be overlooked is smart local promotion. When it comes to marketing, very little can be counted on as a sure thing so the more control you have over the variable, the better. Where else do you have significant control than your immediate area!
With that in mind, here are some local book promotion strategies that any author can put to use:
1. Get stickers made right away.
The goal with online book promotion is to send people back to your website or your Amazon page, right? Well you have to use the same motivation for your local promotion as well.
Get professional stickers made with your author name, website, branded link to Amazon, and a short message, and be sure they’re added to the inside front cover of any books you plan to use locally.
2. Make it easy for readers to follow up.
At minimum you’ll want the short message on the sticker to remind people to review. But you can take it a step further with a short list of ways local readers can support you!
I encourage you to read through this list I created previously, because it’s a fantastic, evergreen resource for soliciting support from readers in general, but it’s really helpful for those in your community.
3. Use Little Free Libraries as part of your local book promotion.
Most of us have seen these while driving through neighborhoods or outside our local YMCA I think, but those who aren’t familiar, Little Free Library (LFL) explains their model like this: A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share.
Some Little Free Library locations are registered through their website, but not all of them, so while I’d encourage you to definitely donate books to the registered ones, keep extras in your car (ready with branded stickers) for when you come across an unregistered one or one that’s simply been created for a neighborhood and not through the LFL program.
4. Tap into your local network.
Think about all the places you frequent, your salon or barber, do you get coffee at the same place multiple times per week?
Most of us are creatures of habit to some degree, and we forget how many people in our local community likely recognize us, and in turn, would be happy to support our work.
Always have a book or two at the ready and start asking your favorite places if they’d be willing to keep one out for others to peruse or borrow.
5. Consider schools and other youth/family organizations.
If your book is a good fit for children or families considering donating some to schools, to childcare centers, Boys and Girls Clubs or the local YMCA.
6. Support your local military.
If you live in an area with a military population contact the local Chaplain’s office and let them know you’re a local author, the genre you write in, and ask if they can give you any guidance on how you can possibly donate books to be shared on base or for the next deployment.
Another way to support your local military is by taking copies to the VA or other retirement homes, because remember, not only are you reaching residents, you’re reaching staff and family members as well.
7. Help people at local hospitals.
Hospitals can be bleak for a lot of people, and many are often there longer than they plan to be.
Contact someone in administration, introduce yourself, let them know what you write and how you’d like to help, and see if they’d be willing to let you provide copies of your book as a resource, or chance to escape for a bit as people recover or for families logging in long visiting hours.
8. Contact local book clubs and Meetups.
Get on Facebook Groups or search Facebook Local Events for book clubs and if you can, find some that seem to fit your genre or topic definitely send them a friendly message as a local author and offer to donate some books for their group or even do a personalized author event!
Meetups are another great source when you’re local, some books clubs use Meetup to organize events but it’s also a popular site for topic-specific groups to find like-minded individuals. This is especially useful if you’re a non-fiction author, and a great resource for finding people in your community you can help out while building your author event and workshop resume.
9. Remember, it’s about getting books in hands.
I’ve written about local book promotion before, specifically about getting local media attention, but I also want to encourage you to balance out your efforts with the above strategies that really ensure you’re getting books in hands.
Smart book promotion means supporting your author brand through a variety of efforts that complement each other, so that means online promotion, media pitching, event pitching, utilizing social, and also hitting the streets to physically get books in the hands of people in your community, the people who are most inclined to support you.
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 and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.