Thursday, May 6, 2010

How do you promote?

Like all writers, I'm interested in ways to promote my books. Mine come from a small publisher, so most of my sales are online or word of mouth. Unlike bigger publishers, my books aren't automatically shipped to stores nationwide. Those of us with books from smaller publishers have to work a little harder getting ours in stores. That's not to say those of you with books from larger houses don't work just as hard. I know you do. What are some things you've done to promote them? I'd love to hear some new ideas!

I recently sent out media kits to local stores that might be interested. I did them by mailing, so I will need to follow up. I also have my blog and I'm on Facebook and JacketFlap. Both Dilly and my Critter Series have fanpages on Facebook. I'm kind of playing around with the idea of making a website just for Dilly, but I don't know if that would be worth the time and effort. What do you think? I belong to a homeschool group and have sent information through their email system. A few have said they've passed my information onto others. I'm going to see if any of them have stores in the area that might be interested in carrying my books. I have yet to do any book signings or readings at local schools, but I'm open to that. I've also started hanging up flyers on all the local bulletin boards. I'm not sure if that will do any good, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. All it costs is a piece of paper and a thumbtack. There's a local paper here that accepts free online classified ads, so I have my books listed there. The other day I saw someone on Facebook mention they were signing books at their local farmer's market. Has anyone tried that? I've seen craft-like things at our local markets, but never books. I might have to look into that if it's not too expensive.

Unfortunately, our local libraries won't carry my books because they are not hard cover. They said soft cover books only get checked out 1-2 times before they start falling apart. That's pretty sad, but I guess some kids can be pretty rough. Not much I can do about the library thing, but they do have a bulletin board in the hallway, so I have my flyer there -- right at eye level of a five-year-old! I have business cards and I've also made bookmarks, magnets, and postcards. Some of you have been wonderful helping me promote my books by blogging about them, offering contests, doing author interviews, and stuff like that. A few have even given copies of my books to your kid's schools. I appreciate that so much! I'm always open to doing book reviews for other people's books. If anyone would like to do that with me, just let me know. And finally, to all of you who have even looked at my book covers or read anything I've ever written about them -- thank you!


  1. Have you tried to set up book talks/creative writing courses in the local schools? I have a friend who has marketed that way with a lot of success. Book signings don't go over well, but when you get genuine face time with your prospective readers, they become more interested in buying your work.

  2. Are there any writer's groups you could speak at?

  3. You have been busy with marketing. I agree with GG above getting into schools to talk to and work with children on creative writing. Do the local library allow authors to do readings and sell there, too?

  4. Sounds like you are doing a lot already. I would definitely go to schools and speak. Our local library has a small spot near the front desk where local authors can display and sell their books. I'm guessing they give the money to the librarian and they keep track of the sales (We are a small town). You could do a book signing at the library. Also, have the local paper do a write up about you and your book. I've also seen people sell their books at craft shows.

  5. Rena, looks like you have all the bases covered. I'm offering a free workshop this summer (it's a practice run for me of a workshop I'll be doing at homeschool conferences/curriculum fairs). That is another idea for you too. Be an exhibitor at homeschool conferences/fairs - if your books have educationability. But doing these doesn't always mean sales. It will definitely get your name out there.

    As a homeschooler, you have it harder to get to the schools for speeches/workshops but it is doable. Most of the schools either have funds for guest speakers/authors through their media centers or sometimes the PTO/PTA will pay local authors/speakers to come in and do a workshop as well. The libraries here will compensate the speakers as well. If books are sold, some libraries take a precentage of that for their "friends of the library" or whatever. They are all different.

    I'll be at the "Arts in the Park" event again this August, which I think now is officially just being called "Sunday in the Park" since there are more than just artisans exhibiting. I did pretty good last year with selling three books and the cost was low (other than gas up there, et cetera). The spot rental was like $5.

    Get in touch with your local humanities group and see if they offer things like this where you could get a table for low and be a presenter.

    I also offer things as prizes to get the kids to my table - they have to take a quiz on the United States to win a USA map puzzle or do a maze or guess the state based on the cover - any number of things associated with my books.

    I'm sure I have more ideas rattling around in my head but am not thinking of everything right now. Hit me up via email and we can brainstorm some things - I know with the difference in the areas we live in can make a huge difference (I'm accessible to three states within a 2-hour driving distance or less in some cases - 45 minutes to Georgia border and you are pretty much that far from your nearest big town - lol). Geography really does make a difference in the way we market our books - E :)

  6. Homeschooling conferences and workshops. There are so many fun things to do with your books from foods, letters, phonics, rhyming, careers, animals, science etc...

    Also what about getting your book added to curricula? I don't know anything about that but I know the curricula that I am looking at this year is from a Charlotte Mason approach and has tons of great readers. IMO, I think your books would be neat additions to some of them for younger emerging readers.

    Good Luck!

  7. Wow! Thanks, everyone! Lots of good ideas here. I think we have "Arts in the Park" here too, so I'll look into that. The lady got back to me about the local farmer's market and it's really reasonable. Might be a good way for me to start, and then if it goes okay, I can move to the bigger one in Kalispell.

    Thanks, again! :)

  8. I like your puzzle idea and the freebies, Elysabeth. I think between Dilly's pickles and The Marshmallow Man coming out, I can come up with a few fun giveaways or contests.

  9. :( Can't believe the library won't offer such wonderful stories.

  10. Kim, I can. I donated my first two state stories to branch library in my town and from the looks of them, they have been checked out a good bit. The covers are getting scraggly looking and the books have only been there a year. Most books are hardback but you will come across some paperbacks - mostly given to the library by patrons since they usually only order hardbacks. They will take books geared for adults as paperbacks but children's books get more wear and tear on them and that is why they prefer the hard cover books.

    Rena, have you built a rapport with your local librarian and offered her a copy of your books to be catalogued? It can't hurt but it doesn't get you sales. For me, giving away one copy, leads to readers and hopefully down the line it will lead to more sales because word of mouth - and there will be a day when the books won't be available in the library. Anyway - just a thought. E :)

  11. Rena
    I can send you pen & ink (black & white) drawings of the marshmallow man if you want to use them for coloring contest or what ever else you see fit