What’s a surefire way to promote a book? Every author deals with that question. Most authors I know don’t have a publicist advising or directing them, and their marketing budget comes from their pocket. Social Media? Facebook ads? Go for the reviews? Set up a stand on Main Street?
As a newbie author, I struggled to find the best promotion strategy for me and my books. Writing the best book I could write was the most important, of course. Participating in critique groups and contests insured that each book in my series improved on the last. However, while reviews were great, sales were low.
It wasn’t until I joined forces with local authors and tried a few different venues that I found what fit my audience, my personality, and my budget. To my surprise, face-to-face contact with my readers was the answer for me. I say surprise because I’m an introvert—you know the grade school “brain,” the high school “class nerd.” But put me around people who love to read heartwarming romance or a good mystery, and I glow with excitement! They forgive my stammering, and I’m all too happy to answer questions about my writing process, where the ideas come from, and how I get to know my characters. Soon we laugh together, they pick up a book, and there’s a sale.
I should say that I write two series, both set in the area where I live, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Last year was my fourth year of book promotion, and it was the most successful yet. Three face-to-face events were stand outs, and I offer them as examples to get you thinking outside the box.
First was an arts festival on the shores of one of the lakes. Four of us shared a tent and took turns drawing in the passers-by. Over the two days of the festival, I sold out of my first mystery and had modest sales of my romance series. And I learned that having a presence is not just about sales. During the show the advertising director for a local winery approached the tent, looking for Finger Lakes authors for a fall harvest event at her winery to benefit the county animal shelter. Two of us held up our hands.
That fall winery event put us in the company of five authors who live in and set our books in the Finger Lakes, plus a fabulous best-selling author who penned a trilogy set at a fictional Finger Lakes winery. In the course of three hours, I sold out of romance books, sold one copy of my mystery, and enjoyed conversation with many readers from the area.
In between those events, I got up the courage to have a book party for my first mystery, as a pre-event for my high school reunion. My hometown library was excited to host and promote the event, and the reunion committee agreed to spread the word. We scheduled it for late Friday afternoon, hoping to catch classmates as they rolled into town, as well as community members looking for a good summer read. I’d been nervous about doing a solo event, but I wasn’t doing it alone. The librarian and my friends were eager to participate. Dozens of people came. And, yes, I sold books.
Bottom line, as a marketing strategy, face-to-face contact through local venues and libraries have worked best for me. I’ll continue using Facebook and making appearances on book blogs, because those are wonderful ways to stay in touch with readers and to meet new ones. And I’ll listen to what other authors are trying and what they recommend. We’re all learning from each other.
What’s next? Five of us have a “Meet Your Local Authors” event this Monday at our local library, hosted by our community writers group. Each of us is inviting the world. Three are coming early to set up. Another, a fabulous graphic artist, has made posters and table cards for us. The librarian is promoting up a storm. I’m organizing us and bringing the cookies. We’ll have a grand time and sell some books.
Do you enjoy local events for buying and selling books? Why? What suggestions do you have for authors at festivals, libraries, and business venues? Please leave a comment!
About the Author
C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY.
Book Two in The Penningtons Investigate
Murder never entered the picture until Fritz Van Derzee decided, at long last, to clear his name. Who stuck a jeweled stiletto into his desktop after stabbing him to death? Fritz’s daughter, Emma, recruits her former professor Lyssa Pennington to find the killer.
And where’s the ten million Fritz was falsely accused of embezzling? Tompkins College President, Justin Cushman, hires his old friend Kyle Pennington to trace the missing money.
While Lyssa uses charm and tenacity on the long list of suspects, Kyle reconstructs the college’s old homegrown finance system. As they converge on the killer, Lyssa and Kyle may be the next two casualties.
Author Website: https://drkatecollier.wordpress.com