Writing a blog and using social media are a given, so we won't discuss those here. For tips on leveraging social media, see this post.
Face to face interaction is one your most powerful selling tools. It's one thing to view an emotional painting or read a particularly moving passage, but to be able to say, "I met the person who made this" leaves an emotional memory on your audience. It also instills trust -- people are more likely to buy your book if you meet them in person.
Here are four strategies you can use to increase your readership.
Prepare A Presentation
Consider this: you've written a book. With all the research you put into it, you are now an expert with respect to its contents -- this applies equally for non-fiction as for fiction. But you're more than just that, because in the process of writing your book and getting it published, you're likely also more well-versed in this field than most. All this is fine content for a presentation.
A word of caution: do not make your presentation strictly an informercial for your book, or your audience will quickly lose interest. You will need to consider what information might be of value to your audience, and this is a question that must be answered on a case by case basis. Some genres, particularly non-fiction, are more amenable because you are sharing what is -- hopefully -- interesting or useful information.
It's a bit trickier with genre fiction. In this instance, you may wish to discuss how your genre fiction applies to current events and issues, or perhaps anecdotes on your personal publishing journey. You can talk about what it's like to be a published author, what your interests are, what strategies helped you become published, and then tie it back into your book. Everyone these days wants to be an author, and they'd love to hear about your successes. Once you establish yourself in a genre and have a few more books under your belt, you can refine your message.
It's up to you to decide what strategy will work best for your audience, given the nature of your book.
Prep A Media Kit & Materials
You will need one media kit for every book, although some materials are reusable across several books.
- At a minimum, your media kit should include:
- A short (50-word) biography.
- A press release relevant to the current event.
- A one-page book synopsis.
- A sample chapter from your book.
- Your contact information.
- A professional photo (headshot is preferred).
- An image of your book cover.
You will need to put thought into your media kit because of how brief many of your materials will be. Consider your biography and your work as a whole, and then distill it down to the most important or salient points. Reporters are always struggling against deadlines, and the best media kit is the one that makes their job easiest.
It also helps to have on hand the following materials, which can be printed inexpensively:
- Business cards: These are for any professional contacts you might make at your event. Freebies (below) are for potential readers.
- Freebies: Bookmarks, flyers, your book cover printed on card stock and autographed by you, etc. Have them printed with your name, your book's cover, your website, Twitter handle, and other information readers can use to find your books online. Have these printed in color.
- Signage: Every venue is different, so you will need to plan ahead. Most will have no problem with a tabletop stand-up sign (about 24" x 10"), some (like conventions) will permit you a collapsible floor scroll banner (60" x 24"). Make certain you know what's permissible and what isn't before you bring your materials with you.
Reach Out To Libraries
To be clear, the point of this section isn't to show you how to sell books to libraries -- that's tricky business in itself, as budgets are tighter than ever and purchase orders must go through a great deal of red tape to get approved. This section is about using libraries as a way to spread awareness of your book.
Libraries are not obsolete in the era of Kindles and ebooks -- far from, in fact. Not only will you find physical books in libraries, but also a collection of ebooks in their catalogues. The library has evolved with the times to become multimedia information center.
Call or visit branch libraries and ask to speak with their director of community events. Barring that, ask to speak with their head librarian. Oftentimes, the library staff will permit you use of their floor space for your presentation at little to no cost. After your presentation, you'll host an author meet & greet, where you will offer autographed copies for sale to attendees.
Another word of caution: most libraries will likely not have any qualms with you selling your book at their venue, but always ask permission beforehand.
Reach Out To Bookstores
Make a list of the bookstores in your area. Phone them and introduce yourself to the store managers. Inquire whether they would be interested in hosting you for a presentation or author meet & greet at their store.
Large chain bookstores oftentimes host local author events, and these are great opportunities to leverage because larger stores tend to have greater traffic. With the big chain stores, you'll want to give plenty of lead time before your event. Store managers have discretion as to how (and whether) to hold events like these; and while some have no problem having an author walk in on a given a day, others prefer to wait until they can host several authors in one sitting.
Before reaching out to store managers, be sure to prepare a brief and compelling business case. Whatever your aim may be, for the store manager, it's all about how your visit will generate book sales for the store. Above all, be polite -- managers are always pressed for time, and you are asking to be invited to their store.
You may have greater success with smaller, local bookstores. Many often host open-mic nights where writers can read their work (think of these as "free samples" for the reading public); some even set aside certain days of the month for local author presentations or "meet the author" nights.
As the creator of your work, you are in the best position to spread the word about it. After all the effort you put into writing your book, you owe it to yourself and your work to go that extra mile and share your creation with the world.