Hi everyone! Happy Summer! Pam Meyers here with another installment on marketing your debut novel (or any novel). I hope to share through my own experience the things that have worked for me and haven’t worked.
I have probably mentioned in past columns how much the landscape has changed with regard to book signings as booksellers are welcoming such events with less and less enthusiasm. This holds true both in the non-CBA bookstores and in CBA. I realize there are still pockets where book signings happen with regularity, mostly in the South, but I have gotten the sense that is the exception rather than the rule.
To that end, with my historical Romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, coming out next April, I’ve begun to develop a relationship with the Geneva Lake Museum in the town of Lake Geneva, which happens to be my hometown. Since the story is an historical set in 1933, it made sense to suggest to them I do a presentation on what I have learned about the town and surrounding area during that time period. The director is very enthused and has provided me with information regarding local history organizations who would likely attend my event. I’ll speak on the facts I’ve learned about 1933 Lake Geneva and will have my new book available for sale and to sign.
Author Allie Pleiter mentioned at a recent ACFW Chapter meeting that she had recently attended a knitters convention where she promoted her book and had a successful day. I asked if I could ask her a few questions for inclusion in this blog, and she graciously agreed.
Allie is an avid knitter and has a blog devoted to knitting, from which she has developed a platform for that particular niche audience. She often includes in her books a character who knits and in that way ups the appeal to knitters.
Most of us have interests aside from our writing, thus giving us a built-in niche target audience, much like Allie has. It could be doing your family history, gardening, raising a certain breed of dog or cat, or maybe a horse! At this time in your life it may be raising kids or taking care of elderly parents. Whatever is grabbing your interest is fair game.
She told me, “Events not held in bookstores do better than events in stores.”
For the knitting convention, she approached the event planner and pitched her tie-in idea of holding a one-time meeting with a giveaway of her books. Allie has been with the same publisher for a long while, and she went to them and asked if they would be willing to provide the books free of charge for her to use in the event. As part of her pitch to the publisher she presented them with a marketing plan for that particular event. They agreed, and when people came to the publicized event to hear Allie speak, a free book was on every chair. The picture at the left was taken at the event. And everyone went home with Allie’s book in hand, anxious to read a story that has a knitter as one of the characters.
Of course a debut author would not have yet established themselves with a publisher and have had sales to a point where the publisher would be willing to give as many as thirty or forty books away, unless you are going to be interviewed on the Rachael Ray show or some other nice platform like that :-). But what you could do is have a couple of gift baskets to have a drawing and include a copy of your book in the basket along with some other goodies that tie in to whatever the event is focusing on. For example, Allie's basket could include knitting needles or other kitting gadgets and patterns. Maybe a gift card to a local yarn shop.
Allie made sure to have a signup sheet available for people to provide contact information for her mailing list. She not only was given new names to add to her newsletter mailing list, but she also made a point of contacting each person individually to thank them for attending her talk. Additionally, she provided her audience with her knitting blog address and encouraged them to come there for an opportunity to win another book. It is Allie’s belief that a reader is not truly committed to your work until they get a second book.
Another prize Allie has offered readers is the opportunity to have a character in Allie’s next book named after them. Readers seem to enjoy that a lot and get a kick out of seeing their name in print in that way.
As I spoke with Allie, I became excited at the new ideas she gave me in connection with promoting my next release which is called Love Will Find a Way, the sequel to Thyme for Love.
I haven’t yet decided what to do for that launch, but the wheels are turning. Since my heroine is a chef, why not have it in a store that caters to cooking enthusiasts? Of course, I’d have to convince the storekeeper my event would bring in business and not shoo it away. Or maybe have a cooking demo while I make one of my heroine’s dishes and teach how to prepare it. All the while, of course, having a stack of my books handy to sell and sign.
I bet you’re also coming up with ideas connected to your own stories. Why not use the comments here and share? That way we can learn from each other. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve come up with.