Marketing books can be quite a challenge because there are so many of us doing the same thing. Most published authors post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Many of us send postcards and newsletters to our mailing lists. We do book signings, workshops, and other speaking engagements. So what can we do differently—something that is unique?
Try looking inside the cover of your book for the answer. There’s bound to be something in there that you can use in your marketing efforts. This can be something specific to your characters or setting. Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times, you might have to dig.
When I started thinking about what to do with Sweet Baklava, I decided to test an idea on the marketing team at Abingdon Press. I purchased a couple large trays of baklava and sent it to them for their meeting. According to the editor and marketing director, it was a very sweet (but sticky) success. After that, when I did book signings, I asked permission to bring baklava, and most bookstores allowed it, as long as I provided something for customers to wipe their hands on. Armed with a pen, trays of baklava, baby wipes, and napkins, I never had any trouble getting people to my table.
B&H is working hard to get word out about the Bloomfield series (with Gail Sattler, Kathi Macias, Martha Rogers, Trish Perry, Miralee Ferrell, Jenness Walker, and Tracy Bowen). Bloomfield is a town filled with quirky characters, most of them members of the garden club that pretty much runs everything. The series launched with my first straight-to-digital book Waiting for a View. Editor Julie Gwinn, marketing strategist Shannon Kozee, and publicist Jeane Wynn have come up with some fun contests that center on the gardening theme. Bloomfield has a Facebook page and Pinterest board with gardening ideas, recipes, and whatever else we can think of.
An author of a series of books about a seamstress purchased a case of inexpensive travel sewing kits and had her name printed on the covers. She used these to hand out at conferences and book signings. I kept one in my handbag for emergencies, and every time I pulled it out to repair a hem, I thought of her books.
Jot down marketing ideas as you write your books to make sure you don’t forget. Don’t worry about any single idea being silly or unworthy of your marketing efforts because this is just a list that you’ll refer to later. It’s okay to add something to your book for marketing purposes, as long as it is organic to your story. If your character is out shopping and picks up a candle in her favorite scent, using scented candles for marketing your book makes sense. However, if your story takes place in the mountains, adding a seashell would likely jolt the readers. Once the book is off your desk and in the final stages of production, you can concentrate on finding at least one marketing tool from your list.
If you’ve already written your book, and it’s published, go back and read it with a marketer’s eye. Look for anything, even something small, that you can use when promoting your book. If your character goes on a trip, you can have postcards made with pictures of the setting.
The most important advice I can give about using elements of your story to market your book is to enjoy the process!