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The days of publishers handling all an author’s marketing are looking like a thing of the past, even for traditionally published authors. This means you need to take control of your own marketing strategy for your books’ promotions.
To begin, list off the places where you imagine people will see information about your book(s). We have some ideas, but you know your community best so trust your expertise there. It’s safe to say you will need to at least look in these places:
- Your Website!
- Your Social Media Platforms (that point back to your website — not a selling platform)
- A Cross-Promotion platform that you share with other authors
- Bookchain.ca, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, PublishDrive, and as many selling platforms as possible to create streams of revenue/royalties.
- Independent Bookstores and Retail Outlets (many Chanticleerians join with garden shops, wineries, gift shops, toy stores, etc.) to sell their books.
Your local bookstores deserves special attention. There are always loyal readers with a strong preference to shop local, so take some time to show those stores extra love.
- Shelf-talkers for point of sale displays
- Small posters (free standing and flat for windows and bulletin boards
- Shiny book stickers work! – They make your books stand out on the shelf.
- Bookmarks with your WEBSITE and Social Media Handles and your Covers — ask if you may insert them in your books.
- Make plans to participate in virtual author events – most indie booksellers are hosting these with great success
- THEN you promote your events every where! (Social Media, email blasts, website, posters, etc.)
Now let’s put those together for some general recommendations (remember, your situation is unique, so if this advice clearly needs an adjustment for you, go for it).
[Editor’s Note: David Beaumier has worked with Village Books (Bellingham’s local Independent Bookstore) for several years before rejoining the Chanticleer Team after completing his Master Degree in English, so he knows what he is talking about with how to increase sales at local bookstores.]
How to Make Your Website More Effective in Promoting Your Books
We recommend that your website has a tab for Reviews and Awards, in addition to a tab for your books. It can also be good to include your shelf talker blurb after that to showcase a strong hook to bring your reader in. Then, from your Book tab, lead them to your review from there so they can see you have a strong digital base already built up with accolades from an independent and respected reviewer. These nods to your success tell the reader that your book is worthwhile and make it stand out from the thousands of other books they’ll come across.
- Tab for Reviews and Awards
- Books Tab for more information with links to wear to purchase
- Feature Your Digital Badges
- Sign up Page for Announcements, Freebies, Bonuses, Short Stories, News, and Beta Readership Opportunities
- If your books are available at indie bookstores, or other retail outlets — list where they are and give links!
- Questions For and How To Connect with Book Clubs (remember — virtual gives you a wider audience span and the benefit of no travel expenses)
You can feature your digital sticker in proximity to an image of your cover in both places. It can also be good to include your shelf talker blurb after that to showcase a strong hook to bring your reader in. Then, from your Book tab, lead them to your review from there so they can see you have a strong digital base already built up with accolades from an independent and respected reviewer. These nods to your success tell the reader that your book is worthwhile and make it stand out from the thousands of other books they’ll come across.
Marketing packages can include an ARC, any swag you have (bookmarks, buttons, wrist bands, quarter sheet advertisements), a one page Sell Sheet (aka a write up of your book) which should mention your awards and positive reviews (including excerpts). On websites where your book is sold, you can populate their editorial review section of the site with your Chanticleer Editorial Book Review.
Village Books at night. A brick cornerstone of the community with light pouring out the windows when it gets to be dark at 4 p.m. Our very own local, Bellingham bookstore. Local bookstores are key for selling your book!
Check to see if they have a regular advertising publication or newsletter and ask about including your review or your shelf talker in it (depending on space). Ask if you can post shelf talkers at their store and what the specifications for talkers are through their store.
If a bookstore team member says they love the genre you write in, you can even offer them a free copy of your book and ask if they can do a write up for you. They have an abundance of riches when it comes to free books, but they don’t have a personal connection with every author. Only offer if they seem interested. Generally, do remember to always be kind to bookstore employees. They are the people who hand sell your book the most after you.
If the bookstore does do raffles on sale event days, or if you are having a socially distanced author event perhaps the staff can offer your swag such lavender sachets to each attendee or purchaser (as Gail Noble Sanderson does with The Lavender Meuse Trilogy or Kizzie Jones offers with coloring sheets for her Tall Tale of Dachsunds children’s book series).
Here is what Kizzie Jones is doing for her foreign book editions:
Plan events with your ribbon front and center — even if it is virtual — have your well-earned Chanticleer Blue Ribbon placed where it can be seen — another subtle way of stating that you are an award-winning author without having to say so yourself in your virtual presentation.
People know what a blue ribbon means, and it’s a great way to start a conversation about your book. Events are for more than just your local bookstore, but any stores near where you live or other places you think your story might resonate. Ask yourself if you might know special interest groups that would want to read your work that deals with zookeeping, financial advising, or a classic thriller. Reach out and add these places to your tour stops–yes even virtual tours—all small businesses are looking for ways to create virtual events to keep existing customers and find new ones.. Bookstore websites often run reading and writing groups that might connect to the genre you work in, and they love to have published authors stop by to chat with them.
But what about “virtual events” at your local bookstore?
If this means bookmarks, buttons, stickers, quarter sheets, and remember to put in your winning status and/or a blurb from your review as applicable and as makes sense for fitting the information onto the material. These swag items are a great way to keep the book in people’s mind. Bookstores can drop all of these into customer’s bags, which can really pay off in sales! Especially if the purchase was instigated by a virtual event. These items let your readers know that they are special to YOU! Be sure to invite them to visit your website because you offer readers special prizes and raffles and other fun stuff to readers who subscribed.
Always be gracious with anyone who might sell or buy your work at an event. There’s no crowd too small, even if it’s just a bookstore employee—remember, that person will hand sell your book and be your representative to customers in the store.
The short version of this, as with all the best advice, is to have a plan, reach out to your local community that provides built-in support, and always be kind and gracious to those around you.
Tweet us @ChantiReviews on Twitter to let us know how you used your marketing materials and award from Chanticleer to help generate interest in your book. We will share and LIKE and Comment.
Promote your wins by showing off your digital badges (Semi-Finalist, Finalist, First Place, or Grand Prize), book stickers, and reviews!
Now to start preparing for the HOLIDAY SEASON – Stay tuned for Tips and Tools for Increasing Holiday Book Sales.