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Frugal Book Promotion Ideas
The Hard Work Is Done, Right?
You have finally finished your book. Months and probably years have gone into the writing of that book, and you are proud of it. Maybe while you were writing it you had visions of fame and fortune as millions purchase your book and you are highly sought-after for guest appearances on Oprah and Letterman.
Then a taste of reality joined you as you sent out query letter after query letter and not one agent or publisher was interested in your book. How can that be? How can they not see the brilliance of your writing? Don’t they know how long and how hard you worked to deliver your masterpiece?
So you do the next logical thing and you self-publish your book. You take your manuscript to a printing company, you pay six bucks a piece for the first printing of one-hundred books, and now you are holding in your hand the finished product in book form.
Now what do you do?
Well this author, and thousands like me, have faced that exact question. Now what do we do?
Let me begin by stating that I hate self-promotion. I would rather have a root canal without anesthetic than promote myself. It is painful and quite frankly I find it a bit demeaning. I just want to write my novels and then have the multitudes flock to my doorstep begging for the chance to read it. I am a writer and not a huckster. What do I know about self-promotion?
Well, in truth, I know a bit about promotion. I have a degree in Marketing and I have owned three businesses in the past, so I’m well aware of the value of marketing. I understand how to buy ads and find the ideal match between my needs and what the different forms of marketing can deliver. However, when it came time for me to self-promote my own novel, money became a major concern. Buying advertising is expensive and much too cost-prohibitive for me and my budget. I needed to find ways to promote my book that would basically cost me nothing but some hard work and effort.
It was time to get creative.
From that experience I learned several methods of self-promotion that basically cost nothing, and today I am going to share those five methods with you. Of course there are many ways to self-promote a novel or for that matter artwork of any kind, but I am going to share the five methods that were successful for me.
Libraries Are Goldmines
If you are a writer then it should be obvious that your target audience is comprised of readers. Duh! And where do you find readers day in and day out, month after month? The library!
Any town of any size has a library and I guarantee you that most libraries are more than happy to have a local writer do a reading. In Olympia, Washington where I live, there are three libraries within the metropolitan area and all three were excited to have me read for them. They put me on their schedule. I showed up with fifty of my books, a pen for signing and a coffee, and they provided the room, signing table and podium. I gave a fifteen minute reading and then sold a few books.
I handed out business cards that had my website printed on them, and I chatted with the patrons about writing and about life. Each reading was a wonderful experience and each reading was profitable at no cost.
Bookstores Will Love You
How many bookstores do you have in your town or city? Drop by and ask them if you can do a reading and/or signing of your new book. I promise that you will receive a warm welcome and before long you will be on their schedule.
I went to five bookstores pitching myself and four offered signing times. Three of them took my book and sold it on a 70/30 split with me getting the 70%. There is nothing quite like seeing your book sitting on the shelves of a bookstore, and on signing day two of those bookstores put my book in their front window with a sign advertising my book reading and signing date.
Total cost: NOTHING!
A Great Resource
- Craft Shows, Music Festivals, Craft Fairs, Fine Art Fairs
Looking for music festivals, craft shows or art fairs? Turn to the best festival database online. More than 24,000 North American events. Search the Festivalnet database.
Spring and Summer Craft Fairs
Every single state has spring and summer craft fairs, and every single craft fair offers tent space for a price. Depending on the popularity of the individual fair, the cost can be anywhere from ten to seventy-five dollars for two or three days.
This was the only self-promotion that cost me money but I made a profit so it was worth it. I went on Craigslist and found a craft tent/awning on sale for $30. Then I sent in my registration fee of $30 for a fair in April, 2012, and headed off to fame and fortune.
Well, not exactly fame and fortune, but I did sell eight books that first weekend for a profit of twenty bucks, and subsequent fairs during that summer netted me over $500 in sales during three months. As a bonus I got to sit with Bev at some fun events and laugh at life. How great is that?
Facebook and the Social Media
I am not a big advocate of Facebook as an advertising medium only because it seems everybody and their mothers promote things on Facebook. I think there is a very real chance that your promotion will be ignored by 99.9% of those who glance at it.
Having said that, I sold twenty-two books because of my promotion on Facebook and it cost me nothing to do it, so how bad of an experience was it?
My only word of caution when using the social media to promote your work is that there is a very real danger of turning people off with your annoying sales pitch. I happen to think you are better off with one main pitch and then a follow-up reminder and that’s it. Why annoy potential buyers and ruin what goodwill you might have?
Have you self-published a book?
Don’t Ignore Other Local Businesses
Books will sell in other stores other than bookstores. Local businesses enjoy promoting local businesses. They understand that their success depends on your success and reciprocity is the lifeblood of a healthy business community.
I was excited when two antique stores offered to carry my novel and yes, I sold some books there. One clothing store gave my books some space on their front counter and yes, I sold some books there.
Do not limit your possibilities. If it is a business it has customers and if it has customers then I guarantee you that they read books. Why not give them a chance to read your book?
Some thoughts from yours truly
My book on Kindle
- The 1259 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
The 1259 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Odds and Ends
I cannot over-emphasize the following point: you should have a website for your book. You should also have business cards and you should be active not only in your community but in online writing communities as well.
I found a printing company online that printed magnetic advertising strips that stuck to the side of our car. The strip was a mini-advertisement for my book, and everywhere I drove my advertisement drove with me. I think I paid ten bucks for that magnet and it was so worth it.
Think outside the box. Remember, this is your book. This is the culmination of countless hours of work and now you need to take whatever steps are necessary to sell your work. I have even given away copies of my book to target audiences because I believe it is profitable in the long run.
I hope these suggestions are helpful for you. There are many more ideas that you can try, and I hope they all work for you. I know from experience how hard it is to write and publish a book, and I sincerely hope you all receive the rewards you deserve. Best of luck to you all! If I can be of any help to you or answer any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)