August 24, 2015
More About Local Marketing and Book Stores
(Marketing and Promotion Number Six)
We’ve been addressing the issue of local marketing of one’s book(s). Another idea for local marketing, or not so local marketing, which does involve legwork, is getting your book into book stores or any stores that would be interested in your book. (Remember I said that horse gear and saddle shops would be interested in mine?) What’s the best way to do that?
Hit the beaten path:
When my first two Keystone Stables books came out, I spent quite a bit of time visiting every book store within a fifty-mile radius, both Christian and secular, along with tack shops that sold horse equipment and “horsie” stuff and hardware stores where farmers and horse owners would hang out.
Concerning book stores, since Zondervan is one of the leading Christian publishing companies in the world, I knew its products would be listed in the book store’s data base, so I had a big advantage there. I didn’t have to convince the manager to take a chance on the Keystone Stables books as I have had to do so with some of my books published by small companies or self-published books. (By the way, make sure if you self publish, you get an ISBN number on the back of the book or no store will be able to sell it even if the manager wants to.)
So, how do we “market” at a book store?
When entering a book store, I always go to the children’s department to see if my books are on the shelf. About 70% of the time they aren’t. Then I ask to see the manager. I introduce myself, give him a business card, show him my books, and ask if he would consider carrying them on his shelves. (The book stores have to order directly from Zondervan not purchase books from me.) Right now I can’t think of any manager who ever said no. Most managers say something like this: “Horse stories? Kids love horse stories. Why haven’t I heard about these books before?”
The sad truth is that even with Zondervan publishing my books, their sales reps do NOT place copies of all their newly published books on the shelves. The salesmen promote the company’s newest best-selling authors and “big name” authors. Sometimes the store have large sections of Zonderkidz products, but my books often aren’t among them.
Once in a rare while, I do find some copies of my books on the store’s shelf. As a published author, I feel a sense of joy and pride seeing my name on a book cover in a store. I immediately take all the copies to the cashier, tell him/her who I am (with a business card validating it, of course), and offer to autograph the books. Most clerks are thrilled to meet a “real, live author.”
I always leave by offering the manager or the clerk some flyers (that I had made) to post in the store about my books, and I always offer to do a book signing and ask for one of the store’s business cards with the contact information.
Earlier I had mentioned “not so local” marketing that might involve some more legwork.
What do I mean about “not so local?” How about vacations?
The same year my books came out, my husband and I drove to South Carolina to visit our one foster daughter. All the way on the trip, we pulled off the Interstate when we saw a mall in the vicinity, assuming that every mall usually has some kind of book store. (Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, book stores in malls have become a rarity.) I also did a search online to see if any book stores were near the route we would be traveling.
When we arrived in Charleston, SC, my daughter took me to every library and book store within a 30-mile radius. The libraries were given a free copy, (and the librarians asked that I NOT sign the books because people would steal them for the autograph), and the book stores found out about these brand-new kids’ books, the Keystone Stables series.
This plan didn’t take that much extra money, but it did take some time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think my husband read about a dozen magazines in the car on our trip to SC and back home while I ran in and out of book stores on our trek.
I know it only seems like a drop in the bucket when you consider the entire country, but, at least, I got my foot in the door as far as spreading the word. And all my legwork did pay off. There have been over 100,000 copies of the Keystone Stables books sold after being in print twelve years, and they’re still selling quite well.
Next time, we’ll discuss mass mailings. Are they worth it?
(More shameless promotion)
Book 3 in the Keystone Stables Series
Foster kid Skye Nicholson has her hands full with a new foal who’s mama dies
and a new foster kid, Tanya Bell, who wants nothing to do with her.
Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books (Web) www.marshahubler.com (Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com (Writers Conference Information) www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com (Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com