We’ve been addressing the issue of local marketing of one’s book. Another idea for local marketing, or not so local marketing, which does involve legwork, is getting your book into book stores or 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 bookstore within a fifty-mile radius, both Christian and secular, along with any tack shops that sold horse equipment and “horsie” stuff.
Since Zondervan is one of the leading Christian publishing companies in the world, I knew its products would be listed in the bookstore’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 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.)
When entering the store, I always went to the children’s department to see if my books were on the shelf. About 70% of the time they were not. Then I asked to see the manager. I introduced myself, gave him a business card, showed him my books, and asked if he would consider carrying them on his shelves. Right now I can’t think of any manager who ever said no. Most managers said 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 best-selling authors, not a greenhorn like me. Sometimes the store had large sections of Zonderkidz products, but my books were not among them.
Once in a rare while, I WOULD find some copies of my books on the store’s shelf. As a published author, I felt a sense of joy and pride seeing my name on a book cover in a book store. I immediately took all the copies to the cashier, told him/her who I was (with a business card validating it, of course), and offered to autograph the books. Most clerks were thrilled to meet a “real, live author.”
I always left by offering the manager or the clerk some flyers (that I had made) to post in the store about my books, and I always offered to do a book signing and asked 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 off to the side, assuming that every mall usually has some kind of bookstore. I also did a search online to see if any bookstores were near the route we would be traveling.
When we got to Charleston, SC, my daughter took me to every library and bookstore within a 30-mile radius. The libraries were given a free copy, and the bookstores found out about this 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 three books in the car while I ran in and out of bookstores 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.
Next time, we’ll discuss mass mailings. Are they worth it?
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Writers Conference Information)
(Horse Facts Blog)
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