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|Self-Promotion - Marketing Off-line
by Lee Masterson
So you've polished and pruned and edited your manuscript until it gleams and you've managed to produce a well-written book. How then does the new author manage to increase public awareness of your book, or you as an author, and actually turn that awareness into sales?
The hard truth about writing novels is that not many authors are paid enough from sales to turn their passion into a full-time career. Publishers will rarely allocate enormous funds for the marketing and promotion of an unknown author, so it's pretty much up to you.
There are plenty of ways you can boost your overall writing sales and help push the amount you earn closer to something resembling a real income.
One thing to remember is that no single method can guarantee success on its own. Most successful marketing campaigns rely on a combination of methods to increase product awareness. The same is true for boosting sales of your own work.
Although the big marketing companies have a lavish budget to play with, most up-and-coming writers will need to work on a shoe-string budget. The good thing here is, most of the tactics used by the 'big-boys' can be easily adapted to suit your needs, without the exorbitant costs.
When it comes to marketing your work, you must be focused on giving your potential readers value for their money. Getting them to purchase one novel is not going to help in the long run if they are not satisfied enough to purchase the next.
Wherever possible, aim at giving all of your readers more than they pay for. This could mean enticing them to visit your homepage, so they can glean an insight into your next work, or into your personal creation techniques. Or it could mean making sure you reach as many of your potential readers as possible so that you are not just an imaginary out-of-reach figure to them.
Either way, it is no guarantee of future sales, but it will definitely help to build a loyal following for your work.
In this article, we will look briefly at some off-line marketing methods that you can arrange easily by yourself. The effects are more limited that promoting yourself online, but still worthwhile to overall sales.
1. - Create press release packages to send to the media and even bookstores. Local papers love the 'local writer' angle. A simple press release package need only include a copy of the cover (ask your publisher for this), a simple short article about your novel, a brief bio about yourself and perhaps a copy of the cover blurb. A nice photo of yourself might help here, too.
2. - Try to visit as many booksellers in your area as you can. Talk to them about your book. Create simple flyers or bookmarks with your computer to leave on their sales counter. Make sure your bookmark includes your website address, and perhaps even create it in a similar color scheme to your book's cover. You will find that most bookstores will gladly give their customers a "freebie" with each purchase, regardless of whether they bought your book or not, thus giving your work a free advertisement.
3. - Follow up everything you send with phone calls. Make sure you wait a couple of weeks before you make that polite query, though.
4. - Print up professional business cards with your name and your web address on them. You are a professional author, after all, and writing is still a business. Leave them everywhere and with everyone.
5. - Send your novel to magazines to be reviewed. Good reviews are an amazingly fertile source of sales. Be careful here, though, and do a little homework before you send. Aim for magazines with a similar slant or topic to your book. They will be more willing to review your work because they already have an obvious interest in the subject, and their readers are more likely to appreciate the review.
6. - Have friends and family ask for your book by title and author in bookstores near them. This is only a small approach, but considering the shelf-life of most books, any advantage is a bonus. The staff might begin to remember your name, and might just begin recommending you, or even better, may consider keeping your book on the shelves a little longer before sending them back to the publisher.
7. - Arrange your own book-signing tour. Go through the phone book and locate bookstores in your area, and remember to use the "local author" angle when you speak to the manager. Even on a small budget, you can still reach several stores near you by car.
8. - Donate copies of your book to libraries and schools. Readers may be accessing your work free, but they might like what they see and look for your next title when it appears. Building a loyal readership early on will mean good things when your next book arrives on the shelf.
9. - Consider writing short stories or articles to submit to magazines and periodicals. This is an excellent way to reach new audiences. Editors will be more willing to review a novel from an author they recognize, and readers are more willing to spend hard-earned cash on a writer they have already been exposed to.
10. - Give talks. Every city has a writer's centre, and even some schools would appreciate hearing a talk given by a published author. This goes a long way toward building a loyal readership. People remember you as a real-live-author, and not just some writer. And even if you don't generate sales, people expect to pay speakers for entertaining them, so you may walk away with a small fee.
I'm sure there are plenty of other avenues for off-line promotion you could also try. Use your imagination, but remember to be professional about your approach at all times. Don't forget to use a combination approach to your marketing. Intersperse some of these tips with some Online Promotion, and watch your sales climb.
© Copyright 2001 Lee Masterson. All rights reserved
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