Marketing the Old-Fashioned Way

My guest today is Sherrie Hansen, author of Night and Day published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Sherri writes:

So you’ve written a wonderful book. Friends and family who’ve read it rave about how good it is.  Now all you have to do is to figure out how to get it into the hands of the hundreds and thousands of other people who you know would enjoy it.

Marketing your book can be far more intimidating than writing it – especially for a writer who is more introvert than extrovert. For me, it is not so much the lack of courage, but lack of time that comes into play.

Whatever your reason for not getting your book out there, conquering a few easy marketing strategies can make the difference between your book being a success and not.

I’m not a marketing expert by any means, but I’ve owned and operated a fairly successful bed and breakfast and tea house for 17 years, and I have learned quite a bit about promoting a product. Here are a few ideas that I’ve come up with for marketing my recent release, Night and Day, that I hope you’ll be able to adapt and use to market your own books. 

(Note:  In this article, I will concentrate on old-fashioned, non-internet marketing ideas. )

1.  A couple of weeks ago, I personally visited several grocery stores and specialty shops in my area with a book in hand to let them know about Night and Day. One shop owner handed me cash right then and there and said they’d call when they needed more books. They’ve already called to order 2 more. Other shop owners seemed more skeptical, and wanted to have the books, but on consignment.

One woman wasn’t there when I stopped by, so I left a book for her to take a look at. When I returned a week later, she had read half of it, and was  saying things like, “What are you doing living in St. Ansgar, Iowa? You should be in New York City writing full time – you have such a knack for this! The book is wonderful! I love it!” and “If I don’t get my Easter ham in the oven, it’s going to be your fault. I can’t put this book down!”

While not everyone is going to react to your book with such enthusiasm, all it takes is one person – in a store, a community, an area, and the word is going to get out. Word of mouth is always the best advertising. Giving away a few books to people you think might be good cheerleaders might really pay off.

2.  I also sent out a letter to a dozen or two shops in areas mentioned in my book. For Night and Day, I targeted Scandinavian specialty shops, quilting shops, and book stores in areas of Minnesota mentioned in the book, as well as areas of Iowa and California with high concentrations of Danish settlers. So far, I have only had one positive response, but it was definitely worth my time. And, once I follow up with a personal visit (I’m planning to head to Red Wing, Welch, Cannon Falls and Blooming Prairie, MN as soon as I have more books, and a free day.)  I hope to land a few more placements for my book. You can find email and mailing addresses online if you visit the chamber of commerce pages for the community you’re targeting.

3.  Offer to do a book signing at the shop’s next sale, open house, or special event. Shop owners are always looking for ways to attract a few more customers. Some shops have wine tastings, or craft demos, or participate in community celebrations. Ask if you can come to their next event and be part of the excitement. Everyone I spoke to reacted enthusiastically to this idea. I’ve even been invited to do a book signing at the Book Loft in Solvang, CA next January when we’re out on the West Coast. It might have something to do with the fact that I offer to bring a plate of Melting Moments (a little Danish butter cookie my family has always made) with me when I come.  A unique slant can catch their attention.

4.  Woman’s groups and clubs, church groups, community groups, most any kind of group enjoy special speakers. I’ve been on several committees, and it’s a constant challenge to find someone to speak at our monthly meetings. Prepare a 10 – 15 minute long talk on some aspect of your experience, and contact libraries, churches, friends, community centers, senior citizen centers, and let them know you’re available. Odds are, they’ll be delighted, and you’ll soon have an opportunity to present your book to a captive audience! I will be speaking to a local writer’s group this Friday at 10 a.m., and another, in the next town over, sometime next month.

5.  Send out press releases to area newspapers, radio and television stations. Include a blurb, a bio, a photo, a list of places your book is available, and hopefully, a slant that makes your story unique. A unique slant might be how you were discovered, how the story ties in with a local legend or current event, or what inspired you to write the book in the first place. Most of them will go in the trash, but if even one picks up the story (who doesn’t love a “local girl or guy done good” story?), it will have been worth your while. I taped my first radio interview yesterday, for a station in Atlantic, Iowa, a large Danish community a couple of hours south of here. Who knows what will come of it?

6.  Offer your book as an auction item or special prize for your favorite charity, a church bazaar, or a local contest. Most places will also let you leave a stack of business cards or book marks to maximize your exposure.

I’m sure there are many other ideas that you can use to market your books, but hopefully, this short list will jog your creative impulses and help you get started. If not, make a list of what kind of people you think would enjoy your book (who is your target customer?) and where you are most likely to reach them.  Then, make a list of each place, area, craft, hobby, or profession mentioned (hopefully in a positive light) in your book, and start thinking about how you can market to those niches.

You HAVE written a wonderful book. Now it’s time to tell the world!

3 Responses to “Marketing the Old-Fashioned Way”

  1. Sherrie Hansen Says:

    Thanks for featuring my article, Pat. I’m thrilled that Night and Day is selling so well and hope my marketing efforts continue to pay off. You’ve done a great job of promoting your new books on the internet. You have so many creative ideas!

    Thanks again,

    Sherrie Hansen
    Night and Day

  2. Pat Bertram Says:

    I’m pleased to do it, Sherrie. It’s a good article, with lots of valuable information. As you continue your promotion efforts, keep Book Marketing Floozy in mind. I’m always glad to get good contributions.

  3. Laurie Foston Says:

    Do ya’ll remember the “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” on the Twilight Zone where William Shatner plays a man who is on an airplane and thinks he sees something on the wing of an airplane, pulls the window shade down only to jerk it right back up at an impulse because he THINKS something’s out there?

    That’s me!

    I planned a weekend of peace and quiet with no thought of publishing, think tanks, or sales gimmicks. I told myself and others I would be out of touch and using self control to refrain from getting online.

    I took the easels outside and got Boyd out in the 68 degree weather and we painted a tropical sunset with a moon rising. (He did pretty good for his first oil painting.)

    My niece brought food cooked off the grill. The windy breeze came in from the southwest. We sat down on the church pew on my front porch. (A regular bench or porch swing isn’t big enough) No one mentioned publishing or marketing or what the rank of my book was on Amazon. (I am usually watching it obsessively and compulsively.)

    The grandniece and her 13-year-old girlfriend went and got the five three-week-old kittens I am sheltering from a stray I found and brought them out in an Easter basket for us to cuddle and coo over.

    I went to the grocery and got groceries and made me a drink. A coke. I opened my email and wrote to Pat, saying I was cool and calm with nothing to interrupt me from reading on her new book, A Spark of Heavenly Fire. Then I went looking for the book and got side tracked when my niece came to see the finished painting. I had to let the cat out . . . changed a nasty litterbox, started picking up and cleaning . . . all depressing tasks… then it happened.

    Yep. Then it happened. I pulled the window shade up. Up came the lid on my laptop, like the addict who yanks the lid off the bottle of valium and right onto Facebook without another thought, except that Pat might be answering my former email. Excuses, excuses. Bonnie might just be sending an email…telling myself I wasn’t looking for any news from Indie Publishers and BOOM!

    My fingers did the walking over to Pat’s profile and I hit the link for this discussion.

    And look what happened! I did find something! Here’s the list, people. I got practically the same stuff in my marketing package from my publisher give or take some things that you do with your publisher, or an assigned marketeer.

    Boy, am I glad I lost control! Amen to this posting! I have been down this road. You have to follow every lead that you can. Everywhere you run an errand make sure you take a book with you and have them in your car trunk.

    There’s something in her article that I want to point out.

    Her BOOK sells her BOOK.

    She is saying that after she sold some books more books sold! That’s when you know you are making headway. If you can make the book sell more books then you are moving at the right pace. If your book has been on the market a while and you have done these things and your book is sitting still then you need to re-evaluate your book.

    The book Sherrie is talking about…Night and Day…is new on the market. If she is selling these quickly and they are new on the market then she is doing more than just marketing her book. Her book is selling her book.

    This is a recipe for success.

    But because I haven’t paid attention to my priorities lately, I’m going back to Pat’s book now, A Spark of Heavenly Fire and find out how Mr. rich man millionaire, (Jeremy) is going to slither out of town in an old clunker he paid an arm and leg for, and how he’s gonna make out with those doubled up sleeping bags. Maybe a scorpion will crawl into his sleeping bag as he slides into it the first night . . . it ought to . . . go in that bag and sting him. He’s making me sick with loathsome self-indulgence and he outta have to eat out of a can of beans and use a regular can opener like some of us down here in Southaven, Ms. I can’t wait for him to get bit by something.

    I am pulling the window shade back down. I feel an idea coming on. I am about to start a new Think Tank. But first I am going back to A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

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