Our thanks to media relations expert and award-winning author Christina Hamlett for this useful article! Graphic via freedigitalphotos.net
One of the things regional retailers love is a unique event that will bring customers through their doors. This, in turn, attracts the local media and enables both sides to benefit from the exposure. Weekly newspapers in particular are always on the prowl for human interest stories.
If you’re an author, there’s a goldmine of opportunities to reach prospective buyers for your books.
For example, suppose you’ve written a murder mystery that unfolds at a winery. Instead of sitting at a table in a bookstore and hoping someone will walk by and notice you, create an event wherein you schedule a reading or a talk at an area winery. Customers who buy an autographed copy of your book are then entitled to a modest discount on their wine purchase. Since they were already on the premises to buy a bottle or two, half your work of selling is done before you even start talking.
Here are some more ideas:
- For cookbook authors, do a cooking demonstration at a gourmet shop that not only whips up excitement about the products and utensils they sell but also reinforces your “expert” status. Pass out free recipe cards featuring the cover of your book on the back.
- Are you writing YA books? Offer to be a speaker for Career Day at neighborhood schools. In concert with the exciting advice you dispense about what it’s like to be a writer, distribute pencils and pens with the titles of your books imprinted on them, hand out free bookmarks, and give them mini-teasers in the form of a tri-fold brochure or simple booklet that contains the first chapter and ends on a cliffhanger.
- Give your fictional YA characters their own blog and encourage teens and tweens to contribute to it, post reviews, and ask advice about writing, relationships and life. This strategy will also keep you in the loop on the topics that interest them.
- Volunteer for literary events and festivals. Organize readings and discussion groups at the library. If it’s not cost-prohibitive, attend national conferences/conventions and participate on panels. Leverage your expertise through consulting, mentoring and training gigs. Teach workshops at community centers or through distance-learning forums. Build your email list from registrations and routinely forward articles of interest and monthly tips that supplement the classes your recipients have attended. The goal is to keep your name active for every outreach group with whom you come in contact.
- Civic organizations (e.g. Rotary) are always looking for dynamic speakers for their luncheon meetings. Whenever you have the opportunity to give a talk to these groups, be sure to not only have copies of your books on hand but also what’s called a one-pager to distribute to attendees. The one-pager is a tidy summary of your background, your publications, your website(s), your professional affiliations and, most importantly, your availability as a speaker. Gregarious people typically belong to multiple clubs and organizations (including the Chamber of Commerce) and what you’re providing them is an easy way to make their next meeting a hit. The more you can become a known – and reliable – commodity, the more bookings you’re going to get and, accordingly, the broader your platform will become.
Nor should you forget that every major market in the world is hungry for fresh content to fill their websites, newsletters and direct mailers – all of which are opportunities to establish yourself as an expert. They’re not only willing to pay for premium articles and videos and use proprietary technology to optimize search engines, they also have no problem with writers using their own bylines. Venues such as Demand Studios (www.demandstudios.com), About.Com (www.about.com), Essortment (www.essortment.com), How To Do Things (www.howtodothings.com), and Real Simple (www.realsimple.com) enable you to build a portfolio fairly fast and, even better, encourage readers to get email alerts every time you publish something new.
Even non-paying markets such as American Chronicle (www.americanchronicle.blogspot.com) attract over 11 million annual visitors by using news aggregators such as Google, Lycos and Topix. They will syndicate your articles to 20 affiliated online magazines throughout the planet. That’s a whole lot of marketing chatter that keeps working even while you sleep!
Christina Hamlett (http://www.authorhamlett.com) is a media relations expert, script consultant, professional ghostwriter and award-winning author whose credits to date include 31 books, 156 stage plays, 5 optioned feature films, and hundreds of articles and interviews that appear online and in trade publications worldwide. Her latest release, “Office For One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide,” is available in paperback on Amazon. Learn more at http://officeforone.com.