I’m excited to be sharing our second guest post by author Carol Bodensteiner. Thanks so much Carol for taking the time to share your personal experiences and tips for launching and promoting a self-published hard copy book. Book promotion can be hard work, but it is certainly worth it in the long run. Carol’s success story is an inspiration to all indie authors.
All politics is local – So is a book launch
by Carol Bodensteiner
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill (1912-1994) famously said, “All politics is local.”
Authors getting ready to launch a book may wisely adapt O’Neill’s quote and think, “All book marketing is local.”
Even in the days of social media where users aim for tens of thousands of Twitter followers and thousands of Facebook “likes,” even now people who think local may enjoy greater success. That’s particularly true in launching a print version of a book. Here are a few tips gleaned from introducing my memoir, Growing Up Country.
Placement – People have to be able to find your book.
- When I launched, I sold my book off my website, an approach that put the most money in my pocket but that required me to do all the packing and shipping. Plus, if people didn’t know my name and couldn’t remember the name of the book, they couldn’t find my website.
- So, I walked my book into all local bookstores and gift stores. Indie bookstores were super. The reception I received reinforced this lesson: You need to ask. Ask if they’ll stock your book. Ask if you can hold an event. After all, the worst thing they can say is “no.”
- Though indie book stores were wonderful, I quickly learned this reality: Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the default book sources for most people. If you aren’t there, people jump to the conclusion that you don’t exist, even if they plan to by the book from a local store.
- I chose not to sign with Amazon Advantage at first because of the economics (they keep 55% and I had to pay shipping), which didn’t work with my book price and cost of production. For me, worldwide visibility is worth some expense but not if it means losing money on each sale. For my next book, I’ll get production costs low enough to be on Amazon from day one.
- Getting books into Barnes & Noble is more difficult because you usually need a distributor, but it can be worth the effort. It’s a matter of scale. Indie bookstores took my book in lots of five or six. B&N took them by the case.
- Think broadly about where your book could go. Gift stores in airports, hotels, restaurants, and even pharmacies are a viable option, particularly when it comes to smaller towns that don’t have bookstores.
- I Geek Libraries! I held my hometown launch event at the library, but I was short sighted when I didn’t extend that thinking to future events. Libraries are in the business of meeting the needs of readers so they may buy your book. Libraries like to have authors do readings. Generally they’ll let you sell books afterwards. Double bonus. Next book launch, I’ll do a postcard announcement to all libraries in the state and in surrounding states.
No promotion. No sales. People have to know about your book to buy your book.
- Write a news release that has a hook specific to your book and can be personalized to each event/town/date. For me the hook was “Iowa woman writes about growing up in Iowa.” Email the release to local media along with .jpg images of the book cover and your author photo. Maximize the local angle, i.e. Iowa woman (Preston woman, Jackson County woman, Eastern Iowa woman – ‘local’ can be anywhere, get it?) writes book.
- Schedule as many book signing and reading events as you can. Media cover events. Media coverage equals more events and more sales.
- Call local radio and TV stations and let them know you’re available for interviews. Media love a local story: You’re a local person who’s written a book. You’re holding events their listeners/viewers will be interested in knowing about.
- Hold multiple local launch events.
- I held a reading/book signing event in my hometown library, arranging to have the local pharmacy (placement) stock books on consignment in advance of the event, and sending the local newspaper a release and photos (promotion) touting new (local) author, new book, local event, where to buy books.
- In the city where I live now, I teamed up with two other authors who also had new books and we held a reception/book signing for our friends, family and business associates.
- I arranged book signings at three local indie bookstores and a restaurant gift store within a couple of weeks. I let the newspaper know about all four events, which caused them to see this as bigger news and run an article. The article was read by bookstore owners around the state who contacted me to carry my book and arrange signing events.
- Invite people to attend your events through email and social media. Ask them to share the invitation with their friends.
And then do it all again.
Thinking local worked for my book. Have you launched a hard copy book? What worked for you? What didn’t?
Carol Bodensteiner is a writer who finds inspiration in the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest. After a successful career in public relations consulting, she turned to creative writing. She writes regularly for The Iowan magazine, blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment at carolbodensteiner.com
She published her memoir GROWING UP COUNTRY in 2008 as a paperback and as an ebook in 2011. She’s working on her first novel, historical fiction set during World War I. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.