by Misti Sandefur
Whether you choose to self-publish your book or publish through traditional publishing, you’ll always play a part in the marketing process. Yes, many of the big publishing houses lend a hand with getting the word out about your book, but when you help market your book using your own techniques, you’ll see much bigger royalty checks.
Over the course of eight years as a published author, I’ve discovered unique places to market my books — places you may not have thought of. With that said, I’d like to share my top 10 list of unique places to market your book.
If you’ve ever went to carnivals in your local area you know there’s usually a variety of vendors selling items such as fireworks, knives, food, crafts and more. Why not add your books to the mix. Get in touch with your local city hall to find out how you can set up a booth at an upcoming carnival in your area. You’ll have to invest in your books and possibly pay a fee for the booth space, but the final result could be profitable!
2. Flea Markets
Each time I visit flea markets, I see many vendors selling SMC products, and after a while it gets boring. Why? Because each booth with SMC products sell the same things. As an avid reader, I’d love to come across a few flea market booths selling books, but I’ve not discovered too many of those. Honestly, I get tired of seeing SMC product after SMC product, so if I ran across you selling your book at a flea market, I’d probably run to your booth! A change of scenery will attract attention.
3. Local Festivals
Build your local brand and get recognized by your community by selling your book at local festivals. Contact festival organizers in your area and ask them how you can set up a booth at the next festival. It may surprise you just how much traffic your booth could attract.
4. Hospital gift shops
Visit hospitals in your area and speak with them about stocking your book in the hospital’s gift shop. Even if you have to arrange to stock them on consignment, it could be worth your time and investment. After all, visitors and patients need something to occupy their time at the hospital, right?
5. Theme parks
Each year theme parks attract thousands of people, but the rides aren’t the only thing they enjoy. Many visitors also enjoy shopping in the gift shops scattered throughout the theme parks. Next time you visit a gift shop at a theme park, speak with the manager or owner about stocking a few of your books in their gift shop. Take along your brochure, a sell sheet and ordering information to leave with them. If the theme park is nearby, you could arrange to place your books in the gifts shops on consignment as well.
6. Mail order catalogs
Find catalogs related to your book and contact the person who distributes the catalog. Ask the person how you can go by having your book placed in their catalog. You may have to pay a fee, but it could be worth the investment. Another option would be to make a deal with the person distributing the catalog and offer him or her a percentage of all sales. Making this deal could save you from having to pay a large advertising fee.
7. Yard sale
Next time you have a yard sale place a few autographed copies of your book on a table of its own. Discount the book to where you’ll still make a profit. Include a free bookmark with each sale.
8. Billboard signs
Although billboard advertising is expensive, they say it’s effective. Think about it for a minute. How many billboards do you read when you’re the passenger in a car? Personally, when I see an ad on a billboard for something that interests me, I write down the information I need to find out more. Then, once the driver and I reach our destination, I refer back to the information about each product or service I wanted to find out more about.
If you believe you can work billboard advertising into your marketing budget, visit Outdoor Billboard (http://www.outdoorbillboard.com/) for a listing of billboards for rent and sale.
9. Public benches
Marketing your book on a public bench is also costly, but effective. You’ll usually see benches with advertising on them at intersections, parks, bus stops, golf courses and in front of stores. To learn more about bench advertising, Google public bench advertising, include quotes around the phrase.
10. Local mall
Phone the mall in your area and ask to speak with the person in charge of leasing. Once you have that person on the line, ask them how much it costs to lease a space in the mall, as well as the best locations to sell books.
When paying for booth space, team up with another author in your area and share the cost.
Have you discovered a unique place to market your book? Then by all means help add to this list by sharing in the comments area below. If you know of more than one unique place not already mentioned above, feel free to share your list on your writing-related blog, and mention this post as your inspiration. But don’t forget to return here and leave a link to your post in the comments area, so we writers can add to our list. 😉
Jenny B says
Local Library: When our writing group published our first book we hosted a book launch at the library where we meet. We also took turns reading portions of our work and signing copies for people.
Book Party: Another member of our writers’ group has had book parties similar to tupperware parties, pampered chef…etc. to raise awareness of her books and to sell some copies.
Candidate #8 says
Jenny: Thanks sharing the book party thing. I love that idea! (Especially because I’ve purchase enough candles and tupperware from others – maybe a few of my writer friends could have a book party and return the favor.) 🙂
Jenny B says
It’s so true, we’ve all been to those kinds of parties! I’d never thought of having a book party until she mentioned that she went back home and her mom and invited a number of friends over to hear about her book and voila a “book party” was born.
Thanks for all these great ideas.
I love #2 about the flea markets and totally agree that I would enjoy and spend time at a book vendor! I just have one question. You mention SMC products–what are those?
Great ideas! I especially like the flea market idea. With so many sellers are selling almost identical items, it’s nice to run into something fresh.
@Kathleen, SMC is Specialty Merchandise Cooportation.
Great post with lots of good ideas. Another thing you could do is register your book with http://www.bookcrossing.com and then set it free.
If you have books related to nature, the environment, etc. you can check out the gift shops at state and national parks as well.
Shawn Norris says
You can also look at bookstores of local colleges and universities. Ours has a section specifically for local writers that does pretty steady business. I’m not sure if others have this same setup.
I’ve also made a few sales by submitting excerpts to literary journals.
Candidate #11 says
@Shawn – I was going to mention the same thing. Our local university bookstores constantly feature local writers, as do the independently owned bookstores. Play up the fact that you’re a local!
Candidate #1 says
@Jenny: I know a local author who hosted a book launch at her library that she said was a success as well as a lot of fun. She sent me an invitation, but something happened on that day and I couldn’t attend. 🙁
I love the book party idea! In fact, the writer could include door prizes related to their book. I say this because I’ve been to a few home parties for Tupperware sales and etc., and they usually have prizes. Plus, if you’re really good at thinking outside the box, then you could invent a few fun games that relate to your book in some way. After all, the whole point of the party — aside from sales, of course — is to have fun. 😉
@Kathleen: Since Cindy told you what the initials (SMC) stood for, I thought I’d tell you just a bit more about them. A few years back I invested a little over $200 to sell their products, but discovered it wasn’t easy to do since a lot of people sell them. Because so many people sell SMC products, it’s tough competition. I could go into a long spill, but this is supposed to be a writing-related blog, so I won’t say much more. To sum things up regarding SMC, let me just say that a lot of the products you see at flea markets, are SMC products, which are nice, just hard to sell and profit from.
@Cindy: I always make it a point to visit the booths that have something new to offer. As I said in my post, a change of scenery will attract attention.
@Morgan: Thanks for the link to Book Crossing! I surfed over and liked what I saw, so I’ll definitely have to explore more of their site in a few days.
@everyone: Thank you for your comments! I’m glad I could help add to your marketing lists. I’d also like to thank those of you who added additional places to market your book — there are some great ideas from everyone.
I wish you all the very best with your book marketing adventures… and many sales to come!
Shawn Norris says
I just remembered something that a friend did to help sell her book. She’s been involved with a little theater troupe, so she approached them about doing a short play based on her murder-mystery novel. The performance came before the main play and didn’t really give enough detail to completely ruin the book.
Then, right before the killer was exposed, the lights go out and the curtain comes down.
Guess how many copies she sold in the lobby that night?
This is a nice little list. One thing I might add is that authors should really take a lot of time to think about who the audiences for their books are and what might characterize those audiences. These are great general suggestions (especially because you can reach a wide variety of people by using these ideas, including people who buy books as gifts for others), but it can also help to think specifically about where the people are who might really want your book.
If you’ve written a book about love in old age, for example, you might want to approach gift shops at nursing homes, resorts with high attendance from people of retirement age, etc. On the other hand, if you’ve written a book for preschoolers, you could approach schools, parenting groups, parenting magazines, toy stores, and similar places.
Hi #1, Great ideas. I’m going to bookmark this and come back when I have my first book ready.
Great ideas, I never thought about hospital gift shops. From health and fitness to books that offer escapism, there are a ton of subjects that would interest people.
Candidate #1 says
@Shawn Norris: Thanks for the fantastic idea! Theater is certainly an idea that I probably would have never thought of. I’ll bet your friend sold many copies of her book that night. 🙂
@#4: Thanks for adding additional suggestions and information to my post. You are right, we should determine the audience for our books. As you said, there are several other venues with people who might buy books written just for them.
@#7: I’m glad you’ve found my ideas to be bookmark worthy, thanks. Feel free to refer back to the list any time you need to market a book.
These are great suggestions, especially for the self-published author. Authors with (or wanting) traditional publishers/publishing houses though should be well-advised to make sure they have a strong platform. What #4 said is “dead on” about knowing the market and targeting that market for the genre/subject of the book. Also, as cheesy as it is, don’t forget eBay and your own Web sites/blogs, or those of friends who have sites/blogs that get a lot of traffic if yours doesn’t. I’d avoid the mail-order cats because a lot of people are opting out of mailed catalogs through catalog choice.
Candidate #1 says
@#9: Even authors published through traditional publishing should also invest a little time and effort into promoting their book. For one — as I said at the beginning of this post — it helps increase their checks, and two, all publishers like it when the author contributes as well. In fact, it makes the author look good, and word spreads. 😉
We definitely shouldn’t forget eBay and the others that you mentioned. And the reason I didn’t add those to my list was because I was trying to reveal a few of the more unique places — places some — or maybe many — authors may not think of.
Thanks for pointing that out about the mail order catalogs. I still enjoy receiving a few of those myself, and at times, I may order from them if the prices are right. But hey, not everyone has the same likes and dislikes, eh.
My additional advice about mail order catalogs would be to find out how many people receive the catalogs, and try to find out approximately how many of those people place orders from the catalogs. These would be things I’d ask about before listing my book in their catalogs.
1 idea i’ve had is to sell my book at the farmers’ market. i haven’t done it yet but i do plan on it.
thanks for this list! and if you can’t make it to the farmers’ market you can google my book easily and order it online.
it’s called AUSTIN NIGHTS
be well friendly people