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Monday, July 9, 2012

Self-Publishing: Start Locally to Market Your Book

I subscribe to several websites that pertain to the books I write. Recent posts discuss the ups and downs of self-publishing. Marketing worries are a common theme. Though the authors like the way their books turned out, the challenge of marketing is as effortful as climbing a mountain.

Where do you start?
First, think about why you chose this particular company. Think about how much you have invested in your book. In addition to your basic fee, you may have paid extra fees for editing, cover design, website design, creating a blog, and listing your book on Amazon. Add up your total bill and determine how much you are willing to pay for marketing.

Second, think about your community. Since I've lived in Rochester, Minnesota for years I thought I knew about all of the marketing channels. When I started to research them, however, I was surprised at the number of new marketing channels I found. Local publicity may lead to state publicity and state publicity may lead to national, so I started locally. This is turning out to be a good decision.

In a few weeks I am participating in the Rochester Public Library's First Celebration of Authors. I will have display space, my name and photo in a special brochure, have opportunities to talk with local residents, and most important, sell my books. If your public library has a similar event, take advantage of it. You may even want to start a celebration of local authors in your home town.

Each year, the local college has a series of courses for seniors. I contacted the college and offered to teach a course for its LIFE (learning is for ever) program. In fact, I gave the organizers four potential titles and courses to choose from. This fall I will be teaching a course related to one of my books. My name, photo, and a brief biography will appear in the LIFE catalog.

Contacting your local newspaper sounds obvious but, in reality, it can be tricky. Newspapers don't want to look like they are doing a commercial for your book. So when you contact the newspaper (I sent an email) say you have a story idea. Flesh in this idea with a few facts and leads. At the end of this month, the local newspaper is doing a story based on my idea.

Community groups, especially in small towns, are always looking for speakers. I've spoken to Rotary, the Lions, and church support groups. If you take this route, however, make sure you tailor your talk to each group. You don't want to come across as a one-talk author. Chances are, you won't be able to sell your book at a meeting, but you can tell members how to find it.

Speakers' Associations offer unlimited marketing opportunities. I just joined the Minnesota Speakers' Association. The state group is managed by the American Motivational Speakers Bureau, which books engagements and, in return, receives a 25% fee. Several membership levels are available and I chose one I could afford. Your state may have a similar speakers' association.

Book marketing takes time, energy, and money. Maybe you will get your money back and maybe you won't. Still, you have spread the word about your book and, or many authors, that's worth more than money.
Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson

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