Grassroots Book Marketing Plan
Even in 2018, the internet is not the only way to market your book. In fact, local and regional grassroots book marketing efforts are a great way to set your book apart from the crowded online marketplace. Face-to-face interactions, community outreach, and even just getting your name and face out there as a local author can help build a base of interest that authors marketing exclusively online simply won’t have. Obviously, these grassroots book marketing approaches will be especially effective for authors marketing a book that is relevant to local interests or concerns. But even other authors will benefit from an offline presence. And the two are not unrelated – your local base can, for example, help you get your first batch of Amazon reviews, which will in turn boost your online efforts.
But with the publishing and marketing process increasingly focused online, many authors may not be sure where to start. While some of this may depend on your book’s topic and intended market, almost every author will have a community they can use as a jumping-off point for marketing efforts. You may find some of your most loyal fans this way.
Know Your Audience
As with online marketing, you’ll first want to gain an understanding of your target audience. But instead of figuring out where your potential readers will spend time online, you’ll want to figure out how they spend their time in your local community. From here, you can look into holding book events at these locations. For some authors, this might mean doing a reading at a local café or bar, while for others, it might mean events linked to your church or other place of worship. In fact, if you attend church regularly, this is a great way to get plugged into local opportunities for speaking events. Don’t be afraid to talk about the fact that you’re publishing a book as you go about your weekly routine!
Grassroots Book Marketing for Local Events
Look for calendars of local events and organizations, especially in areas like college towns or tourist-friendly areas. Remember, even if your book doesn’t deal specifically with local issues, people will be interested in hearing what you have to say just because you are a local author. You are representing your town on a larger stage and many locals will want to support you in doing so.
Put together a list of local venues that hold events. While local bookstores might be the most obvious, and are well worth checking out, also look for cafes, bars, breweries, local museums, exhibits at town hall, and venues specific to the subject matter of your book. You’ll want to visit and present your idea to every relevant bookstore, but be sure to rule out stores that specialize in used books, or specific areas that might not apply to yours, such as art books.
Scope out your competition by looking at websites and social media for other authors in your genre that might be aiming for a similar audience of readers. Use this as inspiration for your own events.
Whether you’re presenting your book or idea for an author event in person, over the phone, or by email, be prepared with a quick presentation. You’ll want to be able to quickly summarize the subject of your book, your target audience, and your availability for events. If you are marketing your book to bookstores, also be prepared to offer a discount.
Be prepared to spend time on this process, and don’t be discouraged by a few rejections.
Local Media and Grassroots Book Marketing
Compile a list of local and regional news and media with coverage on local businesses, arts, and entertainment. Many of these outlets will have a process in place for pitching stories. Take the time to do so, and use all your marketing skills to make your story sound worthwhile. The smaller your town, the bigger news your book will be! Everyone likes a hometown hero.
Crafting a quality press release is one of the best things you can do to attract media coverage. Make sure to include an engaging headline, provide all the relevant information on why it’s worth reading, and be sure it makes it to the right media sources.
If possible, actually meeting with a reporter is a great way to find ways to get your book into the news.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking grassroots book marketing and online efforts having nothing to do with each other. One of the challenges of online marketing is the need for an initial base of interest to use as a jumping off point. With some Amazon reviews already in place, and some engagement already on social media, any other marketing efforts on these platforms will go that much further. Ask your local fans to “like” your social media pages, and even review your book on Amazon. A local fan base will give you an advantage over authors that are relying exclusively on impersonal, online promotion in a crowded marketplace.