Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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September 4, 2023

7 Creative Ways to Boost Book Sales Locally

by Penny Sansevieri

Selling books at a fair

For most authors, doing local promotion is low on the list of things they’re doing to market their books. And while national media and nationally focused marketing strategies are important, don't overlook the power of local marketing. By targeting your community, you can tap into the support of local businesses, libraries, and media outlets, creating lasting partnerships and gaining exposure for your work.

Still not convinced? Well, consider this: a number of years ago I met a first-time author who was selling 5,000 copies of her indie published book by doing local promotion. She had her book in nearly all of her local stores, and stores that couldn’t carry the book (like her local dry cleaners) had bookmarks. Her book was literally everywhere. She said she did that because she really wasn’t sure what else to do to promote her book.

Local media loves their local celebrities – and as an author, you’re one of the celebs local media loves. It’s also a great way to get your feet wet doing media and a fantastic way to add media appearances to your website. If you want to build into national media appearances, starting on a local level can be a great way to do that. So where do you start? Let’s dig in!

1. Partner with Local Businesses

One effective way to promote your book locally is by partnering with local businesses. Consider reaching out to specialty stores, such as gift shops, boutiques, or even hardware stores, that align with your book's theme or target audience. These businesses may be open to hosting an event or showcasing your book in their store. By collaborating with them, you can reach a new audience and benefit from their existing customer base.

Another option is to approach local cooperative workplaces like WeWork or Regus. These spaces often host weekly events and are constantly seeking new speakers. Pitch a workshop, webinar, or paid event related to your book's content, or negotiate to have your book prominently displayed within the workspace. These partnerships can provide valuable exposure and networking opportunities.

2. Tap into the Power of Local Libraries

Libraries are an excellent resource for self-published authors. Reach out to your local librarians and inquire about hosting an event or workshop. While you may need to navigate the library's administrative process, establishing a personal connection with the librarians can go a long way in securing an opportunity to promote your book within the branch. Additionally, consider leaving copies of your book at the library for potential readers to discover.

If you're unable to visit the library in person, you can also reach out to librarians via email. Use this opportunity to introduce yourself, provide a brief summary of your book, and express your interest in collaborating on an event or showcasing your book in some capacity. Remember, building relationships with librarians is crucial for gaining visibility within the local literary community.

3. Engage with Local Indie Bookstores

Supporting local independent bookstores not only benefits your community but also provides an avenue for promoting your book. Research and identify independent bookstores in your area and approach them with a proposal. Offer to host a book signing, reading, or Q&A session at their store. This can attract both loyal customers of the bookstore and new readers interested in discovering local authors.

To increase your chances of success, do some background research on the bookstore's audience and tailor your pitch accordingly. Highlight how your book aligns with their readers' interests and emphasize the unique value you bring as a local author. Building relationships with independent bookstores can lead to ongoing partnerships and increased visibility within the literary community.

4. Explore Opportunities at Local Festivals and Street Fairs

Participating in local festivals and street fairs can be a fun and effective way to sell your books. Look for events in your area that attract a diverse range of attendees and have a strong social media presence or reputation for high attendance. Consider sharing a booth with other local authors to increase visibility and attract more visitors.

When setting up your booth, make sure to create an engaging display that showcases your book and captures people's attention. Offer autographed copies as unique gifts, and don't forget to bring some fun swag items such as bookmarks or character trading cards to distribute. These small tokens can serve as reminders of your book and generate interest among potential readers.

5. Target Niche Markets: Wineries and Specialty Stores

Don't limit yourself to traditional book-selling venues. Think outside the box and explore niche markets that align with your book's theme or target audience. Wineries, for example, can be a unique and enjoyable setting for book events. Reach out to wineries in your area and propose collaborating on an event during their slower hours. This partnership can attract wine enthusiasts who may also be interested in literature.

Additionally, consider specialty stores that cater to specific hobbies or interests related to your book. Whether it's a card store, cookware store, or computer store, find a store that resonates with your book's content and approach the owners with a proposal. Offer your book on consignment or negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement. These partnerships can help you reach a targeted audience and create memorable experiences for potential readers.

6. Harness the Power of Local Meetups and Book Clubs

Local meetups and book clubs provide an excellent opportunity to connect with readers who are actively seeking new books and authors. Utilize online platforms like Meetup to find local book clubs in your area and reach out to their organizers. Offer to do a talk or presentation, or suggest your book as a club selection. By participating in these gatherings, you can engage with passionate readers and gain valuable insights into their preferences.

Remember to bring copies of your book to these events, and consider offering special discounts or incentives for attendees. Building relationships with local book clubs can lead to long-term support and word-of-mouth recommendations, as members often share their favorite reads with friends and family.

7. Leverage Local Media and Establish Yourself as a Local Celebrity

Local media outlets are always interested in highlighting local talent, making them an invaluable resource for self-published authors. Start by pitching your story or book to local newspapers, magazines, radio stations, or TV channels. Craft a compelling pitch that showcases the unique aspects of your book and emphasizes your local connection.

When approaching the media, focus on the human interest angle of your story. Highlight any local ties, personal anecdotes, or community impact your book may have. Offering exclusive interviews, guest articles, or book giveaways can also capture media attention and generate buzz around your work.

Remember, building a local brand presence takes time and effort. Attend other author events in your area to gain inspiration and connect with like-minded individuals. By establishing yourself as a local celebrity, you can foster lasting relationships within your community and create a strong support network for your book marketing efforts. When it comes to book marketing, don't underestimate the power of local outreach. By targeting your community through partnerships, events, and media exposure, you can create lasting connections and boost your book sales. Embrace the creativity and opportunities that come with local marketing, and watch your author brand flourish within your region. Remember, building a local presence is just the beginning of a successful journey as a self-published author.

Have you tried to sell locally? What have you tried?

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About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.

She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com

5 comments on “7 Creative Ways to Boost Book Sales Locally”

  1. Good ideas here. I've only done a couple of things. I appeared on local radio during the September Festival. It didn't generate many, if any, sales, though. I also submitted a media post to the local paper in the town where I was born and grew up. It appeared in the paper, so my cousin told me, but again, didn't generate an increase in sales. I must have been doing it wrong, somehow.
    I've considered donating books to my local library, but not got around to it yet.
    The truth is, I like so many of us, don't like the personal promotion. Also, I find it difficult to find a 'hook' to the local area. My books are fantasy and historical. The historical novels are set in the north of England, and deal with the Romans and the Vikings. Not much link with here, but my next one might be because it starts with the Battle of Hastings, just up the road.

  2. My book is set on Toronto Island so I sold my books during their winter boutique sale. I will be doing a program for the library and have done an author tour. These have give me moderate sales. They they take time and energy but I enjoy them if they are spaced out.

  3. Thanks, Penny. These are some great ideas. I never would have thought about a local winery. I have done a local science fiction convention and I donate my book to local little libraries in the area. Now it's a case of boosting the courage of this introvert and actually doing some more promotions in my home town.

  4. These are fun ideas! We had a shipping store that sold gift books. They sold one of my clients' poetry books. My favorite part was that they didn't ask for consignment. They bought them outright which made things easier.

  5. It's not always easy locally--here--unless you have a contact.

    BN doesn't want you, no local indies in our county--regional ones are tricky, library tends to favor those with an book in an imprint of the big five (unless you have a connection), etc...

    I did have luck with a local podcast.

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