Positive Writer

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15 Clever Offline Marketing Ideas for Authors You’ll Want to Use!

Note: This is a guest post by Shayla Eaton, an expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric coach, she works one-on-one with self-published authors, having edited nearly three hundred books. She is the owner of Curiouser Editing, where she offers top-notch publishing guidance for authors and their books, and the president of the Curiouser Author Society, an exclusive community for serious indie authors.

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My eyes are starting to bleed from all this online marketing. (Yes, I know you’re reading this online right now, but hear me out.)

We crave offline connections—real interactions with . . . what are they called again? Humans!

And if you’re an author, you know how difficult it is to market your book. Sometimes, posting about it on Twitter or Facebook is like whispering in a crowded room.

Nobody’s gonna hear you.

That’s why I listed these 15 clever marketing ideas for authors—all offline.

Give your eyes a break, and try them out.

  1. Sponsor an event.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: connect with your community. Community means more book ambassadors (loyal readers who fangirl over your book). And the best way to get in touch with your community is by sponsoring an event. This can be a sports team, a company picnic, or a nonprofit event.

An author sponsoring a community event? You’ll be the talk of the town, suga!

  1. Speak to an audience.

Obviously, a must for nonfiction authors. Being a keynote speaker presents you as an authority on a topic—which is the main reason for delving into the nonfiction genre. Choose a topic from your book to speak on and wow the crowd.

If you’re a fiction author, why not speak to a Creative Writing class at a local college? And don’t forget to put your books in the back of the room for your audience.

  1. Purchase bookish promo items.

From bookmarks to magnets to bookish business cards, there are endless possibilities. If you’re a children’s or fiction author, order customized coffee mugs with your characters on it. How about tote bags, pillow cases, T-shirts, pens, USBs, and notebooks? Get creative!

*The photo above was taken by Positive Writer’s own Bryan Hutchinson, he took the photo in the souvenir shop of the museum Mauritshuis in Holland, Den Haag, where he viewed “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by the great Johannes Vermeer. Create delightful souvenirs for your work, too.

  1. Throw a party. Or two.

Launch parties are a big deal for authors, so who says you have to be limited to one? Invite the whole town (remember: community). You’ll need a press release, a venue, and tons of food. And a pen to sign all those books!

  1. Start an author network.

While author networks are all over the net, you can have your own right in your town. What a great way for authors in your area to connect! Indies need support, and this is a wonderful way to collaborate, vent, and promote. Choose a hispter-ish cafe and get to networking!

  1. Befriend relevant journalists.

Notice how this comes before “Publish a press release.” If you want to avoid the press release slush pile, befriend a journalist. Get to know the journalist, and you might even have an in for local newspaper and television interviews. Sa-weet!

  1. Publish a press release.

How will people outside of the online world know about your book . . . if you don’t tell them? A press release can be used to notify the public about your book signing, library reading, and local TV interview. Be sure to abide by AP Style.

  1. Donate bookmarks to a local library.

Bookmarks are seriously cheap. Order a bazillion of them for marketing purposes and donate a bundle to your local library. Don’t forget to put a QR scanner on there to track how well this marketing tactic is working.

  1. Wear your book.

Got some fanciful characters you want to show off? Put ’em on your shirt! Just because you’re not a New York Times bestselling author doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with screenprinting.

  1. Get a newspaper column.

You are a writer after all. See if your newspaper will give you your own column. You could even have an “Ask the Author” column specific to self-publishing, writing, or grammar.

  1. Be interviewed at your book’s setting.

A very fun one for fiction authors! What is the setting of your book? Can you go there and be interviewed by their local paper or anchorperson? You can talk about why you chose that setting and its importance in the novel. If your book is set in a deep, dark jungle, then maybe reconsider this one.

  1. Give away bookish candles.

You smell that? It’s called marketing. Or whatever the name of your character is. Seriously: Book Scents creates candles that smell like your book or character. Talk about a memorable giveaway product or promotional item.

While this would require some online activity, the offline results are priceless.

  1. Start a book club or writing workshop.

The more I research this, the more I find that readers want book clubs again. They want to sit around in a coffee shop and talk about books. You can even feature your book one month!

Writing workshops are also a must. You are an author, you know. You can teach novices how to go from nada to ta-da!

  1. Take part in a library or coffee shop reading.

Library readings are great for children’s authors, but they aren’t limited to fun, illustrative pieces. If your book is more poetic or memoir-centric, then a coffee shop would be a great place to have a reading. (Cue bongos and snapping.)

  1. Think outside of the box with a fringe festival.

One of the best ideas I’ve seen in my research is fringe festivals from an article on the Digital Pubbing website. Use a few scenes from your novel and turn them into a play. That, my friend, is called a theater fringe festival. Think of all the possibilities!

Digital Pubbing outlines some of the benefits in their article:

  • mentions and listings in show programs
  • reviews from theater critics
  • pull quotes
  • appearing on the first page of Google search results
  • ticket sales

Honorable offline marketing mentions:

  • Sell your book at a trade show, book fair, festival, or farmer’s market.
  • Offer your book as a prize at a charity event, community party, etc.
  • Leave business cards with your tip at a restaurant.
  • Get your book in a local bookstore, coffee shop, or boutique.
  • Get a local paper interview.
  • Get a local TV show interview.

What did I miss? What are some of your favorite offline marketing tactics? Share them in the comments to help other authors succeed offline!

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

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  • Excellent tips! So far I’ve done #3, #4, #7 and #8. Looks like I have some more work to do! Especially with wearing my book, what an awesome idea!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thank you so much for reading, Angela! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. —Shayla

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    This is extremely insightful – thank you <3

    Kit

    • Curiouser Editing

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you for reading! —Shayla

  • Great tips! I would love to know how to implement some of these before you’ve written your book.

    • Curiouser Editing

      Thanks for reading, Rebecca! Can you elaborate a little more? As in, how to, say, speak at a conference or get interviews before you’ve written the book or published it? —Shayla

      • Maybe my question is more general, as in, how to promote yourself as a writer before you’ve published a book. How do you promote yourself as a blogger (without a huge audience) without it sounding like it’s some hobby that you do when you’re bored? Perhaps looking for relevance even if you don’t have that book under your belt.

        • If you don’t mind me stepping in here to comment on this one..

          Rebecca, you might want to start out doing what you are already doing and getting acquainted with blogs out there in your niche and start looking for guest blogging opportunities. Unfortunately, to those in the daily world where you live, they might not get what you are doing or why you are doing it, I would not seek that kind of relevance because you might never get it. You already are relevant and your writing matters, but you have to believe that and when you do, your readers will feel connected to your confidence. Although this post is about off line marketing, for you a good place to start is with a blog and build your platform.

          • Thank you for your input Bryan. This writer’s life is tricky to nail down. I’m in the middle of exactly what you are writing about. Sometimes it feels like there are so many things that need to be done to “make it” but knowing which way to turn first is tricky. Always start with writing, but the rest can feel overwhelming.

          • You’re not the only one. And honestly, just when I think I’ve got it figured out, something else catches me by surprise. Most importantly, though, build your platform – that’s almost more important than actually writing. 🙂

        • Curiouser Editing

          I agree wholeheartedly with what Bryan said. I probably couldn’t have said it better.

  • Zena Briggs

    Wow. Thanks. More suggestions:
    -how about reading an exert at a local book store?

    – if you write books for children/young adults, you can volunteer for Reading Is Fundamental and give out free books to children at shelters, schools? Maybe, one of the books could be yours, or give a mini writing workshop using your book for guidelines, include cookie/juice/milk maybe?
    -Wonder if you can give a work shop for adults at shelters?
    -If you wrote a book about healing trauma, i.e. The Rhino Who Swallowed the Storm, by LeVar Burton for example, you can create arts/crafts to relate to the book and introduce it at Windows Between Worlds, which uses art as a healing tool.

    • Curiouser Editing

      These are all wonderful suggestions too, Zena! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. —Shayla

  • What CLEVER ideas, Shayla. You’re so right about the Book Clubs, too. My debut novel has been out 3.5 months and I’ve been to six Book Clubs since that times…one was even halfway across the US, via Skype! They’re so fun because these folks treated me like I was a literary goddess! After so many hours alone with my laptop, this has been fabulous!

    • Curiouser Editing

      Wonderful, Marcy! I’m so glad to hear that book clubs have been a good choice for you. —Shayla

  • How about selling it on a street corner? “STARVING ARTIST. NEEDS $25 FOR PRINTER CARTRIDGE”

    • Curiouser Editing

      Haha! Well, there’s an idea.

  • Seriously..thank you so much for this! I’m launching my book in a month and found some great nuggets of insight on here.

    • Curiouser Editing

      I am so glad you enjoyed the article. I hope it helps! —Shayla

  • Heather

    Thank you, thank you , thank you! I crave real life interaction. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend from high school. She has published 11 books and it was so great to talk with her. I am also going to our local library this weekend to hear another author’s book reading.

    • Curiouser Editing

      That is wonderful! I love this. —Shayla

  • Karen Sargent

    LOVE. LOVE this. Thanks for sharing…and speedy recovery!

  • Sowmya Suresh

    I think talent should speak for itself. You shouldn’t have to resort to desperate gimmicks like ‘wear your characters’!

  • Mary Parkinson

    Thanks for the tips. Cheap Drop Cards Here- http://bit.ly/2caC5vZ