Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Local Promo

First of all, I want to thank Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi at The Bookshelf Muse for giving me the opportunity to give away one of their insightful 1000 word critiques (and for honoring me as a writing hero!) The randomly-chosen winner of the critique is Rosalyn! Thanks to everyone who entered. :)

Local promotion is an aspect of marketing that I usualmatthews, ncly neglect.

I doubt I’m the only one, either. I’ve talked to plenty of writers who don’t enjoy book signings, giving book talks, or doing interviews. And it’s true that doing local promo means that you’re deliberately drawing attention to yourself among people you know.

I feel the same way. But I’ve also found that when I do local promo, it leads to a spike in sales.

Recently I spoke to a local service organization. Actually, it wasn’t even originally my idea—my North Carolina writer friend Diane Wolfe had needed to cancel and suggested that I fill in.

The talk went really well. It was a great group of people, I had a nice time. I thanked them for letting me come, left, and didn’t think anymore about it.

Until a week later. I was at a church class and one of the ladies there made an announcement before the class started. “I know something about Elizabeth.”

Of course, I knew what she had to mean---there’s nothing else about me that’s particularly interesting. But I had no idea how she knew.

Sure enough, her husband had been in attendance at my talk. And the organization had also sent out an email newsletter about my visit, with a bio and my books mentioned.

And you know, everyone in the class seemed really interested. They even jotted down my pen name and some book titles. They, of course, asked why I’d never mentioned it before (I’ve been in the class a couple of years, at least).

But writing is frequently something that doesn’t come up in conversation. Which is a good reason why we should keep doing these kinds of events.

We should also interview or suggest stories to our local paper—and the more local the paper is, the better. Does your town have one of those free, weekly newspapers? Target them, for sure. I’ve found they’ve got a great readership. Who knew?

Don’t forget your alumni magazine, either. I’m not one to talk, because I did forget it, but a professor at my college somehow made the connection between me and the school and put an article in the magazine. Soon I had old college friends emailing me that they’d bought some of my books. And the college asked me to talk to the English classes there in March.

I’m writing this post as a reminder to me, too—do local promo. Even if it makes me uncomfortable.

Do you do signings, lectures, or interviews locally? How has that worked for you?

Hope my American friends have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! And just a note that I’ll be a Margot Kinberg’s blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, on Friday, talking about cozy mysteries.