Most of us, who sell our print books through CreateSpace or other print on demand vendors, and our ebooks through Kindle Direct Publishing or other ebook retailers and distributors, usually focus our marketing online.
This makes sense. A lot of business and marketing happens online these days. Many of us are also bloggers with territory staked out in the digital world, and with lots of connections on social media.
In fact, social media marketing is often the beginning and end of authors’ marketing plans. From blog tours to Facebook contests to Pinterest pin parties to online press release distribution, we digital authors attempt to fully exploit the domain in which we operate.
But are you missing something?
Going Offline for Book Marketing
If all the marketing you’re doing is online, you may be missing out on lots of excellent opportunities to market your book.
Remember that our biggest effort in marketing is simply getting our books in front of enough people to give them a chance at success. You can’t get people talking about your book and, hopefully, referring it to other people in true word-of-mouth promotion, if they don’t know it exists and have never seen it. So awareness and exposure are really our biggest goals when we launch a new book.
But there are still lots of ways people get together, network, and learn about new things in the real world.
To help you think about this and get started, here’s a brief list of offline opportunities that might work for you. Even if you only use one of these suggestions, you’ll see results you couldn’t have gotten online.
8 Ideas for Offline Book Marketing for Indie Authors
1. Print books vs. eBooks—While it’s difficult to sell ebooks at an event or book signing, many people will buy a print book if they see them stacked up in front of them. After all, a book is something you can pick up and handle, and that’s often a powerful buying incentive. Print books also act as mementos of the occasion, or a way to further explore a topic that has ignited your interest.
2. Social media vs. in-person contact—I love social media and use it every day. But it’s really quite different to have a conversation with a colleague or a reader or a prospective client in person, where the centuries-old conventions of human interaction come into play and the levels of communication are much deeper. If your aim is building trust in your readers, interacting with them at events will be helpful and instructive at the same time. For instance, just recently a friend told me about something that needed to be fixed in one of my products. But I doubt she would have taken the time to write to me about it because messages like that usually seem like complaints. In person, she could deliver the message with exactly the right intonations, smiles, and gestures so the communication was nuanced and effective.
3. Giving presentations to build your platform—If you become a subject-matter expert, you’ll start to get invitations to speak to groups within your industry or field of study. These are terrific platform-building opportunities. Not only do you get to meet people you may not have known about before, you also get the implicit endorsement of the group that’s putting on the program, as well as the positive expectations attendees at your event will bring with them. Combined with this is the name recognition and awareness you’ll get from the promotion for the event that will reach many more people than will actually attend.
4. Back-of-the-room sales—Did I mention you can sell books at many of these in-person events? Well, you can, and these sales may be your most lucrative. In some cases, you can sell your books for the full retail price, so a $15 book might yield you $12 profit. In other cases, event organizers or bookstore hosts will want a 40-50% discount. But they will handle the sales transactions for you, and people at these events often buy books written by speakers as a way to remember the presentation or the overall experience they had at the event.
5. Writing for print—Remember newspapers and magazines? They are still out there, and they still have an unending need for good quality content to fill up those pages. For many people, reading an article by you in a respected industry magazine may carry a lot more weight than reading the same story on your blog. Since you’re developing content, submitting story ideas to editors at local papers or trade magazines can only multiply your readers and your exposure.
6. Offline review media—You undoubtedly included those local papers and trade magazines in your review program, right? You didn’t just rely on bloggers and online media for reviews because you know millions of people rely on these print media to make critical buying decisions and to learn about new trends in culture. Don’t overlook them.
7. Repurposing your expertise—Some authors have found running live events to be highly profitable. You might write about a subject that lends itself to workshops, where you can teach the same ideas you’ve written about, or try out new ideas to see how they work in the real world. Fiction authors do this, too, leading trips abroad and organizing writing workshops in vacation destinations.
8. Developing media contacts—Part of your job as an indie publisher is establishing media contacts, too. For fiction authors, this might involve the local papers, where you can expect to find some natural interest. For nonfiction authors there are niche publications or media outlets related to your topic, and if you write on their topic, they’re likely to be open to an approach.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned book launch parties or book signings, traditional events many authors include in their launch planning and which happen offline. But I knew you would think of those yourself.
Where would your offline marketing fit in to your book promotion plan? Or do you have some suggestions I haven’t included?
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.