You've heard of the show Toddlers and Tiaras. If you've seen the show, then you know what I mean by "glitz". These are the pageants where kids get self-tanners, false teeth (known as flippers) and generally contain more glitter than a Barbie doll factory. The mantra "Go big or go home" is pretty common.
When some authors start to think about marketing, they get overwhelmed with the full-glitz version. Hearts palpitate with the thought of banner ads, video trailers, glossy bookmarks, and swag. Their palms get sweaty contemplating book signings, twitter chat parties, and 50-stop blog tours. With so many options, and many of them costing in the hundreds (or thousands), no wonder so many authors throw their hands up.
But marketing doesn't have to be about flashing countdown widgets and your book covers slapped on tote bags. Here are a few simple (and inexpensive) tips to get you started on a No-Glitz marketing plan.
Donate your book to the library
Books are a library's bread and butter, so free books are like free bread and butter. Who doesn't love free food? Not sure if your library will take your book? Ask them. I promise librarians are super nice and they are even nicer to people who want to help them. Only have an ebook? More libraries are cultivating e-catalogs all the time. See if you can get yours added.
If your library doesn't accept donations, that's not the end of the road. Check out this great article from ALA (American Library Association) about ways you can donate your books. And don't stop with your public library. If it's appropriate, make donations to locals schools or nursing homes.
Offer to teach a workshop for the library or local writer's group
I'll admit that this one is going to take a bit more effort than walking your book down to the library. But here's the deal: You wrote a book. A whole book, with words and chapters, and more words. Do you have any idea how many people want to write a book and never get past page five? Whether you realize it or not, you have a lot of knowledge to offer others.
Not only is teaching a workshop a great way to build connections, you can potentially make some sales. At the minimum, bring a half-sheet flyer that tells people who you are and where they can buy your book. You might ask if you can bring copies for attendees to buy (which you will sign). Also, ask attendees to sign up for your newsletter so they can get access to even more of your knowledge.
Use your local media
This can be difficult if you live in Los Angeles, but most of us don't. I happen to live in a town that is happy to cover any news you throw at them. And they send reporters to everything. Everything. So if you're going to all the trouble of teaching a workshop, don't forget to tell the paper about it. A one page press release about the workshop should do the trick. If you're lucky, they'll add your event to the calendar. If you're really lucky, they'll write a small article about it. If you're super lucky, they'll reach out to you and want to do a feature about you and your books.
But here's the deal, they'll have no idea you or your workshop exist if you don't tell them. Even if you aren't doing a workshop, send them a press release about your book. Maybe they ignore you; it could happen. But maybe it's a slow news week and you get a feature column with your picture and your shiny new book showing up in everyone's homes.
Love on your books stores
If you're lucky enough to have your book sold in a local bookstore, you need to take advantage. Contact the manager and ask if there's a good time you can come in to sign stock. You don't even have to talk to anyone while you're there. Just go in and sign stock. Who knows. They may just pull your fancy new author signed copies out to display on a special table.
And while you're there, ask the owner/manager if there is anything you can do to help them sell more copies. Remember, you have a mutual goal here. Selling copies of your book makes both of you money. They might have some ideas or invite you to come up with something. Either way, you've started the conversation and left the door open for continued mutual profits.
Reach out to one new person a week
Blog tours can be amazingly effective if done the right way, but I get that they can be a lot of work. I understand that for some authors, the idea of broadcasting themselves gives them nightmares. If this is you, don't do a blog tour. Seriously. Don't do it.
But that doesn't mean you can sit back either. Instead of contacting 50 bloggers to ask for a review, once a week, reach out to someone you don't know and start a conversation. Maybe reach out to a book blogger you respect and thank them for a review you found helpful. And then tell them about your book and why you think they might enjoy it. Make a new friend on twitter or facebook. Don't open with a pitch, just get to know them. Thank a reader who left you a super nice review on Goodreads. Ask if you can post a snippet of it on your site and link back to their own site/review.
You don't need to walk about like a broken record of Please Buy My Book by The Desperate Authors Club. Just make a new friend once per week. Reach out into the vast interwebs and (virtually) touch someone else. You never know when your new friend will be the perfect contact to get your book more exposure.
Don't stop there
These are just a few ideas, but I bet you could come up with twice this many if you sat down and really thought about it. Marketing your books doesn't mean turning into an extroverted, money-bagged, word monger. Find your comfort level, wipe the glitter out of your eye, and market your book.
Do you have other "No Glitz" marketing ideas? What's the easiest, most successful way you've marketing your book? Tell us about it in the comments.