1. Charity Events
Mythikas Island series was put up for the silent auction, then they mentioned that I would have additional books for sale at the end of the event and would be happy to sign the book for the winner. The selling of books after the auction was their idea. I did not sell a large volume, but did gain a few fans. The second year I overhead someone asking if the author would be back because they wanted the next book in the series. I have been asked back every year since. Several people have approached me because they would like to write books. I have cards advertising my Story Building Blocks series on hand to give them. Seek out local charity events to see if they would be interested in accepting your books as a donation to their fundraiser. If the reception is enthusiastic, you could also offer to take books to sell. You could offer to donate a portion, or even all, of your sales to the charity. You can gain fans and give back to the community at the same time.
2. Local Craft Sales
I make jewelry as a hobby and set up a booth at several craft events to sell my wares. I put my books out too. I sold an equal amount of both. Consider setting up a booth at a farmer's market, local Arts in the Park event, or holiday sale venue. Several local authors set up at the Home and Garden show. Cajole writer friends to join you to make it more fun. After all, you will require someone to man the booth when you need to use the loo and get food. The rental fee for booth space is usually quite reasonable. I paid $35 to $50 for each event. If there are multiple authors, take one cash box and give receipts. You can tally each person's take at the end. If someone has a credit card reader, all the better. I did not have one, but would have sold more if I had had the capacity to run credit cards. Even savvy Girl Scouts have Square Readers for their smart phones these days. If you write YA or Middle Grade, you could connect with local schools or the library to see if they have craft or book events.
3. Writing Conferences
I have attended the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana in the past and my Story Building Block series sold well there. They also offer attendees' fiction books for sale. This is run by a bookstore that receives a commission percentage, in this case 10%. I leave promotional materials with the book display in case the attendees are not in a position to buy at that moment. Also, anything you can do to benefit other writers will help nudge them to consider your books. In the case of nonfiction, I offered free writing tools on my website. You could have a drawing. Take a bowl or decorative vase and have people drop their contact information inside, then announce the winner at a time convenient to the conference planners or contact the winner by email. This is also a way for authors to build an e-mail list. A lot of promotional materials end up in File 13 after the conference, so I would not invest an exorbitant amount in gimmicks and gadgets. The most useful marketing materials are pens, Post-Its, and colored tabs for marking pages. You could also make up a writer's gift basket and raffle it, if allowed.
4. Radio Podcasts
I was asked by Red River Writers to read the first chapter of Mythikas Island Book I: Diana on a podcast aired on Blog Talk Radio. I am not a natural public speaker and my nerves showed, but it was an interesting way to promote the series. I belonged to Women Writing for Change when I lived in Cincinnati. I read several flash fiction pieces on their radio show. Research writing podcasters and radio shows to see if you can be included in their roster. You could also research local literary events with open mike nights. These are usually poetry-related, but you may be allowed to include a particularly entertaining/intriguing snippet from your book. You could read a flash fiction piece or poem instead and mention your novels.
5. Group Marketing
Join writing organizations such as Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, or Romance Writers of America. They all have social medial presences and could offer opportunities for you to promote your work. Banding together with other authors in your genre to cross promote is one of the strongest ways to market. Look for groups on Facebook or other social media sites for your genre, fan sites as well as other writers. After all, mystery writers usually love to read other mystery writers, etc. Read the group's mission statement carefully to see if, or how, you are allowed to promote. Most have a document where you can list your titles or blog. Simply getting to know other writers and fans of your genre will increase the odds of them being interested in your work.The more beneficial you can be to others, the more good will you spread.
There are many literary festivals across the nation. If you don't mind traveling, you could purchase a booth and sell your books. Again, take a friend or two to help with the logistics of getting things set up and to defray the cost. A road trip with your crit group or writing buddies could be a blast, even if you don't sell a single book. Take cards advertising your books. Many will end up in File 13 or fluttering down a city street. You never know. A book lover might pick it up. Note, I do not encourage littering. But come to think of it, there is no reason you couldn't leave advertising materials in strategic places, like a table at the library.
When it comes to promotion in a market overcrowded with product, a little imagination goes a long way.
Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.