Monday, September 14, 2015

Go Local with Your Book Marketing

There’s a saying: Go big, or go home.

That’s great to say if your goal is to pump someone up, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with “going small.”

Going small can actually help you in many activities, to include marketing your book.

Buy Local image by Stuart Miles with FreeDigitalPhotos

If you want to market your book, start in your own backyard.

Why go local when marketing your book?

Well, you know the area, you more than likely already know people who could be a benefit to you and your book, and you might find yourself paying little to nothing for the endeavor!

Where do you start when “going local”?

There are several places, depending on your hometown:

Contact Local Media, Big and Small

When I first moved to SW Louisiana to pursue my MFA, I didn’t tell people that I was a published author (long short story). When it was discovered, almost immediately, I was being interviewed for our local newspaper. The press would be good for not only me as the author, but also the university and the program. You can send a press release and a book to the editor of the newspaper section dedicated to arts and entertainment. You can delve into your book and find themes and topics to write short pieces for and pitch them to local newspapers. If your town has alternative papers, check them out, too. Here, we have a few alts that feature art and entertainment and desire to spotlight local talent.

Radio Stations
Yes, we are in the digital age; however, radio stations (and newspapers for that matter) still matter when it comes to finding venues to market your book. Just like local newspapers and their positive attitude toward spotlighting local talent, radio stations are a great place to pitch your book or specific themes and topics from your book for a possible on-air interview (or even just a short promo by one of the DJs).

TV Stations
Local TV stations often have a segment where they spotlight hometown citizens who are making moves in the area. Learning about your local TV stations, finding contact info and info regarding those specific segments can help you to make a pitch to each station.

Contact Schools
If you write children’s fiction or YA fiction, why not try to contact area schools about conducting a creative writing presentation? Or an after-school writing activity? Or a talk about the importance of writing in people’s lives? Or… whatever… the activity would give you the opportunity to connect with your specific audience, to connect with your community, and to hand out flyers, business cards, and other marketing materials to students, who may actually remember to give them to their parents.

Even if you don’t write children’s or YA fiction, you can consider contacting both local schools and universities. Many universities have leisure learning or continuing education programs, and they are almost always looking for new classes to offer. Perhaps you could pitch teaching a writing class, and by doing so, you’d make a little money from the teaching and possible money from having students buy your literary wares.

Contact Bookstores and Libraries, Big and Small
Yes, getting into Barnes & Noble is a great thing, but don’t look down at those local bookstores because they are small enough for you to get to know the owner, build a rapport, get your book into the store, and perhaps more easily create opportunities to speak and hold events at the store. Libraries often have reading events, where someone—whether author or library employee or volunteer—will read a book and have discussions. You’re a local talent; why not contact your libraries about having a reading event? And when you get that event, bring those marketing materials… and a couple of books… and a great pen to write your autograph.

Contact Those Places Outside of the “Norm”
Does your town have an art/music/entertainment scene? Here in Downtown Lake Charles, LA, we have a growing spot where venues host art, music, and other entertainment. Here, and throughout the city, there are coffee shops and local stores that hold readings and that sell products from local merchants. There are always places outside of the typical places one might market a book to; find them and initiate contact.

If you want to get your book into readers’ hands, it won’t hurt to go local.

Get out there, smile, make nice, and get to learn about the people and places around you so that you can market your book locally…and successfully.

Are you marketing locally? If so, what activities have been successful for you?

Creative Passionista Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her author website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment.


  1. thanks for the advice. I live in a small town. I have signed at our library before, but not very many attended :o( We don't have a book store, but the library and a local florist allow you to display your books for sale. Although the library changed their policy and now only has a large poster in the foyer with local books listed and you have to ask to see the book. I think this has drastically cut down on the people actually buying the books. Another way to sell your books is at local craft shows.

    1. That is a smart one, too, Janet, the craft shows. I notice that we have a few craft shows here, and we also have the farmers market every week, and though most people sell produce there, there are some who sell craft items and art... why not books?

  2. Good ideas, BUT, I couldn't even get our local library--a system of seven libraries--to respond to the "We Love Libraries" $1000 gift from Sisters in Crime. Our local newspaper doesn't do reviews anymore, but I think I will contact them now that I won a Kindle Press contract. The idea of getting turned down doesn't appeal to me, but I think I'll do it anyway.

    1. Definitely do it, Polly! That contract is a definite plus to helping you out.

  3. What you call small, Shon, I call BIG ... anything beyond my basement is a big deal to moi.

  4. You do have a better chance of getting a book event at a local indy store than B&N. However, you could band with other authors to host your own local book event. Also, I've seen books that tie in to specific areas. I have seen several opportunities as I travel. If a book is set in a particular town, some of the gift and other stores will carry it because it features the town. Also even stores like B&N have a section for local authors. As long as your book is available through Ingram or Baker & Taylor and orderable through their system, you could try to sweet talk them into carrying a copy or two.

  5. I do some local marketing though our newspaper doesn't give the attention to local writers like it used to do.
    Susan Says

    1. I've noticed that a bit, too, Susan. Makes it even more important that we as writers try to find those unique, engaging threads of our works that will make us the exception to the current rule.

  6. I've been lucky to get some TV, radio and newspaper attention in East Texas where I live. Small towns respond more to local author news than larger ones. I have also set up booths at art fairs and other street fairs to sell books and meet people. That has all helped get some attention for my books. Great tips, Shon.

    1. Thank you, Maryann! I think the main goal is to force ourselves to get out there and meet and greet and tell people about our wares.

  7. I like the last suggestion best because it was my focus when selling books for Random House - cookbooks in cooking stories, kidlit in toy stores, etc. So for me, key themes in my stories also point directions for marketing opportunities. For example, my mystery books have an organic rural farm theme, so a logical place to find my market is literally, at farmers markets. Good post, Shon.

  8. I have participated in group signings in both indie and chain bookstores, as well as street fairs. None of these proved particularly profitable, but I didn't do good follow-up like I should have to keep any of those balls rolling. Lesson finally learned.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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