Monday, September 7, 2015

Marketing & Selling in Unusual Venues

For us “creatives”, putting on a marketing hat may be the most difficult part of the book process.

Many people mistakenly think that selling and marketing are the same. They aren't. Selling is the “instant gratification” we all like—you hand someone a book and they hand you money.


Marketing is a little like planting seeds in your garden. You put them out there and water and fertilize and you hope they will bear fruit (or vegetables.) With marketing you are putting your name or your books out there and maybe some people will buy it right away and maybe two years from now, someone will come across your name and decide to buy. You may not be able to tell how many sales you make from a website or a virtual book tour until you receive a royalty check from your publisher.

Global management consultant Alan Weiss says, "There is no music if you don‘t blow your own horn."

Like it or not, these days authors HAVE to get involved in the business side of publishing. And I’ve discovered ironically, bookstores are not necessarily the best place to sell your books!

Probably the most unusual outlet for my books have been local feed and ranch supply stores. My books are about rodeo, ranching, cowgirls (and boys), so I’ve done well with signing and sales in this venue. Another time, I got permission to set up a table at a local dinner theatre production called “Cowgirls.”


One author acquaintance says she keeps a trunk full of books and when she’s traveling, she’ll pull into a parking lot of a big box store, open the trunk and sell books. (I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend that, but it takes guts to put yourself out there!) Another author stood on a busy street corner near a popular park to sell his books.

Others will dress in period costumes and do presentations at events, at Rotary Club or Soroptimists meetings. Does your book have recipes or center around food somehow? Do a signing/presentation at a kitchen store. Is there a theme around a medical condition? Do a signing/presentation at a support group meeting.


It’s all a matter of finding a niche and trying different things. Put on your “ideas” hat and do some brainstorming about your book.

What have you tried that is unusual and worked for you?

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series is Dare to Dream, and a non-fiction book Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women, is also available. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.

4 comments :

  1. The only place I've done a promotion other than a bookstore was at a coffee shop. It was fun and we had lots of delicious coffee and tea.

    Susan Says

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  2. You are so right about finding that niche, Heidi.The more specific a topic - cowgirls - the better at finding those places to hold a signing. I wonder if I could do one at the Dallas Police Department. LOL

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  3. Coffee shops can be fun! And yes, Maryann, do they have a police benevolence group or something like that where you could do a presentation?

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  4. You've struck a chord, Heidi. Marketing is my weakest link, and I find every excuse in the world to avoid it. However, the time has passed when avoidance is an option -- thank you for rattling my cage and unlocking the door.

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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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