In the election season here in the U.S., there is a lot of talk about “Grass-Roots” campaigns. By that, the pundits and candidates are saying that their campaign is not launched by a lot of money, media coverage or the blessing of the “Establishment” leadership. Rather, it’s a campaign where the candidate is ushered in by the local constituents themselves and word-of-mouth becomes a powerful force that thrusts the candidate into prominence.
Similarly, most authors don’t have a lot of money, access to major media coverage or are backed by the “Establishment” (publishers, major reviewers, etc..) Instead, we are like the candidate who is hoping for a grass-roots movement to help news of us and our book spread like wildfire.
Here are 8 tips to help you encourage the start of your own grass-roots movement for your own book:
1. Contact local civic organizations– Groups like the Lion’s Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, and the Chamber of Commerce are names most of us recognize. They are local and they often look for speakers to visit their clubs. But get out the yellow pages and look for other groups as well. Most libraries have “Friends of the Library” and you may be surprised at how many local civic groups are in your community. These groups are made up of your neighbors who will be excited to hear from a local “celebrity” author.
2. Take a local reporter to lunch– Many communities have small newspapers that cover local events almost exclusively. My home town of Forney, TX even has an online newspaper called The Forney Post that has mentioned me and my book many times, as well at the traditionally published Forney Messenger. By meeting with a reporter (who often is the owner of the paper as well), you might be able to help them find multiple angles that get your book into their paper.
3. Speak at your local schools– One of my favorite activities is to speak at local schools. You would be surprised at how many schools would love to have a local author speak to their students about your path to becoming a successful author. Schools want to point at local success stories to help motivate their students to reach for the stars.
5. Approach local businesses about placement– We often spend time trying to get our book into local big-box stores but their decisions often are made across the country at the store’s headquarters. But a local doughnut shop, florist, or gas station may be willing to set a few of your signed books on their counter. Imagine the power of your neighbors seeing the cover of your book many times each month!
6. Drop off your book in waiting rooms– Here’s an idea that I love. I dropped off a copy of my novel, The Samson Effect, in a doctor’s office and the patience would read it while they waited for the doctor. The doctor gave me comments that patients made about the book and I even met one to sell him signed copy! Try this with dentists, doctors, chiropractors, and any other office where patients wait. Of course, you want to get the doctor’s permission first, but most will be happy for free reading material from a local author. Be warned however, most professionals who provide public reading material will want it to be free of offensive devises, especially if children will have access to the book.
7. Volunteer at local charities– By volunteering in your community, you get name recognition and more people will come in contact with your book. People who run these organizations are usually well connected in the community. Of course, the primary relationship is to serve, not to push your book, but my main point is that by volunteering, you will expand your exposure tremendously. You may also be mentioned in the organization’s newsletter as “Tony Eldridge, Forney’s own author of the action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect…”
8. Enlist help from your church– While most churches do not like their membership list to be used as a cold-call sales list, members of your church are usually eager to help other members they have a relationship with. Don’t be shy in letting the membership, preachers, pastors, deacons, and everyone else know that you have written a book. This may lead to speaking engagements within the church and maybe even an invitation to speak at another church that your pastor has a relationship with.
The key with all eight of these ideas is establishing relationships. Remember, people in your community want to support one of their own. They want to see one of their own succeed. If you can establish strong local relationships, you might be surprised at how strong the grass-roots support for your book might help it become known far beyond your own home town.
Guest post by Tony Eldridge, who is the author of the award winning action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect, which Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the creator of Marketing Tips for Authors, a site that publishes free tips and videos to help authors learn marketing techniques for their books. You can read the serial release of The Samson Effect at http://samsoneffect.marketingtipsforauthors.com/.
Hi Paula and Tony .. great ideas .. and ones I’ll put into practice in due course .. they are so simple and cheap: start local, while you’re building your online persona .. and getting your marketing out there.
Thanks grand ideas .. Hilary
What excellent advice, thank you. I’ll bookmark this for when I have a book to sell (crosses fingers).