Most of us who are trying to market books are on very tight budgets these days so it’s imperative to find ways to get the word out without spending big bucks.
But just what is cross promotion and how can it work for your book, you ask? Well, here are some of the basics and two examples that will perhaps get your creative juices flowing.
Cross promotion is a specific marketing tactic in which two businesses or people team up to promote each other’s products. The most important aspect is that you know your target audience and that you find someone with a similar audience or an audience with a related interest. I see authors who team up with other authors as a way of cross promotion-but your plan doesn’t really have to involve books at all.
Back when my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray was new, I decided it would be interesting to try to reach equine enthusiasts as a secondary market. This audience was not a crucial one, but a horse owned by the main character plays a major part in the plotline, which I figured could intrigue horse lovers. After contacting the Equine Art Guild, I received a handful of responses from artists willing to do a cross promotion with me. I picked one who specializes in equine and animal portraiture, and found that she already had a piece of art that resembled the equine character in my book (named Justus).
In addition to placing information on her website about my book (and me doing the same for her), this artist also created an entire Justus store on Cafepress which helps get the word out about her art and helps me by showcasing a character in my book. We also incorporated each other’s contact information on all our promotional material, including “Justus” greeting cards that I had printed to give out at book signings.
The great thing about cross promotion is it doesn’t have to cost anything to reach a new audience. This artist’s artwork is now being seen at the festivals and book signings I attend, and my book is being seen at art shows and horse events she attends. There was no money involved or exchanged. We simply worked together to promote each other’s products.
Another cross-promotional project I worked on involves the trailers for my Civil War novels. Since authentic-looking Civil War stock art is a little hard to come by, I requested permission to use the artwork of renowned Civil War artist Dale Gallon for Shades of Gray’s video. Mr. Gallon not only gave me permission, he promoted the video on his blog and linked his main website to mine, helping me to reach a whole new, world-wide audience of Civil War enthusiasts.
No author has the time or money to reach all of their books’ potential audiences. Concentrate your energy on a small, defined group, and then think of ways to reach secondary and related audiences without expending a lot of time-or money. Don’t be afraid to think big. You may be surprised at how willing others are to work with you if you have a quality product.
Jessica James is the author of two award-winning Civil War novels. Noble Cause, her latest, just received the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction. Learn more at http://www.jessicajamesbooks.com/