Supporting the Independent Author
In the November 2010 issue I gave a sampling of things book clubs could do to help support independent and/or self- published authors. Over the past week I have read
several blogs and social media postings about the lack of interest by publishing houses given to authors who are not writing in genres that are deemed hot! This makes supporting authors who are writing stories you enjoy, even more important.
The following suggestions are not limited to just book clubs, they can be used by anyone. Although book clubs play a pivotal role in our success, we also need the support of family, friends, co-workers, the community, and avid readers everywhere.
Facebook has over 500 million subscribers. That's more than the number of people who completed the 2010 U.S. Census. They are the leader in social networking., but there are 100's of social media sites out there and the numbers are growing daily. With today's technology we can post something on one site and have it automatically feed to numerous other sites. So not only do we have word of mouth but with the push of a button we can share information with hundreds if not thousands of people.
- Post what you are reading on social media
- "Like," "Share," "Repost," "Retweet," etc. If you see a post about a book, event, blog or anything an author has written, click the like button, comment, or retweet. It's been proven that people are more inclined to read something if someone else has acknowlegded it.
- Take a photo holding a book you have read and in the caption write a brief review or recommendation, then share on your social pages. You can also make this your profile picture for an hour, a day, or longer.
- If the author's website has a social media toolbar use the features to share the website information.
- Newsletters like the one you are reading now, can be shared. With Constant Contact, emails cannot be captured. The host will only know it was forwarded but never who the recipient(s) are.
- Write Reviews for books you have read. Authors want to know what you think. Amazon, Goodreads, and Shefari, to name a few, are good sites to post reviews; but also check the authors website to see if there is a page designated for this purpose.
- Follow the author on your favorite social media sites by joining their actual pages/groups dedicated to their writing. This way you are not bogged down with their personal information but still get information pertinent to their writing career.
Stay Abreast of What's Hot
Oftentimes readers do not know where to go to get the latest information on new writer's, literary events, etc. Below are a few sites I have found to be beneficial in this area.
Black Pearls Magazine
Rawsistaz Literary Group
I Just Finished
A Place Of Our Own
Avid Readers ^ Book clubs ^ Family ^ Friends
- Always, when possible, attend local book signings, book release parties, and other literary events.
- Request books at your local library and bookstores that are not readily available in your area. If they receive enough requests they may stock the book.
- Does your place of employment host events that allow exhibitors to come in? i.e. craft shows, cultural events, vendor day, etc. Why not extend an invitation to your local authors?
- Is your club or civic organization hosting a banquet or other event? Are they selling ads for a program, or looking for vendors? Reach out to your local author. It is give and take, and the author should be happy to support the community.
- Are you an entrepreneur? Swap business cards and advertisement pieces with an author. When sales are made place each others information in customer packaging. Try getting 4 - 5 business people offering different products to participate.
- Do you own a business, work for a business, or patronize a business that has room for a "community table"? This is a table set-up in the lobby or corner of a office where people from the community can come in and display promotional items (no larger than a postcard). You can get some material from the author and place them on the table, or let the author know where you have seen such displays.
- I thought this was a great marketing tool. No matter where I go in my hometown, I am guaranteed to see at least 3 vehicles with a 8" x 8" decal located in the bottom corner of the rear window; advertising a local barbershop. He gives customers 1 free cut a month, in exchange for them displaying the decal. I haven't figured out how to present this, but once I do, I hope family and friends will be receptive to the idea.
- Be a walking billboard. Do you like wearing t-shirts and hats, or carrying book-totes? Some authors have these items available for festivals and other events. If you see a author rocking their custom gear, see if they are willing to give you an item or two.
- For book clubs, encourage your local bookstores (especially independent stores) to host authors, then attend the events. If you know a store is hosting an event, make sure your author friends are aware.
- When your club selects a book of the month, buy the books from the same bookstore. This could prompt the store to stock the book. If so, see if they will place a placard by the book with a blurb from your club about the book.
- In addition to your monthly book selection, showcase a new author. Request promotional material from authors who contact you but aren't selected as your book of the month; then pass out the materials at your meetings.
- Create a spotlight page on your website, or invite a local author to your meetings and allow them to do a 10 minute pitch.
- A few times a year, host a local author's meet~n~greet and invite family, friends, and co-workers. It can be at a restaurant where each attendee pays for their own meal. Authors can introduce themselves, do a quick pitch and afterwards sell their books.
- Books make great gifts. Give books by independent authors instead of those on the bestsellers list. Chances are, your reader friends already have those anyway.
- Video's are all the rage...create video's of book club meetings, do author interviews with visiting authors, create video reviews, and then post on your own youtube channel, or website. Examples, check-out the Sisterfriend Book Club Channel and Who Is Tasha.
As you can see, there are a number of things we all can do to help others. The most important thing to remember is that independent authors do not have a marketing and promotion team behind them. We rely heavily on word of mouth from readers, family and friends. Statistics on any website, blog, or social media, can give stats on the number of times something was viewed data, but the true success of any marketing plan is whether or not the viewers are sharing the information with others. If each person shares information with 10 or more people, it can go a long way towards the indie's success. Remember, every bit counts!