By Scott Lorenz
When promoting a book, many authors think national promotion. And that’s fine, but I also suggest authors consider solid local promotion using book clubs. While national campaigns can be effective, reaching out to a nearby audience is certainly cost-effective and, when done right, can help start word-of-mouth promotion every author covets.
The obvious appeal of a book club is that it is a prime niche target. The simple equation is that book clubs consist of people interested in books and people who like books can like your book as well as any other.
The investment is driving 15-20 minutes to where the club meets, speaking for 30 minutes, answering questions for 10-15 minutes, and then greeting members as they depart at a table filled with your books.
If 20 members attend that week’s book club session, and six buy your book, they will return to the following month’s meeting and at least two or three will talk about your book. Others will then go out and, on the recommendation of club members, purchase your book. All will tell friends outside the club, some of whom will buy your book. It doesn’t take long for 100 sales to rack up from a 90-minute investment by the author.
And, by the way, a book club in another state or another country still can have value to an author because it can easily be arranged to “appear” as a speaker to any distant club by using SKYPE, Facebook Live or other technology. Visiting a book club offers many benefits beyond sales, although generating sales should be number one. Other benefits include:
- A way to better identify target audiences
- Getting new thoughts and ideas for future books
- Increased understanding of what characters or plot lines were of interest to readers in your target audience
- Having an instant focus group without having to pay for one
- Meet and relate to reviewers who often are book club members
- Meet people from all different walks of life, greatly adding food to the writer’s observational brain
- Learn about new books to read. Remember Stephen King’s advice: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.”
To find book clubs nearby do a Google search. Then, (now don’t laugh), actually go to your local library and ask the librarian! Chances are some book clubs may even meet in the library. Others will meet in private homes but the librarian will know. In fact, the librarian will belong to local book clubs and probably would be willing to recommend you as a speaker at a club event or at the library itself. Besides the library, visit local community colleges and universities to get information on book clubs.
Book clubs also can be located by searching on Facebook, Goodreads and other online sites. You can visit local coffee shops, sandwich shops and even bookstores and look for a community bulletin board that book clubs are apt to use for announcements.
Another way to locate nearby book clubs is to go to www.readerscircle.org, www.readinggroupguides.com and www.bookbrowse.com/bookclubs.
There are some things an author should do to make the visit worthwhile to club members so they will be invited back or invited to another club, such as:
- Provide study questions in advance
- Have some great stories ready to tell about writing and the creative process
- Seek their help by asking them to review your book on Amazon, BN, Goodreads, or talk about it on Facebook or Twitter
- Keep in touch. Take a picture with the group and offer to email it to them. Save the contact information and email them updates
- Bring something – bookmarks, a bottle of wine, or a batch of homemade cookies. Best of all bring free books to give away.
After you have visited all the book clubs within a 50-mile radius, you will have become an expert at promoting books using book clubs. After all, paid speakers begin by speaking free to local civic clubs and become better speakers by this training method. The same goes for authors and book clubs. These new skills will prepare you to speak at seminars, workshops, book fair conferences, etc.
One more thing. There are several celebrity book clubs promoted by Reese Witherspoon, Jimmy Fallon and Sarah Jessica Parker to name a few. Getting picked up by these are a long shot at best for most authors. So for best results and mental satisfaction, I’d focus on the plan I’ve outlined above.
The Bottom Line: Authors, pursue book clubs to promote your book and get the local buzz going!
About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz
Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.
Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com or contact Lorenz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist