Promotion Through Helping

Wednesday, March 08, 2017
In high school I had a teacher, Mr. R., who would often say, "If you want to be successful, find a need and fill it." In high school I thought of the need as a thing -- people need a robot to make dinner, a
plant that won't die even if your office has no windows, a purse where your keys never get lost, that sort of thing. But as writers we can use Mr. R's words to live by when promoting our books.

Too often when looking for events where we can promote our books we ask ourselves "Who (or what) can help me sell my book?" Instead we should be asking Mr. R's question: Who has a need? That open-ended question can lead you to many opportunities you might never have thought of before. Because selling your book is about much more than sitting at a card table in your local bookstore with a stack of your books. It's about making people aware of you and your book.

Do you know of someone that needs:

  • a speaker
  • a teacher
  • a volunteer 
  • an organizer
All of these will give you the opportunity to meet people, talk about your book and perhaps receive some FREE publicity in your local media. Find events and causes that you enjoy and dive in. Does your local service organization need a speaker at their monthly meeting (our Rotary often has local authors). Is your local school having adult readers for their Read Across America program or guests for Career Day? Does your Senior Center want to host a short writing workshop? Do the Friends of the Library need some help at their next fundraiser? Even events and causes that aren't literary-related are opportunities to meet people who might be interested in reading your book.

A friend and I were talking about how a local restaurant owner benefited from this type of activity. He opened a tiny, hipster type restaurant (in a decidedly un-hip town) and we all said "It won't last." But suddenly his name was everywhere. He was volunteering at various causes, a member of a city committee, raising money for charity. And each time his name was in the paper it included the qualifier "owner of the Pottsville restaurant Wheel". The place is packed everyday. And not just with the local (small) hipster crowd -- senior citizens, young families, ladies who do lunch. When you keep hearing (or reading) a person's name you want to see what they're all about. For him, people do it by visiting his restaurant. For you it could be buying your book.

So take time from your writing to get out into your community. Just make sure you become known as "Jane Doe, author of Book" to all your local reporters.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Jodi--Working backwards. I like that. I do it as a teacher (What do I want them to be able to do, and work backwards to set up the learning activities) but I never thought of doing it as a writer.

Thanks for this post. It's getting me thinking...

Mary Horner said...

This is excellent advice. It's a part of networking that can help the community. Thanks for the great post!

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