You did it! You got a publishing deal! The years of hard work paid off. But the work is far from over. You’ll likely go through several rounds of edits. Then the fun part—the cover design, layout, and production.
During the pre-launch period, you’ll likely work with your publisher’s marketing team on promotion strategies. But part of marketing will inevitably fall on your shoulders.
And, yes, one way is to try and grow your social media following. But, especially if you are a debut, your author imprint is likely swimming (or maybe more like drowning) in a packed platform of millions.
Instead, why not focus on building a following at your local level. And here’s why: first off, people already know you. Once they find out you have a book coming out, many will be curious. Secondly, people in your community know people outside your community. It’s an organic way to build your platform.
Below are five ideas on how to get started.
1. Make bookmarks and drop them off at your local libraries, bookstores, and if your book is for children, school libraries.
Programs like Canva offer simple templates. On the front of your bookmark add your book cover. (If you don’t have one you can also use Canva to make a mock-up). On the back put a one-sentence blurb, the launch date, your social media contacts, website, etc. Print them on cardstock, cut, and done!
2. Contact local magazines and newspapers and ask for a feature article.
Long before your launch date, contact your local magazines and newspapers and ask if they will feature you and your book. Most local publications are always looking for stories and featuring a local author is big news! They might even let you write it yourself. Contacting early will ensure your article is released long before your launch date.
3. Search for local book clubs and ask if you can speak.
Yes, you don’t have a book for them to read yet, but what better way for them to want to read it than to have met the author ahead of time! You can read a sample chapter or two. Talk about the genesis of your story. Share your journey to publication. Book club fans will love it!
4. Based on the age range of your target audience, offer to speak to literature classes in schools, community colleges, and universities.
Even without your book in hand, you have valuable information for writers at all ages and stages. Jot down a list of writing topics you would feel comfortable speaking about. Maybe you are an expert a using strong verbs, how to craft authentic dialogue, or showing versus telling. Whatever it may be, then offer to share your knowledge.
5. Schedule a launch party in your community.
My novel Worth It doesn’t come out until May of 2024, but I’ve already booked the location I will have my launch party. I was at Finn’s, a local ocean-front hot spot, on a Friday when I got the email that Wild Ink Publishing wanted to offer me contract.
A few days later, after the shock wore off, I contacted Finn’s and told them. They were honored to pencil me in for my book launch.
While it’s not a fancy bookstore and likely won’t have hundreds of guests, it will be personal. And I’ll share my journey with my community.
I hope these suggestions give you solace that while it would be nice to have millions of followers across the globe salivating for your book, it’s not likely or necessary. Starting with your community, is in my opinion, the best way to build an authentic fan base of readers. After all, your book is only a by-product of you the person. 🙂
Going local is one of the most underutilized and fastest paths to success.Nicole Culver – Business Coach and Strategist
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