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Thursday, October 24, 2013

A2R Marketing: Going Local

It's not just foodies who are interested in the "going local" trend. Readers love going local as well. Authors promoting their books are smart make part of their promotional readings to include house calls to local book groups.

This picture is of an active book group near where I live. They had read about my book, The Charity, in a local paper and chose it as their October selection. One of their members reached out to me because the book is set on the North Shore and relates to a passion of hers, horses. Learning I live close by, she offered a tour of the New England Equine Rescue facility as an enticement to join them. I happily accepted her invitation for an evening of chardonnay and laughter as we shared impressions and insights of the book. They said they rarely agree on whether a selection was liked by each member of their group, but The Charity won their unanimous praise. 

The evening was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, in the best of book group traditions, members sampled a genre not typical for them. One women would not have picked up a book in the thriller genre, but ended up loving the story and the main character. They also enjoyed reading a book that gave them a window into a darker side of their home surroundings. Readers are inherently curious about the process of writing a book. Having the author come to their home and share inside secrets on the research and writing of a book, especially one they loved, was a bonus.

The other reason why the evening was notable was due to the changes in the publishing industry. Authors are needing to be more creative in their outreach to gain new readers. An author's work no longer ends with a polished manuscript, but continues into worlds most writers know little or nothing about - business development and marketing. Any little hook that piques a reader's interest is worth the effort and rewarding them with personalized insights is important.  

As an emerging author, it's difficult to compete with the big advertising budgets and supreme PR machines that the big guys have. Keeping your focus on what is interesting and intriguing to your neighbors helps get the traction that any growing buzz needs. When readers connect in a personal way to a book they become a fan and, optimally, an evangelist. Buzz cannot grow without evangelists.

There are a lot of winners when you keep your focus local. Certainly, the women enjoyed an interesting evening of talk and sharing. Local bookstores benefited too. Because the readers needed the book quickly, they shopped local instead of shopping online. Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, which is one of the several area stores to carry my title, did a great business thanks to these ladies! Also, New England Equine Rescue was planning a silent auction and fundraiser and I happily donated a signed copy of my book to support their efforts. 

It's always smart to keep the bigger picture in mind when promoting your work. But it's even smarter to stay focused on what's right in your own backyard.

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.