Happy Labor Day Weekend! What are your plans? Maybe some barbecued ribs, backyard bliss, and one last summer romp through the woods? These sound like wonderful options, but there’s more than one worthwhile way to spend your holiday hours. We here at Outskirts Press like to think you can both relax, kick up your heels, and enjoy a sumptuous day off—as well as be the engaged, insightful, and active self-publishing authors that we know you are! A more pertinent question to ask yourselves, then, might be: What can we do as authors to promote our books over the long Labor Day weekend?
Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Labor Day Sweepstakes! Sweepstakes are both simple and highly effective, in that they use your existing social media followers to reach new potential readers. Both Facebook and Twitter are good places to start, since they will help you build and drive traffic, especially if you offer an attractive prize. How to do it? Make a few waves by announcing your sweepstakes online and by offering a chance for your followers (and their followers, and their followers) to win by liking or commenting on your Facebook post or retweeting your announcement. Some authors include the extra proviso that entrants must also follow them in order to be eligible to win, which provides a little extra boost to your online presence—for the duration of the sweepstakes, at least. Dig around online using Google or your other favorite search engine to look at a few example Terms & Conditions; both Facebook and Twitter provide handy promotional guidelines for you to take advantage of.
2. Labor Day Photo Contest! With so much going on over the long weekend—parades, picnics, concerts, and yes, barbecues—a photo contest provides a fun opportunity to take advantage of the good times people are already having. Encourage your followers on social media as well as your blog and newsletter subscribers to upload photos of themselves celebrating Labor Day—at the beach, at the park, in the backyard, with friends, with family, with a great steak. It’s worth asking them to take a photograph centering on a specific theme, either vacation-related or to do with your book. Are you promoting a mystery book? Have followers snap pictures of themselves reconstructing an investigation around the picnic table. What about a horror novel? Have them snap pictures of their own Labor Day disasters, big and small. Participation should be straightforward, easy, and fun—and any prizes you raffle off should combine the spirit of celebration with the theme of your book.
3. Cross-Promote! Look, Labor Day isn’t the sexiest holiday of the Fall bonanza. By the time Labor Day rolls around, most businesses are already looking ahead to Halloween and Thanksgiving. They devote a big slice of their marketing budgets to what follows, making September the perfect time to bring your book to market and to work with complementary businesses, organizations, and individuals—including other authors. It’s a blind spot for the big corporations—and corporate blind spots make room for the underdogs to thrive! Consider hosting a joint event, or offering a joint discount if readers purchase your book along with another author’s. You could even offer a discount if they purchase an item from your favorite local business and are able to furnish a receipt afterwards. As with every other marketing push, relevance really does matter; think of all possible partners with whom you and your work have a kind of synergy. If you work in partnership, you might even be able to split any printing and distribution costs—a boon for everybody.
4. Remember the Context! Since many businesses go easy on Labor Day sales and promotions, the downside is that the traffic produced by your own promotion (particularly if you’re going solo) may not be enough to drive traffic to your website or event. There are, however, plenty of other things happening at this time of year that bring in a lot of money and attention to local businesses: back-to-school sales, school sports kicking into gear, and fall workshops at area libraries, universities, and community centers. When putting together your promotions, take advantage of the context and the symbolism associated with these goings-on. Try designing your postcards and business cards as footballs or as backpacks brimming with notebooks, pens, and computers. Print limited quantities with some sort of promotional bent, such as the limited-time discounts mentioned above. Just because Labor Day doesn’t have intensely iconic imagery associated with it in the same way that Christmas does, doesn’t mean your giveaways have to be bland!
5. Host an Event! Last but certainly not least, consider the humble book signing or reading … but bigger. Labor Day is a low-key family holiday, just short enough that many people choose to stay in town instead of traveling. Take advantage of this impulse by throwing a Labor-Day-appropriate event, such as a reading event downtown with drinks for the after-dinner set, or a backyard event complete with kid-friendly snacks. Here’s where playing to the local crowd really matters: you know your target audience, and by paying attention to the prevailing winds and the existing traditions of your community you can turn Labor Day into something more than just an accidental long weekend. Dream up some good door prizes and whisk out a little live music, and the people will come.
Ultimately, these ideas mean nothing if you don’t make them yours. Find a way to be yourself this Labor Day—to be both a true-blue vacationeer and a dedicated self-publishing author—and we guarantee that this day will help you make a mark on the world and help you reach your book marketing goals.
We wish you an enjoyable, relaxing and wonderful weekend.