How to Dazzle Your Readers With a Book Signing Event!

So: You’ve written a book, and now you need to sell it. How would you like to throw a dazzling book reading and signing event and read excerpts from your book to an audience hanging on your every word?

Book readings, and their close compatriots, book signings, are one of the keystones of a self-publishing author’s post-publication strategic plan. The benefits of a reading and signing event are endless, and the opportunity to meet potential readers (and buyers) in a comfortable face-to-face environment is often one of the most important parts of a successful marketing campaign. When the unstoppable force of a new book meets the immovable object of a local independent bookstore, that campaign has a rock-solid foundation!

But how exactly can you go about setting one up?

First, identify potential bookstores! Start local. While larger chain retailers occasionally organize book signings, your local independent bookstores offer far more chances and flexibility. They also have a vested interest in supporting local (and self-published) authors, as the “regionality” of their offerings can provide a significant boost to sales. You can check local newspapers to see if any bookstores are listing upcoming events on the paper’s “calendar of events,” just as you would a public bulletin board in years gone by. Libraries are also a great place to host readings and signings, but they don’t offer some of the same benefits as a bookstore … namely, they don’t usually stock books for sale.

Second, prepare your pitch! Craft a short, clear script which outlines what your book is about and why readers would be interested in meeting you or buying the book. Make sure you include some easily modifiable references to the specific store or location you’re pitching to, so that they feel right away that you’ve done your due diligence and your research, and that you really are interested in having a reading at their store … not just any store. Emphasize the timeliness and the “regionality” or local appeal of your book, as well as any other points about how your book, specifically, will resonate with the store’s customers and perhaps even boost their sales reach.

Third, make contact! Call in or stop by to ask after the store owner or communications manager (if a larger chain) and come prepared with a brief pitch and some ready-made promotional materials, your book’s ISBN, retail price, bulk discount (if applicable), and a review copy if you have one to spare. Make sure to start the process well in advance; even smaller stores often set their events calendars months in advance! The more organized you appear on your first impression, the more likely the store will be to embrace the chance to promote your book by offering a free reading!

Fourth, follow up! It is vital to follow up your pitches with stores which have not confirmed dates. Mark your own calendar a week or two after your store visit, and call! Store owners and communications managers really want to be convinced that you’re willing to do your bit to help with promotion, so keep a list ready to hand of all the ways (whether by setting up an event invitation on social media, papering the town with flyers and handouts, or footing the bill for a newspaper advertisement or radio spot) in which you plan on helping. Provide them with your website address and any additional material they might need to feel confident that you’re the best possible choice for that special date next month! In the book business, persistence really pays off, as does the personal touch … which is what readings are all about.

Follow these four steps and you’ll be well on your way to organizing a successful book reading and signing event!

Interested in learning more about book marketing opportunities and services? Log into your Publishing Center at www.outskirtspress.com and click on the Marketing Services menu.

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Craft a Holiday Marketing Plan *Now* and Beat The Holiday Frenzy!

The trees are growing lush with their fall foliage, the air tastes crisp and sharp with woodsmoke, the kids are back in school, and you know what that means: The holidays are just right around the corner! This is a time of year to celebrate, not only because it means the return of pumpkin spice lattes and mulled cider, but because it is a time of year devoted to partnerships — to sharing delicious food and thoughtful gifts, yes, and to spending time with those we love and cherish.

You can take the guesswork and a good chunk of the stress out of this time of year as an author by innovating your marketing strategies, as there are certain advantages to marketing this time of year that aren’t available to you on just any summer day!

Early bird shoppers are already looking ahead to Christmas, and it makes sense to work alongside local businesses and indie bookstores to put a holiday marketing plan in place now, rather than during the busy holiday rush when your book ought already to be on the shelves! Is your book a children’s book? Make sure your book is made available in local toy stores, too, and maybe put some flyers up in local day care centers, libraries, and schools. Also, think of how great your book could be as a stocking stuffer or Thanksgiving gift basket addition for family members; being generous with your book this time of year could lead to more readers not only within your family, but whoever your family ends up sharing it with as well.

This is also a great time of year for holiday giveaways online. Ramp up your blog and social media posts with relevant tags with an eye for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and host giveaways specific to each platform! Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and Amazon all have their own flavor and form for giveaways, so take a peek at what other authors have done in the past and pick an upcoming holiday to center your own event around. Post on pages and accounts relevant to your story — this could be anything from tagging a Twitter account for the state your book takes place in, reaching out to a Goodreads group of readers that your book might appeal to, or maybe even posting to a Facebook event in your area that fits the theme of your book.

Remember that some of the most common gifts among coworkers, vague acquaintances, and even family members are Amazon gift cards; do you have an ebook to offer all these new potential buyers? Going digital means that there were literally be millions of people who will have access to your book, who never would have come across it otherwise. If you already have an ebook version, ask your readers for a priceless holiday gift: a good review online!

Whether we’re talking about an e-book or an audiobook, digital formats offer some other truly exciting possibilities for incentivization. Amazon automatically offers the first ten or so pages for free (the so-called “first chapter freebie“) and you can replicate this on your blog and with other online retailers. Curating your own freebie chapter isn’t an option with Amazon, but it is when you choose the method of delivery via blog or email, and we highly recommend taking the time to edit what makes it into your freebie — this gives you an edge over the Amazon preview, which often cuts off in the middle of a paragraph. Make sure the freebie ends with some sort of natural cliffhanger or emotional hook, to keep your readers coming back!

Don’t forget to work your way through the entire checklist of must-do marketing strategies, either:

  • Book Readings
  • Book Fairs
  • Giveaways & Merch (you don’t want to leverage these as bribes for reviews, but you can certainly use them to incentivize coming to other events where your books are sold, or to encourage the sort of general enthusiasm for your work that will naturally lead to reviews!)
  • Limited Edition Offers & Bundles (comic book authors have created some really good models for bundles that you can use for inspiration, and creating short runs of specialty covers is also a specialty of theirs; don’t hesitate to mix it up to build demand)
  • Insider Access (readers want to feel special for being your fans, and you should reward this impulse; maybe the purchase of a book becomes a ticket to an author interview via Google Hangouts-or maybe it gives them access to a limited-access “behind the scenes” page on your website? The options are endless.)

We know here at Outskirts Press how busy the holiday season can get! We know that you’re also out shopping for your families, preparing feasts, and more. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to the gift of our services that can help you with these marketing tasks that are so important this time of year!

At Outskirts Press, we have a range of marketing solutions that include a custom press release, an author platform setup through social media, a book trailer with social network distribution, and time with your own personal marketing assistant. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss out on the perks of holiday marketing, while also ensuring that you don’t miss out on the holiday cheer because you’re too busy worrying about marketing your book!

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Your Quick-Start Marketing Guide, Complements of Outskirts Press

So, you’ve self-published your book, put out a press release and announced your news on Facebook … now the book flies off the shelf, right? Not so much. Before royalties can start rolling in, it’s important to understand the link (and the gap) between marketing and sales. The first step is to get real about what marketing is — and what it is not.

As you may know, book marketing is a “long game” that plays out over the life of your book — often a multifaceted one — but there are things every author can do to make progress on their own. Think of marketing as a series of building blocks in an overall promotional structure. Each task you undertake to promote your book builds upon the last and sets the stage for the next. No one component completes the structure, but with time and effort you’ll see something beautiful take shape.

Remember, a single marketing push won’t usually pay off in immediate sales. The goal of marketing is to consistently generate name recognition for you and your book so that that growing awareness eventually inspires readers to learn more and buy. This doesn’t happen overnight. So, to ensure the time you spend on your book marketing is as impactful as it can be, here’s what to expect and how to make the most of every minute.

Assess Your Assets
Once your book is published, the hard part begins — raising awareness. This is a time to take personal inventory of a few components vital to your marketing.

  1. Determine what marketing assets you currently have at your disposal. Social media accounts (and connections), friends, business acquaintances, personal and professional memberships each present opportunities to connect, share and even sell.
  2. Be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses. Are you articulate and warm? If so, radio or TV interviews might be a good forum for you. Perhaps you’re shy but still great with technology. Then maybe social media marketing is more your speed. Be honest with yourself and focus on the things you do well.
  3. Assess the amount of time you can spend marketing your book each day/week/month.
  4. Set appropriate goals for promoting your book and yourself as an author. Use your skills and time assessments to identify where you’ll begin your marketing efforts. If you’ve decided radio is the way to go, set a goal to query a certain number of radio programs each week offering yourself as a guest, based on the time you have available. If social media is your bailiwick, make a point to post something relevant to your social media accounts each day, or week — or whatever schedule fits into your busy calendar.
  5. Be patient … but not too patient. Be consistent in your marketing efforts but willing to change direction. If months of one approach don’t move the needle, it may be time to try a different tack.

Finally, if you’re already published through Outskirts Press, become familiar with the resources in your Author Publishing Center. Many of the questions you have about book marketing can be answered within the Book Marketing Resource Center there. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, email marketing@outskirtspress.com.

Still unsure about where to start? Consider hiring a Personal Marketing Assistant to get you pointed in the right direction for long-term success. Log in to your Publishing Center at www.outskirtspress.com and select Personal Marketing Assistant from the Marketing Solutions menu.

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Launch Kids Into Literacy Heaven!

Marketing books can be difficult, especially when you have to market to two dramatically different groups of people: children and the adults who buy books for them!

It’s no secret that children want a few specific things from the books they read, and those things can be boiled down to beautiful, eye-popping illustrations and a quirky, fast-paced story which will keep them on their toes. But adults? They want to buy books for their kids which are instructive as well as entertaining, and thoughtful as well as funny. Both children and adults love smart, horizon-expanding picture books, but that horizon sometimes looks a little … different.

So how do you market your picture book so that it shows off all of these various facets? We have a few thoughts on how to kickstart your promotional campaign this May!

  1. Start your campaign with a memorable—and thematic!—event. In that the book you’re promoting is a kid’s book, it probably taps into some great themes as well as some exciting visuals thanks to your illustrations. Use this to your advantage! Kids love parties of all kinds and the themes which go with them, and you can usually rely on your local library or your local independent bookstore to welcome a literary event, like a book reading or launch party, for kids. Go straight to the people who will know best how to incorporate picture books and fun activities—your children’s librarian! Seriously. They do this all the time. Even if you don’t hold your event at the library, these folks are a great resource for ideas.
  2. Take the book to school. Like, a literal and actual school! It can be hard to break into the schools since the curriculum is often developed by people higher up in the academic hierarchy than the teachers themselves, but there are still ways to raise your book’s profile among school-aged kids! One of the most reliable ways to promote a children’s book is to put together a thirty to fifty minute workshop which you can scale up or down to any group of school students of any age (or at least a range of ages). Keep it portable, and flexible enough to adapt to a variety of classroom setups and sizes, and reach out to a couple of your local teachers and administrators to see what kind of needs a workshop around your book can help meet. Think big!
  3. Market to both children and the adults who will be paying for the book. Children’s books are unique in respect to the fact that the person who will be reading the book most often and the person who is paying for it are often not the same person. In many cases, too, adults are a necessary part of the child’s reading experience as well–picture all of those Story Times in the library, with grown-ups reading to little ones in their laps–so a book must have shelf appeal to both little ones (make an eye-popping display!) and their parents or caregivers (make it relevant and funny!). Use social media local parenting-related groups to reach out to these folks. Whatever you do, make sure your marketing strategies are reaching out to those who buy the books as well as those who read them!

Whatever path you choose to pursue in marketing your children’s book, we hope you’ll take advantage of the resources available through our website at www.OutskirtsPress.com, or make use of a five-hour session with one of our expert Personal Marketing Assistants, each of whom can walk you through the necessary steps to set up a rigorous, flexible, and far-reaching marketing plan suited to you and your book’s unique needs. At Outskirts Press, we’re here to help you at all of the different stages of being an author, from publishing to marketing to getting started on your next children’s book!

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Best of Luck to the Official 2017 Outskirts Press EVVY Award Nominees!

This year, we have a brand-new batch of quality EVVY Award nominees to brag about! The EVVYs are an acclaimed annual award program sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers’ Association, or CIPA, which recognize and raise the profile of excellent independently published books. The EVVYs are judged by a panel of professionals on a qualitative scale of merit in a set of categories which broadens each year. As of 2017, there are fifty-one of these categories!

Each year, Outskirts Press officially nominates a small percentage of the books published during the year for submission to the EVVY Awards. Since a nomination is the first step toward receiving the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award, the standards are exceedingly high; we nominate, on average, just 2% of the books we publish each year-and these nominations represent the very best of our publications as determined by our executives and members of our production teams.

Outskirts Press official nominees and winners receive additional exposure of their books in featured Outskirts Press marketing channels, including our blog, social media networks, and in our email newsletters. The winners are announced during an awards ceremony hosted by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association in May.

Congratulations to this year’s Official Outskirts Press EVVY Award nominees, presented alphabetically below:

There’s more!

As a result of being nominated for the EVVY Awards, these Outskirts Press authors have taken the first step toward winning the coveted Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. Three of the nominees above who subsequently win an EVVY Award during the CIPA banquet this coming May will be selected as Semi-Finalists for our annual Best Book of the Year Award and its $1,500 Grand Prize. Stay tuned.

All of these books, along with other Outskirts Press titles, are available from the major online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Books-A-Million and others, plus conveniently from the Outskirts Press bookstore. To learn more about our products and services, as well as upcoming and current promotions, visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to speak with a Publishing Consultant.

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Prepare for a Summer of Book Sales with FREE Shipping In May!

Spring is an exciting time for those of us involved in self-publishing, with many authors taking advantage of phenomenal promotional opportunities such as spring book fairs as well as laying the groundwork for a summer of book sales and promotions of their own.

Stocking up for the big book-selling push can get pricey, however, and we at Outskirts Press want to lift some of the burden so that you make the most of the spring and summer seasons. To this end, we will be offering all currently published authors FREE SHIPPING on orders of 50 or more copies of their books within the continental U.S during the month of May.

It’s a good idea to have extra copies of your book on hand for those upcoming promotional events, including readings, giveaways, book fairs, and tours! By combining this free shipping offer with our bulk order discounts, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for whatever the summer throws your way— all without unduly depleting your bank account!

Here’s how to get that free shipping:

  1. Log in to your author account at www.OutskirtsPress.com, select “order books” and place an order for 50 or more copies of your book(s) in a single format before May 31.
  2. Select normal ground shipping with a delivery address within the continental United States and proceed with checkout.
  3. That’s it!

No promotion code is necessary. You will see the free shipping offer reflected in your total once you place your order.

If you’re not sure how to approach marketing your self-published book and haven’t yet taken advantage of Outskirts Press’ many promotional services, consider contacting a Personal Marketing Assistant to come up with a solid action plan for this summer!

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Get Thee to BookExpo, Post-Haste!

If you’ve spent much time investigating the best ways to market and sell your self-published book, then you’ll already know that the value of a tactile face-to-face encounter is simply unmatched! What if you could get your book in front of agents, scouts, movie or TV production and development professionals, as well as scads and scads of potential new readers? This is what BookExpo can do for you!

Every year, the BookExpo (formerly Book Expo America, BEA) attracts over 100,000 attendees from all over the world and is the largest gathering of authors, booksellers, publishers, and industry professionals in North America! This year, the three-day expo will take place in New York City and conclude with BookCon, a signature two-day event for fans “where storytelling and pop culture collide.”

The BookExpo kicks off on Wednesday, May 31st at 9:00 AM and concludes on Friday, June 2nd at 5:00 PM. If you’re in the New York area (or can arrange to be in the New York area) we highly recommend that you stop on by the exhibition space and peruse both our display and the others available! Registration is now open for attendees through the BookExpo website.

But … what about your book?

If you’re looking to get your book into the BookExpo to further launch your career as an author, Outskirts Press can help you get there next year. Every year, we send a cohort of five of our works to the BookExpo, providing them valuable face-out exposure. We also send a representative to answer questions about your book, and feature your title in the trade show catalogue as a “title on display” for the reference of industry professionals. Just keep an eye out for our registration service when it rolls back around in 2018, with a deadline in early April!

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