8 Ways to Sell Self-Published Books Locally

by | Apr 15, 2020 | Book Marketing Basics, Booking & Promoting Events, Getting More Media Coverage

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Local marketing is, for many authors, a last consideration when it comes to figuring out how to sell self-published books.

We all think of marketing to the masses, right? Going national, even international. And while all of that is great, and certainly necessary, there’s a strong argument in favor of marketing locally both because of the opportunities that it presents to get into local stores, but also from a media perspective.

Local media loves their local celebrities – and as an author, you’re one of the celebs local media loves. It’s also a great way to get your feet wet doing media and a fantastic way to add media appearances to your website.

If you want to build into national media appearances, starting on a local level can be a great way to do that. So, where do you start? Let’s dig in!

Libraries are Your Best Bet

These are always my first choice to sell self-published books, of course it might depend a little bit on the book you’re pushing, too. Women’s fiction, genre fiction, children’s books, various segments of the non-fiction market all tend to do well in a library setting.

What books don’t do well? This depends a bit on the library, they’ll know their audience and can certainly give you some guidance on what will sell well there.

But DIY books – like home crafting, cooking, etc. might be better in a local specialty store market.

Local Indie Bookstores are There to Support You

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with one or more local indie bookstores, be sure to target them. This is a great market for just about any author, and it’s a great way to support a local independent bookstore!

Specialty Stores are an Untapped Option

As I mentioned in the library segment, specialty stores can be a great opportunity to sell self-published books. I’ve done events for our authors in card stores (Hallmark), cookware stores, hardware stores, computer stores.

You name it, we’ve done it. The idea is to align your book with a store appropriate to your message. In most cases, when it comes to specialty stores, you’re probably offering your books on consignment, rather than having them buy it from Ingram.

But that’s pretty easy to do, they’ll likely want a discount – sometimes as little as 20%. In some cases, they may even let you handle the sales and pay them a percentage of each book sold.

Wineries & Breweries are Just Plain Fun

Most wineries and breweries probably won’t want you doing events on weekends (because they’re so busy), but there’s a good chance you can get in on a normally slow afternoon or evening. If the venue is willing to promote you to their newsletter list, all the better!

Festivals and Street Fairs Connect You with Artisans

I love doing these events, especially if you can invite other local authors to share a table with you. Hey, you all want to sell self-published books, right?

Here’s a tip: see if you can pull in authors across one or more different genres – that’ll get more traffic to your table. And you never know, because someone interested in your friend’s cookbook might know someone who loves reading the genre you wrote, too.

Offer to autograph all your sales, because autographed books make great gifts!

Local Businesses Can Display Your Book

This may not be an opportunity to do an event, but they might be willing to share or even help sell self-published books written by a local author! I’ve known authors to offer a copy of their book to local hair salons, or sell their books at their local dry cleaner.

Tap into your local business market, let them know you’re an author and you’d love to work with them! You’ll be surprised how many local businesses will want to support you!

Local Meetups Have Done a Lot of the Work for You

This is particularly fun if you can find local book clubs – because many of them are listed on Meetup by region – so get on and find yours. Each Meetup has a contact page and a way to reach them.

Offer to do a talk, or see if they need a book club suggestion from a local author and if you have copies on hand and a way to sell them, (which you should if you’re ever going to do events) offer them a group discount!

Fun Swag is Always a Must

Whenever authors are doing local pushes to sell a self-published book, I recommend that they do some kind of fun swag. It could be as simple as a stack of bookmarks or character trading cards.

These are fun because you can use them during your event and if you can’t get an event, why not leave a stack at your local stores and ask if they’ll hand them to customers? Tip: make sure to mention “local author” on the bookmark so whoever is getting it knows you’re a local celebrity!

Tapping into local markets is a smart and easy thing to do and the benefits can extend far beyond your town. I mentioned the author earlier on in this piece who was selling a ton of books, and that’s great, but building your platform using local media, local events, and a boost from other businesses in your area is a great and smart way to build your author brand.

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