Updated: Aug 21, 2019
Have you ever noticed that no matter how successful you become, there’s always someone who likes to knock you down a peg? Maybe it’s an older sibling, an in-law or a friend of yours from your high school days.
Maybe you are the exception that makes the rule, and you don’t have anyone who fits this description. I imagine if you think hard enough, the odds are high that you’ll think of someone like this not too far from your inner circle.
The reason I bring it up is that, when it comes to your success as an author, this paradigm is repeated on a large scale in your home town. The people who know you best or for the longest time are the ones who are least likely to give you the kudos you need to succeed on a grand scale.
There’s always going to be a clique in your neighborhood who believe they know you too well, or they think they do. They figure you’re a known quantity – they knew you when – and there’s little mystery to be revealed where you’re concerned. These people don’t mean to be dismissive or disrespectful. It’s just human nature. It’s only when you’ve got your name in lights in someone else’s town that your neighbors will accept you as a success.
This means when it comes to your career, your home town is the absolute best place to hone the skills it takes to successfully promote your book. It’s nice and safe. No matter what you do, the people close to home are going to love you anyway and hold to their stubborn opinions. This makes it an excellent place to take risks, refine your media publicity skills, and do lots of live events.
Book signings, media interviews and keynote addresses are the recipe for becoming a home town hero. As your skills get more refined, you can get your act together and take it on the road. That’s when your career will be ripe for that “overnight sensation” miracle we all read about in Huffington Post.
The Magic of Book Launch Events
If you’re an author, it’s essential to plan a series of promotional events in your local market to launch your book. Don’t just release your book and try to convince people to buy it. Create tension and excitement in advance, centered around the big day your book will finally be available.
Think about it. How many sunny days have you spent with your nose pressed against the window, tapping on your keyboard instead of playing volleyball on the beach? How many family gatherings have you attended where people have asked, “How’s your book coming along?” For that matter, how many events and celebrations have you missed because your writing came first?
There needs to be a payoff for the monumental investment of time, heart and soul that you’ve poured into your manuscript. Your fans and would-be followers want to share in the success of your book launch – which is why it needs to be a book launch instead of a book release.
Along with this comes the responsibility to have a series of appearances right in your home town. It’s not all that difficult to schedule these events. Just call your local bookstore and ask. The worst odds you face are 50/50. It’s surprisingly easy to get your foot in the door, and many bookstore managers are hungry for authors to show up and create some buzz for their store.
In fact, Barnes & Noble stores have a position in each store called the “CRM” whose responsibility includes scheduling author signing events. So ask for the “CRM” when requesting a signing in your local B&N store.
Libraries, schools, country clubs, civic organizations and social fraternities also make great venues for book signings. Usually all it takes to schedule an event is making that initial phone call, then following the thread until your date is inked on the calendar.
Let the Local Media Be Your Mouthpiece
Once you schedule your book launch event, naturally you’ll want to make sure you invite colleagues, friends and family. But don’t neglect the local media. This is a huge piece of the puzzle, yet so often it’s overlooked by humble authors with a “who, me?” attitude. This is true even of retired corporate executives, professional speakers and others who’ve enjoyed success but are still tentative about promoting themselves in the author space.
Yes – the fact that you’re having a book signing is a big event. Let the community share in your excitement. Put yourself out there, and you’ll be amazed by the return you get on your investment of time and heart.
Contact local media outlets such as radio, TV and publishers. Journalists are receptive to submissions, and many strongly support the work of local authors. Also, don’t be shy about reaching out to the media in neighboring cities as well. The farther afield you travel, the more likely you are to broaden the scope of your celebrity.
Local media coverage is not always easy to get, but it can be had for the right price. Often that price is simply your respect for their format. Look into the specific requirements of each of your local media outlets before you get in touch with them. You’ll find that they’re much the same across the board with a few subtle variations on the theme. Make it easy for them to promote you, save them time, be interesting and be easy to reach.
A friend of mine got his product featured in the USA Today by counting the average number of words per article by the journalist who covers his topic. When he submitted his article, it took the journalist very little time to modify the article for publication to her tastes.
Working with the media is where having a press kit comes in handy. We cover this topic in an article called Book Publicity Media Kits – The 5 Essential Elements Journalists Need.
When you have your author bio, book descriptions and press release prepared ahead of time, contacting the media is a breeze. And when you play by their format rules, you’re handing them every reason to cover your book launch events.
Combining book launch events with local media promotion is a great recipe for becoming a home town hero, one that plants the seeds of red carpet celebrity and stellar book sales. I’ve seen this happen many times in my career as a publisher and look forward to reading about your success stories.
Bryan Heathman is the CEO of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of #1 Best Seller: Book Marketing – Reinvented a marketing book that condenses knowledge on running a successful book marketing campaign. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.