Getting noticed is tricky. Sure, us writers are lucky having the internet at our fingertips, but sometimes, when social media doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere, it becomes easy to doubt its influence.
Whilst I am an advocate and trumpet-blower for social media, the scramble to get noticed amongst a wave of spammers can feel like an uphill struggle. Here are a few unconventional marketing methods to help spread the word of your book and author website.
1. Use shop display computers to conveniently browse your website
This one is a little bit cheeky. Whenever I’m in a shop like Currys or PC World, the ego maniac takes over me when I spot the tablet computer section. There’s no harm in a sneaky peek at your website on a few display computers, right? And oh, how convenient – I forgot to exit the site when I left the shop. That’s just fine, I suppose. I only viewed it on twelve computers, anyway.
I doubt this method is very effective if you’re looking for a mass increase in sales, but who knows? Perhaps one day, a fellow author will wander past, or somebody interested in local writing. Damn, maybe even an agent, or someone like that, might stumble upon your website completely by chance.
Or maybe they won’t. Still, you’ll get a bloody good kick from it.
2. Strike up conversations with strangers
When I say ‘strangers’, I’m actually talking taxi drivers, hairdressers, and the like. Before stopping a complete stranger in public, make sure you’re either very attractive, or sat in the driver’s seat of a Lamborghini. We’ll move on to ways you can deal with other members of the public in a moment, but for now, focus your unconventional marketing efforts on those who show an interest.
It’s really quite simple. ‘What do you do for a living?’ is such a common question that you’d be foolish not to mention your writing. Bear in mind that people aren’t used to meeting authors in everyday situations, so often they’ll be interested to hear about your book, and will certainly remember you. This can be a perfect ‘elevator-pitch’ practice, and if you’re lucky, they might even let you give them your website details.
Here’s a fact for you based on zero research: people enjoy being a part of something. Being able to say something like, ‘I met the author of this!’ or ‘This guy was on my bus the other day’, gives people a kick. And, word spreads, so it really is a faultless method. Just make sure you’re humble, and you’re on to a winner.
If you do need a little bit of public speaking advice, this blog by Joanna Penn offers some handy tips for preparation.
3. Hand out some flyers
One of my favourite unconventional marketing methods has to be one I was subject to whilst paying for an album in UK-based music store, HMV.
I saw the cashier doodling on some paper, but didn’t really think much of it at the time. It was only later, when I went to reach into my bag for the CD, that I found a loose piece of paper with a website written on, cryptically. Of course, I checked it out, and it linked to a rather decent local band’s page. What surprised me though, was how quickly I made the decision to view the website.
Think about it: we get handed nice, well-designed flyers every day. 95% of them, we throw away, without even thinking about. 4% end up scrunched up in the bottom of our jacket pockets. So, what was so different about this handwritten website link?
Well, the fact that it was handwritten added a personal touch. It’s sheer lack of content caught my eye and made me want to know more. It made me feel like I was a part of something (see previous note). Therefore, I think the fact that it hadn’t been professionally designed, and offered nothing more than just a web link, intensified my curiosity.
So, why not try throwing a few sneaky flyers into your potential customers’ hands? Perhaps even a business card, or two? Be as creative as you fancy with this one. I mean, literally throw them into people’s hands, if you want. Unconventional marketing is about being creative and unique, so jot down a few ideas and see what you can come up with.
Which unconventional marketing methods do you find to be most effective? Have you ever tried any of the above, and if so, how successful were they? Leave a comment below!
These are interesting ideas. I’ve never though to leave my site up on a browser in a store before — very creative! Like you said, I’m not sure how effective that’d be, but it’s an idea. And who knows, being out of the box can be very rewarding at times.
Also the hand-made flyers sound interesting. I’ve never really seen an author hand out flyers. Simple business cards might work too.
Thanks for the comment, Elisa!
I totally agree about the effectiveness of leaving the site up in a shop. Chances of acquiring a long-term follower through this are probably be pretty slim, but who knows? If you’re reading this in a store now… HI!
I designed myself some business cards on Vistaprint, annotated with ‘Author of A Construct of Angels’. I stopped there, however, as I didn’t want to jinx my chances of getting published. Maybe it was too late – I still haven’t been, but if I do get lucky, I will definitely be ordering 500 or perhaps 1000 to scatter around.
Good luck Andrew! I agree that business cards can be a handy thing to have. You never know when you’re going to meet somebody, and what better to prove your legitimacy than a nice, shiny business card?
I’m definitely going to do #1. Great idea. I already have folding business cards (book cover on front, blurb and website on inside).
Thanks for the comment, Carl, and good to see you over here! #1 is worth it for the kick alone. The business/book-ness cards sound great; love the folding idea.
Putting your website on shop computers? More effective if you take it to a QR code – lots of people can’t resist finding out what they say and decode it with their mobile phone. Example: http://avestedinterest.info/qr
That works well as a printed card too. I leave them in shopping carts, inside books at bookshop and libraries – everywhere.
Thanks for the comment, John. The QR idea is a great one. You’re right – it’s very hard to resist a stray QR, especially coupled with a teasing message. Would you care to share any sort of traffic info based on the QR, if there is a way to track the data? Very interesting method indeed. Thanks!
I have a friend who wrote his website info on dollar bills to promote his CD. I’m not sure how effective it was