Creative Cross Promotion
By Don Lafferty
As much as we like to think our work is singularly compelling, the hard truth is, we’re faced with the daily challenge of breaking through the crushing onslaught of information bombarding our target readership.
Whether your promotional strategy of choice is print, radio, television, social media, or some combination of these, your ability to capture reader’s attention long enough for them to get your message requires just as much forethought and creativity as did grabbing the attention of your agent and publisher.
Step into the shoes of your target readers. What else do they read? Where do they surf the Net? What kind of music do they listen to? What movies do they watch and where do they shop? Which charities do they support?
The answers to these questions will provide you with countless opportunities to more effectively position you and your work in the places where your readers will take notice. Partnering with others will also leverage their networks to extend and multiply the reach of your own.
Create a local author marketing co-op.
We’ve all heard the sayings, “Two heads are better than one.” and “There’s strength in numbers.” This concept works for authors too. Bookstores, libraries, chambers of commerce and other local organizations are much more inclined to arrange a multiple author panel discussion [http://neterutour.com/Panelists.html] than a single, up-and-coming author appearance.
If you attend local writer’s workshops and other writer community events, you already know the other authors in the same boat as you, so start with your closest connections and build from there. Don’t be concerned with building your group around a single genre since the goal is to expand your circles through each other’s networks.
Five or ten authors promoting an event will create significantly more buzz and attendance than one author doing it alone, and it’ll expose each author’s work to a fresh readership with every event. Your host will LOVE the traffic and be more inclined to have the group back for future events.
Ten is a good number to shoot for with the understanding that each author won’t make every event.
Align with a charity or non-profit organization that fits the material of your work or resonates with you personally.
Organizations such as Reading is Fundamental [http://www.rif.org/] and The National Children’s Reading Foundation [http://www.readingfoundation.org/] are always looking for donations of new and used books which they distribute to organizations nationwide. Local homeless shelters, prisons and military units too, are happy to accept book donations, and are usually open to sharing a website banner or placement of free printed advertising in their newsletters and other correspondence. Tie the donation of used books to your author appearances and you have the ability to cross promote your events with these types of organizations.
Consider which charities might have synergy with your material and make a list of potential partners to pitch.
Drive your readers to independent booksellers.
In the current economy, independent booksellers are under tremendous pressure to compete with the big box bookstores, and are much more inclined to support authors who support them. Indiebound [http://indiebound.org] and The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) [http://www.naiba.com/] are both open to cross-promotion including author events, banner swaps and print ad placement.
Provide links to Indiebound from your website, blog and social media outposts and let your local independents know you’re on their team.
Mine your material for logical product promotional opportunities.
Product placement can be a slippery slope, but more and more we see this tack being adopted in all facets of the entertainment industry.
Is your protagonist addicted to a certain type of chewing gum, soft drink or snack food? No matter what your creative motivation for making this part of your character’s personality, there’s no reason you can’t contact the manufacturer of the product to let them know their stuff is being advertised for free in the body of your work.
Legend has it that Myron Bolitar’s addiction to Yoo-Hoo in Harlan Coben’s breakout series of novels captured the attention of Yoo-Hoo’s marketing department who went on to provide free Yoo-Hoo for every book signing Coben did.
Creative use of cross promotion is a highly effective tactic for an up-and-coming author and has the ability to dramatically expand an author’s outreach into like-minded reader communities.
Don Lafferty is a sales executive, writer and, social media marketing consultant. He's the Social Media Director of the Wild River Review, and the Web's wackiest canine comedy series, It's Todd's Show. You can find his blog, Don Lafferty’s Strategies, Thoughts and Instructions for Including Social Media in Your Marketing Plan, at: