No matter how you publish your book, promotion is key to getting it seen. As the author, you know your work better than anyone. This can give you the distinct advantage to 'sell' your book to potential readers. Here are some things you can do to connect with potential readers in person:
Book Launches: Whether associated with a specific bookstore, or held at your local cafe, book launches are a great way to promote your book, draw awareness and a crowd. Depending on the venue, you can include beverages, readings, Q&A sessions, signings, merchandise, and background on your project. This is your chance to convince your audience to buy a copy. Some locations will expect a cut of those sales, so be sure to price your books accordingly.
Readings: Readings are an intimate way to draw people into your story. You can breathe life into your characters and leave your listeners wanting to know more. Be sure to choose a scene that is easy to dive into without a lot of explanation. Try to keep it under 5 minutes to ensure you retain attention. Remember to introduce yourself and set up the scene, especially if you're part of a larger event with other readers. Many cafes and shops organize and host Open Mics where you can read. (If you're uncomfortable with readings, please refer to my tips on giving a reading.)
Emerging Author Collections: Many libraries and bookstores like to promote local talent. Have a look in your area for Local or Emerging Author collections. These generally need to be screened by the store manager or librarian, and many expect your book to be donated or on consignment. It gives you an opportunity to get your book on shelves, seen by unknown new readers, and reach a wider audience. Remember to promote your acceptance in these collections so people know where to check out your work!
Conventions: Book fairs, conventions and conferences are a great place to meet people who are already interested in your topic. They happen all over the world, at all times of the year. Depending on your availability and budget, you can select the events that are the best match for your book. You will need to pre-order some copies to take with you to sell. You can also get payment acceptance methods like Square that enable you to accept credit card transactions on site. This is a great way to meet and greet with others in the industry, including fellow authors, retailers, agents and readers.
Contests: A great way to gain some publicity is by putting your work out there. There are plenty of contests in magazines, newspapers and with local business that you can enter. Sometimes these are for new material, which if accepted gives you the opportunity to get your name, book title or website published alongside your entry. Others are for excerpts from existing work or for whole works. There are also some contests like the 3DayNovel contest or National Novel Writing Month that push authors to create something new in a limited time-frame. Keep on writing!
Looking for some guidance on promoting your book online? Check out this companion piece!