Friday, July 2, 2010

Getting Back on Track: Reviews and Marketing Tips

Just one month after The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook (2010, Timber Press) was published, I was suddenly sidelined because of health issues I hadn't seen coming. It's a story for another blog, but it set me back with my book marketing plans.

First, I missed Food Lust, a big food event at Willie Green's Organic Farm where I'd imagined myself mingling with movers and shakers of local food publications, foodies, and farm enthusiasts. Instead, I was staring out the window in the hospital room, thinking about that great dinner and auction I'd missed.

Then, I spent weeks recovering and reading compelling books like Wisdom of the Last Farmer by David Mas Masumoto. I love inspiring stories but as reality set in, I was beginning to feel a little down about missed marketing opportunities. Then, my spirits rose again when Sheryl Wiser of Cascade Harvest Coalition wrote a great review of The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook for this month's edition of the Cascade Harvest Coalition newsletter.

A few days later The Sound Outlook, from Marlene's Market and Deli in Federal Way and Tacoma arrived and I smiled when I turned to my first 'Take 5" column about 5 super summer vegetables. The two page spread with a recipe from my book also listed my upcoming appearance at Marlene's in Federal Way on July 11 at 1pm. Just reading my column seemed proof that no matter what happens while marketing my book, the plan may slow down but it can keep percolating along.

During this downtime, I also revisited one of my favorite marketing books, From Book to Best Seller by Penny Sansevieri.

Here are five tips borrowed from Sansevieri for things you can do (even while laid-up) to add to your notebook:

1. Create postcards with your book image on the front. Put whatever you like on the back. I included a tip list for selecting the best produce. Tip sheets tend to be saved more than blank postcards. I give postcards and loan my book sign to bookstores to announce my appearances. I also pass out postcards to friends and to some farmers at the market.

2. Include marketing material with all mail and email that leaves your house or computer. (Large companies do it, why shouldn't you?) A handy tip sheet with the image of your book is one idea. Whatever you create make sure it has all the specs for your book--publisher, size, page number, plus any favorable short reviews.

3. Spy on your competitors' Web sites, google them to see what they've been up to, then copy the strategies you like. For example, one cookbook author hosted a contest cookbook giveaway for her book on well-known blogger's blog. Another hosted a tour of a peach orchard to support her dessert book, and a third cookbook author gave a cooking demo and talk at a community garden. The contest giveaway sounds most intriguing to me while I'm still recuperating.

4. Create a media kit with a book image, an author bio, fact sheet about the book, tip sheet, interview questions, reviews, and a press release. You can put the media kit on your Web site and direct media to it or send it by snail mail to announce your book.

5. Give books away. When my book was first released, I donated a number of books to PCC Farmland Trust to help raise donations. (Tom helped me deliver the signed books for the lucky winners.) Later, Kelly from Farmland Trust sent a note of thanks that said: "People are so pleased to hear they've won something." And it feels good to know I made someone else feel good by donating my book. Good feelings are contagious--try giving your own book away and see if it's true. One place to consider is Book Crossing , a unique concept that involves releasing your book (at a local cafe, coffee or bagel shop, for example) and following it's journey around the globe. Sansevieri says, "If you love your book, set it free."

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