Mini-Marketing Campaigns by Katya Cengel

Bluegrass Baseball by Katya Cengel

Today we welcome back our guest columnist, Katya Cengel. Katya shares tips about how to set up mini-marketing campaigns for your books, and tells about how she set a campaign for her book, Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life.

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Baseball is back. The Giants, the A’s the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Lexington Legends. You probably haven’t heard of the last two teams. That’s because they are in the minors, in Kentucky. But if you are a baseball fan it is my job to sell you on their story, the universal story of life in the minors as told in my book Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life. And this being the beginning of baseball season that is exactly what I am doing.

As a writer, marketing wasn’t something I thought too hard about before my first book was released in September 2012. I wrote a few paragraphs about marketing in my book proposal, but somehow it didn’t really register that I actually would be involved in the marketing of my book. A few months before the release, I got the hint. My publisher, University of Nebraska Press, sent me flyers to distribute. They did a great job securing interviews for me and sending my book to reviewers. But having worked at a newspaper and having received my share of advance copies, I knew it would take more than a free book to get an editor interested. So I set to work launching my own mini-marketing campaign.

I set up book signings in California, where I live, and in Kentucky, where the book is set. Although Bluegrass Baseball came out at the end of the 2012 baseball season, I was able to arrange signings at all of the games of the four teams I profiled in the book.

Before each appearance I contacted members of the local media. I did radio, newspaper and even television interviews. I felt like a broken record saying the same thing over and over again and wondered if it was worth it. Then I overheard people commenting: “That’s the book I heard about on the radio,” or “That’s the writer who was in the paper.” One woman came to a signing holding a crumpled copy of the newspaper article that had mentioned my appearance. It was clear the interviews and appearances were making a difference, but how much of a difference wasn’t clear until I checked my sales on Amazon.

Amazon has a tool that allows authors to see where their books have sold and when. On a map of the United States there were little marks all over where people had bought my book, and huge clusters in California and Kentucky where hundreds of people had bought Bluegrass Baseball. The numbers dipped as soon as the signings and appearances ended. Now that baseball season is back, I am at it again.

Here are a few of the things I learned last time around.

  • Make yourself available: When your publisher asks you to do an interview, do it, and any others that come your way.
  • Set up signings and promote them: Work with local book stores to put together a signing, then work on getting the word out by contacting local media outlets.
  • Partner with other authors: Find authors with similar styles or subject matter and join up to do signings and workshops.
  • Widen your network: Reach out to the library, join groups on LinkedIn and find exhibits that focus on your topic. The Baseball Federation of Armenia happens to have a copy of Bluegrass Baseball.
  • Review books: People who read books are more likely to read your book, which you can mention in your bio at the bottom of the review.

Speaking of reviews, you might want to check out my rumpus reviews http://therumpus.net/?s=katya+cengel. You can learn all about Bluegrass Baseball this Saturday at 9:45 a.m. Pacific when I am on the San Francisco Giants pregame show on KNBR 680. I will be teaching writing workshops at the Central Coast Writers’ Conference in San Luis Obispo in September, and at Writers Forum in Petaluma in November.

You can find out more about my work and Bluegrass Baseball, a finalist for the 2013 Kentucky Literary Award, at www.katyacengel.com.

See how easy it is? Now it’s your turn.

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Editor’s note: Thanks, Katya, for your tips! You make it sound so easy! Good luck with your mini-marketing campaigns.

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Katya Cengel headshotKatya Cengel has written about everything from retired dancing bears in Bulgaria to the world’s largest machine gun shoot in Kentucky. She spent half a decade reporting from the former Soviet Union for English language newspapers and the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, and Marie Claire. She has reported from Africa, India, Europe, the Middle East and Haiti, and spent eight years as a writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. More at her site: www.katyacengel.com. On Facebook: Katya Cengel. On Twitter @kcengel.

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