Armchair BEA: Tips to Networking Offline

Today’s topic is networking and working with your local community. I don’t have some big story to share, so instead I figured I would share some tips of what I do to network and work with my community in the little ways! Where I live there aren’t often book signings within a 3 hour drive, so I don’t really have many chances to “meet people”. I know many other bloggers face that problem as well.

There are other ways to promote and network though. I figured I’d give you all a few suggestions that I used as a band promoter and have since adapted to use for my blog and the books I love! Getting your blog in the community is awesome, but I love just sharing books with people. I focus on that, but also try to include the blog.

Before you do anything: Communicate with the facility – ask if it’s ok! Tell them upfront what you want to do. Ask for other suggestions, they may have something they are wanting to do that you can help with. Typically they know what will work for their audience. 

  • Get business cards and/or bookmarks! Get other swag! I’ve looked into having yoyos made up for an upcoming event. Even if you don’t attend events, you’ll want things to hand out when you do other things. I leave business cards at the library (at the desk and in books), book stores, and even at the post office! Carry some with you all of the time. You never know when you might find someone who might be interested.
  • Talk with the librarians! In exchange for putting out my “goodies”, I give them recommendations. My local library has a “recommendation shelf”. They even fill out little papers and put those in the book with reasons people might like the book – they sometimes quote my reviews!
  • Book donations! This helps you both. Donate books you have extras of or that you weren’t crazy about. It clears your shelves and gives them new books to share with readers! Try libraries, local charities, even some jails will take them. Call or email around and see what they can use and what they will or will not take.
  • Another promo idea: Community bulletin boards! Schools, libraries, and even sometimes stores have bulletin boards you can clip anything to. Make up flyers (or put up your business cards). I’ve done fliers with tear-offs that had my URL on them. I’ve put some up in stores that don’t even sell books that have gotten torn from.
  • If you review YA – talk to schools or libraries about working with teens to review for you! In exchange for a book (or two), this gets them writing AND reading. I’ve also heard of some bloggers work with libraries to set up ARC shelves that the teens can use in exchange for reviews.
  • Talk with teen groups about reviewing! I’m in the process of getting together with a local group to discuss blogging, reviewing, and books in general.
  • Books gone to movies: Check out places that sell music and movies! For popular ones there are often “parties”. Get involved! If a movie is coming out, see about doing some joint promo for the book. Same with the movie soundtrack! Even midnight showings are great ways to meet book lovers! For Breaking Dawn, I stocked up on business cards and chatted with people in line and at the theater about OTHER books I love!
  • See if your community does any sort of “events”. See if you can volunteer, donate prizes, or anything! Our library hosts “read-a-thons” for adults and children and summer reading challenges. I always get involved in some manner!
  • If they don’t do events, talk with the library, bookstores, or schools about doing events of your own! It’s a cheap and effective way to get people to their store or library and it gets people reading.
  • At book stores, chat with the employees (especially those that work in your genre) or managers. I’ve chatted with them for upcoming event info and just introduced myself. I’ve not “worked” with them yet, but I’m hoping that’ll come in time.
  • Another book store idea? Recommend books to shoppers! If I see someone pick up a book I love, I mention it to them. I try not to be annoying, but I might say “Oh, I loved that book!” If they engage me in conversation, great! If not, it’s not a big deal. I’ve actually sold many books this way.

Do any of you have ideas on getting the word about your blog or books out there? Have you tried any of my suggestions?