Indie Authors: Offline Marketing Strategies

Although online marketing (emails, social media, etc.) are important and can be an effective way to encourage sales of books, offline marketing can be just as powerful. And passing out tangible goods and interacting face to face can help create more loyal fans and stronger networks.

Tangible Goods

Journey of a Storyteller writes about creating promo cards. Basically, you can order cards from Vista Print and design them to show off the cover or an image of the book on one side and an excerpt and information about where to find the book on the back.

I’ve tried this technique out in the past, but with a twist. Instead of postcards, I printed business cards specifically for my book. The front side had the cover and the back had the title, book description, and QR code and url to where readers could purchase the book. I passed out these cards at publishing meetup groups and conferences, and it led to some sales.

Bestseller labs details Hugh Howey’s promotional campaign for Wool, where he created custom Fallout Shelter flash drives that contained all the ebooks. He gave away 10 of these drives in a Rafflecopter giveaway, which had over 24,000 entries. He also coupled it with a high-quality book trailer video. But what he did best was to identify his brand and come up with a unique concept to promote it. The design of the video and flash drive all tied in with the theme of Wool.

In-Person Events

Painting With Light discusses whether or not appearing at events in person is worth the time and effort. Ultimately, the answer is…yes.

there’s something special about meeting an author in person, hearing him speak and getting a book signed. A connection is formed that puts a human face on the book that makes it memorable and there’s a good chance people you meet will become fans, buy your book (and your future books) and tell their friends about the experience.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun while promoting your book. Strive to attend three events in person throughout the year, such as book festivals, readings, writer conferences, library reading groups, or even classes (as a guest speaker). Be friendly and shake hands with everyone, always making eye contact.

The Loneliest Planet offers another idea for offline marketing: fringe festivals. Randy Ross explains how he used a few scenes from his novel and turned them into a play, which he entered in a theater fringe festival. Here are some of the benefits he reaped:

  • mentions and listings in show programs
  • reviews from theater critics
  • pull quotes
  • appearing on the first page of Google search results.
  • ticket sales

It is also helpful to have a press kit, which may include

  • a press release
  • images of the book cover, logo, and author photo
  • PDF version of any print materials you may have (promo cards, etc.)
  • book trailer video (and/or link to one)
  • excerpt, and
  • a book description and release date.


Sometimes good old-fashioned advertising can work. This can include ads in magazines or local newspapers, or reaching out to local media for interviews.

Another approach might be coffee.

Java Ads is a company that works with small chains and independently owned coffee shops in several cities to advertise on coffee cups. People can pay Java Ads to have a QR code, coupons, or ads on millions of cups. According to the site, “customers will hold and stare at your ad for an average of 37 minutes.”

What do you think? Any other out-of-the-box ideas for offline marketing? Share in the comments!


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