As one of the directors of the TWGPH (Tobago Writers Guild Publishing House) and the marketing managing director of my digital marketing company, Caribbean Social Media HQ, most writers I’ve spoken to have said, that the things that hold them back the most from putting their work out there, are the fear that their work will fail, that the public won’t understand or appreciate it, that it’s not good enough and that dreaded imposter syndrome. If, however, they manage to get past all of those mind mines and start and then finish that book that’s locked up in their bones, the next question is, “How do I get my book into the hands of readers, thousands of readers?”
Compounded with this real concern are the recent global issues of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian/Ukrainian war. These have only stressed the need for Tobago authors to take advantage of the fact that they can obtain a real advantage in the digital realm, and sell thousands if not millions of books if they digitize their marketing strategy and embrace e-commerce (a conversation for another day). It impacts revenues, by extension profits and consequently livelihoods of our published authors while living on an island with little over 60,000 people. Your reach can be global, on a limited budget and even as an indie author (self-published). Fortunately, there are completely free ways to market your book – both on and offline. Here are my 14 free, fool proof ways to market your book on a zero dollar marketing budget.
1- Contact the TLS (Tobago Library Services) about their First Time Authors Appreciation Programme. Launched in 2010 it is is designed to applaud becoming a first time author, encourage new writers to publication, and to raise public awareness regarding the protection of intellectual property and the enforcement of copyright. It must be your first book and be done in your first year of publication.
2 - Offer to do a book reading. There are so many ways to connect with your reading audience through local reading events at the library. The TLS has book reading events at their two locations, Scarborough and Roxborough. If you wrote a children’s book, offer to read it at their children’s library, or to a primary and high school class in your village. If you wrote a book about birds, you might want to consider doing a reading at Grafton Bird Sanctuary with a local bird watching group
3 - Donate copies of your book. You never know how far your book at a local doctor’s or dentist’s office, NGO like Women of Substance, a THA (Tobago House of Assembly) office or church may go!
ONLINE MARKETING - SOCIAL PROFILES
4 - Create an author Facebook page. This is done by going to Facebook and creating a profile, so that you can create a page. Be sure to invite and encourage your family, friends and fans to share your page and to invite their friends to do likewise. There were 1,145,100 Facebook users from Trinidad & Tobago in May 2022, which accounted for 83.6% of our entire population. Those are a lot of eyeballs.
5 - Create Your Good Reads author profile. Being on Good Reads will make it easier for those who have read your book to create a review for your book. Be sure to also include some quotes from your book.
6 - Create a LinkedIn profile. This is a great way to network with professionals in your industry. You may also find partners who may want to help you promote your book.
7 - Create a Google My Business account. This is another social network where you can mingle with potential readers and publishing industry leaders. It also gives you a simple and more importantly, FREE website of your own.
8 - Add your book to your email signature. Be sure you have a link to all the places and virtual spaces where your book can be found and add your book summary in the footer of every email you send.
9 – Create an Instagram business account to promote our book. I guarantee you, it is a mistake, that is often made by Tobago authors, to ignore this platform as an author’s book marketing tool. Take pictures of people reading your book and create a few hashtags your audience can use if they read your book or snap a photo related to the topic. There were 663,100 Instagram users in Trinidad and Tobago, just in May 2022, which accounted for 48.4% of our entire population.
10 - Ask consignment shop owners to sell your book. One such welcoming space to Tobago books is Shore Things Café and Craft Shop in Lambeau. A lovely by the sea, local restaurant and chocolatier shop on the Old Milford Road. Owner, Giselle is a delight and this is a great way to gain exposure in your village community!
11 – Use eBook platforms. The TWG was introduced to one such platform in 2021 by Josanne Leonard of Miribai Communications Ltd. A subsequent free onboarding webinar for the authors of the Guild and the public was conducted with director Dwight Narinesingh of the Digital Canopi platform. This is a local company, where you can upload your book for free and no charge is incurred until you sell books. This webinar and more can be found on the Guild’s YouTube channel
12 - Join local writing groups and book clubs. Groups like the TWG (Tobago Writers Guild) present a supportive and fertile environment for burgeoning and seasoned writers alike. Added to meeting monthly for a creative session, they conduct workshops, lecture series, book sale events and more to support their members. Joining a book club like the TBC (Tobago Book Club) is another great marketing opportunity. Founded by daughter of the soil, Tobagonian Dr. Ariel Baptiste in 2017 it is a space where members of the Tobago book loving community can come together and share luxuriate in their love of reading. You can approach them with an offer to do a reading at one of their monthly meetings, donate a book to their library and be put on their monthly book review listing.
13 - Write a press release. Send your press release to your local media houses such as Tobago Updates, Tobago Channel 5, Radio Tambrin and local NGO’s and organisations so that you can be included in their news broadcasts and to announce to the local business sector that your new book is available and that you are open to collaborative opportunities.
14 - Email everyone you know to let them know about your book. You may have lost the numbers for many of your school friends but still have their email. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.
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