Think Big

Last month, I posted about how to use your vacation time wisely and sell books. This month, I have some incredible opportunities for you. You need to get your name out there. So let’s look at how the big PR companies market stuff, and see how we can do it on a shoestring budget:

You might have seen those Double Decker buses with huge posters of the latest film slapped on their sides. Apparently, buses are seen by millions of people a week, so advertising on them seems sensible. I ascertained that it costs about £50 a week (minimum 4 weeks advertising) to advertise on the little space at the back of ordinary single deck buses. With my super scrimper method, you can advertise for a fraction of that cost.

You’ll need an accomplice; a poster advertising your book, and two all day passes to travel the bus routes. We tried it out using all the buses in Birmingham and it only cost us £10.00 total. My friend found a packet of Extra Strong Mints and a pound coin under one of the seats too, so that brought it down to just under £9.00.

Climb on board a bus and bagsy the back seat. You sit one end, while your accomplice sits the other. When no one is looking, unfurl the banner/poster advertising your book, and display in the back window, supporting it at each end with the back of your heads. Every car that gets held up behind you will see your book.

If the bus driver gets annoyed with you, change buses and do the same again on another bus.

Result: a cheap day out and hundreds of people will have seen your name and book.

Banner trailing. It costs a gazillion pounds to advertise by trailing a banner from an aeroplane (at least that’s what my husband told me). To emulate this form of advertising you require, one large banner advertising your book and one car.

Attach banner firmly (and I do mean firmly or it’ll blow off and land on the windscreen of an Eddie Stobart lorry, blinding the driver and sending him veering into the central reservation (Sorry Colin. I hope the broken leg is healing well.)

Once the banner is attached, drive the car up and down the motorway so all the folk on the carriageways can see it.

Important advice – this is a highly illegal so make sure you have a very fast car to outrun any highway patrol vehicles who decide to chase you.

How about renting an “advertising van” with driver for a mere £250 per day? Not likely. Use your own vehicle and put posters of your book in all the back windows. Better still, use a DIY spray can of bright paint and write your book title on the back of the car and along the side panels. Surely your other half won’t mind?

Cinema advertising is diverse. Typically three cinemas with 25 screens would cost from £6,500 per week. For the cost of a few leaflets and a cinema ticket, you can achieve similar results.

Choose a film that is in the same genre as your book. Stand outside the screen holding a torch so you look official. Give out leaflets advertising your book and offering people a discount when they purchase it. They’ll automatically associate it with the film and keep the leaflet.

Getting front window space in a bookshop costs mega bucks. Only extremely wealthy publishing houses can afford to get their authors’ books in the window of somewhere like Waterstones.

To grab front window attention for your latest novel, you will need: a t-shirt advertising your book and a few copies of your book.

Go to the front window of large bookshop. Take off your coat to reveal the t-shirt displaying your book. Stand in front of the window. If you can stand very still, people may even think you are a part of the window display. The books are there just in case anyone wants to buy a copy.

Warning – the staff are likely to suss you in the end and send out the bodyguards to shoo you away. You can either bluff it out or scarper. There is also the chance they might send for the police. If that is so, take extra copies of your book to sell to bored inmates at the local jail.

Celebrity endorsements increase book sales. If you are best mates with a celebrity then get your photo taken with them holding your book immediately. Most of us however, have to resort to cunning plan Bs. Phone up a lookalike agency and see if any of their actors would like to have their picture taken with your book. Failing that, go on your own personal scout and find someone who looks like a celebrity, then bribe them into having their photo taken. Still no joy? Try a full size cut out of a celebrity. I thought I had cracked this when my local car dealership held an Event with the Stars. I charged along to discover cardboard copies of Johnny Depp, Justin Bieber and Marilyn Monroe all standing by cars. The only problem was that someone hadn’t got them to scale, so by the time I’d set them up with my book, they looked like cast members of The Borrowers. If you can’t find a celebrity then you can always Photoshop a photo!

TV Advertising costs over £3000 here. Being on a television show is also a marvellous way of attracting attention. You probably won’t get to sit on the sofa with Oprah but sign up for any TV show possible. Try out for tickets to be in the audience or quiz shows. If you get selected for a quiz show you’ll get a chance to have a few words about yourself. Mention your book. Also try to get the name of your book into as many sensible answers as possible. “Which book by Charles Dickens contained the character, Tiny Tim?” “Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines.” If quizzing is beyond you, then audience participation will not be. Get onto one of those shows where cameras always focus on the audience. Make sure you are wearing your t-shirt (mentioned above) and if possible also wear a hat with cover of your book on it, and have a large sign which you can hold up that says “Buy my book”. It’s got to be as effective as chatting to Jay Leno, hasn’t it?

So there you have a few simple, cheap and effective ways to get your name out there. Also, there is another super bonus of attempting these marketing ideas. You are sure to end up on the front page of the national press for coming up with such ludicrous ideas, and causing mayhem (make sure you wear your t-shirt to court for those photo opportunities). At least people know who you are!

Author: Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post. For more about Carol, go to her website or her Amazon author page.

45 thoughts on “Think Big”

  1. The bus idea sounded good, but then I remembered that Metro buses in DC don’t have back windows. On to the hardware store for spray paint! Thanks for idea, Carol! 🙂

  2. Excellent – do you think the cheapy orange airline will mind if I stick a banner out of the window?

  3. Funny post…loved it. Hey…you could also have two large magnetic signs made up and rent a panel van for the day. Stick the signs on both sides of the van and drive up and down the highway. People are sure to think the van is loaded with your books on their way to delivery at their local books stores.

    I also thought about using an organ grinder with a monkey holding a sign…but it’s really hard to get permits for live animals. 🙂

      1. One must always be careful when using animals….before the monkey idea popped into my nearly empty head…I tried putting on sun glasses and walking around town very stiffly with my german shepherd in the lead….she didn’t really take to the idea of wearing a metal coat with a magnetic sign … now I type with only two fingers. 🙂

          1. Glad it made yo smile. Without humor…the days would really be drab.

            Whenever things get too rough…I just break out lauging………, wait….that’s my psychosis……….let me get back to you on that one.

  4. Mm, you’ve given me an idea! I am leaving Cyprus to move back to the UK. I think I will print off a few bookmarks, and leave them inside the magazines they have to tempt you. When I land, I will dot a few around the airport, and especially, WHSmith near the books. We have to get a train, so I will leave a few lying around on that, too! No bus trip … yet! LOL

    How about sticky note ads. Pop one onto a Coldstream guard outside Buckingham palace. They are not allowed to move, and loads of folk hang around them trying! A great 12 hour free spot! LOL

    1. Glynnis you are a genius! I forgot about the guards outside Buck Pal. Race you there!
      I leave postcards of my books in the wash areas of the toilets. They always get picked up!
      Bon voyage.

  5. Erm, I actually did this at the Olympics! The relevant book is titled Hopes, Dreams, Medals – I wore a Hopes Dreams Medals Tee shirt everywhere, and even got some athletes to sign my copy of the book at the Olympic trials in Birmingham (making sure I had a few copies in case anybody asked) Now, I really must try out the rest of these. Where’s the nearest bus stop! Great article, you aren’t really joking are you???

    1. I am seriously, and I mean seriously impressed Loretta. I shall have to check youand your book out now. Maybe I should get tips from you. Me, joke? Never!

      1. Haha, thanks. But I must admit you’ve got my brain cogs working around some more marketing ideas too now. I am thinking along the lines of bookmarks, as you suggested. I already give business cards out like sweeties! I love the idea of going on a quiz show! That cracked me up!

        1. My husband is/was a terrific salesman and he told me to just give out as many business cards as possible. Try putting them in bags with a few sweets…old fashioned Black Jacks etc. People love that and remember your card more. I have applied for several quiz shows so we’ll see how that works..

          1. I just found another cunning plot! On my way home from a charity ball up North where I was invited to do a book signing, I was waylaid at a motorway service station by some make up sales people. I read them a few poems from my book, we stayed over night, and when I went in the next day they had different sales people there. They said “Oh, you’re the poet!” got their phones out and took videos of me doing another of my comic ones (about make up! Lucky I’d written one about that) Apparently they intend to post me to the internet! Lets hope I go viral, lol! So, make sure you sell back to sales people! I sold one to a doible glazing salesman once! I was quite proud of that one!

  6. PS, I also attached a large car magnet to my husband’s car (when I asked if he would mind he thought I meant a teeny weeny one! Hahahahahahah) He was good enough to leave it on for a few months. I just love this article of yours but I’m not absolutely convinced of the impossibility of doing some of your suggestions – only joking! Honest!

  7. Great article, Carol! Here is another one for your collection. Matt Patterson, author of “My Emily” always goes straight to the electonics section when he goes to Staples/Best Buy/etc and inputs his book into all the reading tablets there. He also sets his book on the seat at the airport when he is waiting and people see it. Just another one for your bag of tricks!! I have to try the vacation one…not sure about the bus!

    1. I have to confess that I do that too and even go into apple stores where I set all the pages to my website! Must try putting my book onto a seat though at the airport or on abus. Thanks Patrick.

  8. Carol, wonderful advice. I love the way you’re only half-joking with some of things – although I don’t I’d have the guts to try any of them! 🙂

    1. You know me too well, Chris. I would happily try out all of them if I didn’t get in trouble with you-know-who! Still, he is coming round to my way of thinking and I shall reveal more next post as to how your spouse can help, after all, we are far too busy being creative to promote!

  9. Brilliant article, Carol. I t made me smile – and it also made me think. I’ve clearly missed a marketing trick or two. Love the bus idea but living in a rural area very few people would see the banner on the back window!

    1. Many thanks Mary.How about spraying the title of your books on a few sheep? They often have markings to identify them and if you cleared it with the farmer…

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