As a self-published author without much stashed for advertising, I routinely manage to get a little attention for my novels all over the world. It begins with a friend, an airline ticket, and my modern day “message in a bottle.”
Here’s how it works. The next time a friend (or relative) is heading overseas, send along a copy of your book. Get a photo of the novel (with the cover nicely displayed) beside a famous landmark. My current Facebook cover photo was taken by Jade Ryan in Prague.
Then have the book left in some well-trafficked area, say a hotel lobby or busy cafe. Inside the front cover, you will have already pasted a short note. Mine says:
Dear Friend, By chance, you have happened on my “message in a bottle.” It has made its way into your hands all the way from my home in Rockville, MD, a quiet town outside of Washington, D.C. My message is simple. I have written a story about two unlikely political allies, and the dark secret upon which they have built their careers. You can learn more about me and my first novel, Bella, at www.stevepiacente.com.Though we are worlds apart, I hope you will send me a message as well, at: email@example.com I very much appreciate your interest. If you like Bootlicker, please tell your friends and help us spread the word.
The idea has produced exotic photos from Greece, Italy, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, and India. They’re all here on my Pinterest board.
My daughter Ali was recently in Chennai, India, and left a copy of Bootlicker with Ashish and Rucha Gupta, owners of the Footprint Bed and Breakfast.
And the aforementioned Jade Ryan was en route back from Germany when she struck up a conversation with Cheryl from California. Somewhere over the Atlantic, Bootlicker wound up in Cheryl’s hands. Sometime later, I received an email that said:
“I was on a flight home from Europe when I met a very nice young woman who had been one of your students … As we were about to get off of the flight, she handed me your book, Bootlicker. I enjoyed it and the end brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it’s because I’m a 60-year-old Californian and can remember the injustice of the early South. In any case I will be passing your book along to some other readers!”
I’d love to know what others have done to build grassroots support for their novels. Please drop a comment and share your stories.