Small Business Saturday, which takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the United States, is an event designed to encourage shoppers to support small and local businesses, including authors! This year, it falls on November 25th.
Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which primarily benefit large retail chains and e-commerce giants. There was definitely a gap for small business and entrepreneurs that needed to be filled. We talked about Black Friday in last week’s post.
Small Business Saturday aims to boost the economy at the grassroots level. By spotlighting small, independently-owned businesses — from authors and bookstores and cafes to boutiques, craft shops, and fitness centers — the day promotes the idea that consumer spending can have a significant, positive impact on local communities. And it certainly can! The event has grown in popularity, gaining support and recognition from businesses, consumers, and even government entities who advocate for the success of small enterprises.
Authors can promote their books in many different and effective ways, which I have written about a great deal. Here are some ideas.
Today, I’m going to focus on lesser-known ways for authors to promote their books, so that you have more options to choose from. Here are a few of them:
Storytelling Marathon: Host a storytelling marathon featuring local authors at a community center or local bookstore. Each author can read excerpts from their books, discuss the stories behind their writings, or tell stories that resonate with local history and culture. You can sell copies there and autograph them. You could have a bookstore actually handle the sales for you and they will count toward your numbers.
“Adopt-a-Bookstore” Campaign: Start an “Adopt-a-Bookstore” campaign where authors partner with a local bookstore to help promote each other. Authors can spend part of the day at the bookstore recommending books (including their own) and engaging with customers. The bookstore will market to its lists to bring more people in.
Local History or Themes Tie-in: If your book relates to local history, culture, or landmarks, organize a walking tour or a talk at a relevant local spot. For instance, a historical fiction author could hold a reading at a local historical society or landmark relevant to their book’s setting.
Interactive Workshops: Offer workshops in local bookstores or community spaces, focusing on writing, storytelling, or publishing. You can tailor these workshops to different age groups or interest levels to attract a broad audience.
Limited Edition Local Collaboration: It’s too late this year, but next year you could release a Small Business Saturday special edition of your book. This could feature a unique cover by a local artist, include supplementary stories or illustrations about local legends, or be bundled with products from local artisans (like handmade bookmarks, locally-roasted coffee, etc.). The number of creative things you can do is really endless!
Scavenger Hunt: Organize a book-themed scavenger hunt across multiple small businesses. Clues can be related to your book or to literature in general, with each participating store hiding a clue that leads to the next. This can drive traffic to various small businesses and culminate in a signing or meet-and-greet with you.
Auction or Raffle for a Cause: Host a charity auction or raffle, where the prizes include signed copies of your books, exclusive one-on-one coaching, or – if you’re a fiction writer – the chance to be named as a character in your next book. (Janet Evanovich does this all the time in her Stephanie Plum novels.) Proceeds could go to a local charity or cause, deepening your local connections.
Pop-Up Book Readings: Arrange surprise pop-up readings or book talks in unexpected local business venues, like coffee shops, parks, or even farmers’ markets. This can create a buzz and draw attention to both your book and the participating businesses. I recently attended the Portland Book Festival and they had pop-up book readings all over the place. It was wonderful.
Utilize Hashtags and Social Media Campaigns: Use hashtags like #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and #IndieAuthor to connect with broader movements online. This can help increase visibility not just for your books, but for the event as a whole.
As you can see, by participating in Small Business Saturday, authors not only get a chance to promote their work, but also to build stronger relationships with their local communities, support the local economy, and connect with fans, fellow authors, and others in the business community. It’s also an excellent opportunity to remind readers of the value and uniqueness that independent authors bring to the literary world. As we know they do!
To your success!
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