Homegrown Marketing Strategies

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by Niki Jabbour

When my first book, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, was nearing release in late 2011, I realized that I needed a game plan to spread the word. My publisher had an in-house marketing department but that didn’t mean I shouldn’t also take responsibility for my book’s marketing. I began to talk to fellow authors, research marketing strategies, and scour the internet for advice and ideas.

From my research I developed a marketing game plan. I joined social media (better late than never!), placed the typical author order of postcards and bookmarks (waste of time and money), and wrote posts on my blog (definitely worthwhile). Since then, I’ve written two more books. With my latest one set for release in 2017 I’m once again beginning to shift into marketing mode.

My marketing strategies have changed dramatically since that first book in 2011. I’m more active in GWA. I travel across North America to talk to gardeners at clubs, shows, botanical gardens, and conservatories. I’ve even become a savvy social media marketer. Here are four homegrown marketing strategies gleaned from my experience that I’ll be using in 2017.

DIY Book Tour – For most authors, multi-city book tours are a thing of the past. Instead organize a blog tour, where you write a guest post or are interviewed by a blogger. Blog tours are economical and relatively easy to organize. They’re also a great way to reach a targeted gardening audience. GWA membership gives you a head start this because so many great bloggers are members! Make each blog post/interview unique and provide a book for a giveaway.

Book Trailer – If you are willing to sell your book on camera then book trailers will be good for you. Book trailers have been around for years but few authors or publishers take advantage of this visual marketing strategy. Why? Likely because a well-made book trailer costs money. But books trailers are a snap to share on social media and YouTube. They reach a wide, targeted audience, only need to be 2-3 minutes long, and can be filmed on an iPhone (grab your teenager to help). Make your trailer fun and be sure to share a few tidbits from your book – teaser alert!

Facebook Live – Since its launch in 2015, Facebook Live has become an instant, high-impact way to quickly reach a large audience – and one with the power to share! Start by introducing yourself and your book. Then share a good tip that is related to your book or answer questions from the viewers. Good content will encourage “shares” of your video and help you reach even more potential customers. Don’t forget to ask your viewers to subscribe to your live videos so that whenever you post a new one, they’ll automatically get a notification.

The Golden Rule – Your parents may have taught you the golden rule when you were a child, but it applies to the grown-up world of book promotion too. If you want people to share and support your book or projects, share and support theirs. When fellow GWA members, bloggers, or social media friends release a new book I make an effort to review it, blog about it, and share it on my social media platforms. What goes around, comes around.

I’ll conclude with some marketing tips from six best-selling authors. Here’s to your marketing success with your next book.

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Jessica Walliser, author of several books, including Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden:

Don’t neglect the small stuff. Put your book title in your email signature. Include a personal note in review copies. Send copies to some of your “horticultural idols” with a brief note about how they inspired you. Do an email blast about the book, offering your email subscribers 10% off a signed copy during your book’s release week.

Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes and Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales:

Put yourself in the hands of your publicist and just say “yes” to everything – every suggested conference, talk, or bookstore appearance. After you do them, talk about your events on Facebook and blog about them. Join professional groups like GWA and Facebook groups like “Business of Garden Writing” and talk about your book. You may find yourself getting invited to do podcasts or radio show appearances. Just say “Yes!”

Doug Oster, author of several books, including Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil:

Always mention the title and how to get a copy when referencing the book in interviews. Have a kick ass story that will sell the book when you’re speaking live and in interviews. When giving talks, ensure that books sales happen as soon as you’re done speaking so that the crowd can buy the book. Make it easy for them to buy your book. If you take credit cards, you’ll always sell more books.

Amanda Thomsen, author of Kiss My Aster:

We got the most mileage out of temporary tattoos that mimicked the tattoo I have on my arm. These got shared a lot on social media. Bookplates that I could sign and send to readers or pass out if we sold out of books at an event were also a hit. These things created conversations, not just transactions. Fun and weird is usually welcome in selling a book.

Shawna Coronado, author of several books including 101 Organic Gardening Hacks:

One of the new things I have tried in marketing my book 101 Organic Gardening Hacks for pre-sales is Facebook Live. While some aspects of Facebook have been falling off, my Facebook Live event got 7,500 views and pushed me to the category of #1 New Release in Urban Gardening on Amazon.com. During the Facebook Live session I showed my book emphasizing the art and the photographs while flipping through the pages so readers could see how colorful it is. Definitely give Facebook Live a try and see if it helps you in pre-sales.

Tara Nolan, author of Raised Bed Revolution:

I zeroed in on the projects from my book that I knew would do well on social media platforms. For example, my lettuce table created from an antique dining table is a unique project. I did a couple of guest posts about it on a couple of blogs (ensuring that the copy differed for each) and really talked that one up when doing media. Seasonality is another angle you can play to. Adjust your pitches accordingly.

Meet the Author

Niki Jabbour.jpgNiki Jabbour is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener and Groundbreaking Food Gardens, both from Storey Publishing. Her third book which focuses on the unusual global crops she grows in her backyard will be released in 2017. Find her at www.SavvyGardening.com and on social media.


Author: GardenComm

GardenComm, formerly known as GWA: the Association for Garden Communicators, provides leadership and opportunities for education, recognition, career development and a forum for diverse interactions for professionals in the field of gardening communication. GardenComm members includes book authors, bloggers, staff editors, syndicated columnists, free-lance writers, photographers, speakers, landscape designers, television and radio personalities, consultants, publishers, extension service agents and more. No other organization in the industry has as much contact with the buying public as GardenComm members.

One thought on “Homegrown Marketing Strategies”

  1. My most successful marketing strategy of my book Gardening from a Hammock has been to hit the road and do presentations to garden clubs and horticultural societies. Usually 50 per cent of the audience buys my signed book after my talk. I display a large roll-up sign with a photo of the book cover at the front of the audience and that puts the title on everyone’s mind. Sales at garden nurseries were not so successful with a lot of copies being ruined by water. Luckily the nurseries pre-pay.


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