As part bookstore, part book recommendation engine, and part blog, Bookish is certainly the kind of website that you want to be keeping an eye on as a self-publisher. As we’ve covered in an earlier article, it’s a joint venture between a few traditional publishing companies — Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. While right now it only appears to feature self-published works that already have a large audience, it’s still full of great content like clever listsicles (in professional blog writer speak, those are fun, short lists meant for the internet) or guest posts from popular writers. We also think it’s important to look at what traditional publishers are doing to adapt to the current marketplace and learn from what they’re trying out, so even if you aren’t interested in using Bookish as a consumer, it’s good to know what they’re up to.
Still, it is a website that not a lot of people outside the industry know about, so I was surprised to spot a New York subway ad for Bookish on my commute home today. Apparently they were put up in June, and they’re all meant to celebrate classic works of literature in a fun and interesting way. Check them out below:
Obviously it would be difficult for a self-publisher to rent out an entire subway ad in such a big city. After all, Bookish is traditionally funded, so they have a lot of money to throw at the City of New York! However, if you want to try advertising your book out in the world beyond the scope of the Internet, you’re not completely out of luck. There are a lot of much more affordable things you can try to get attention.
While you can’t exactly rent out a billboard, you might try placing some book-related stickers or posters on the occasional lamppost to catch the eye of passersby — so long as it’s legal where you live, of course. You’d be surprised at how effective they can be! For example, on my walk from the subway to my office, I’ve been stopped in my tracks by the tiniest of notices if it’s compelling enough, and I’ll usually take a picture with my phone to remember it for later. Even big companies use small examples of viral marketing like that to get attention – when the video game LA Noir was released a few years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere in Manhattan without seeing a sticker on the sidewalk with the title of the game on it.
If you’d rather not involve yourself in DIY guerrilla marketing, then you might also try carving out a niche for yourself at an independently run venue. For example, many independently coffee shops have bulletin boards or pamphlet tables available for you to put your own materials on if you ask in advance. You might also ask your independent book store to feature your book in a display if you’ve decided to shop it around on consignment. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
(images via Bookish)