Armchair BEA: Tips to Networking Offline

Today’s topic is networking and working with your local community. I don’t have some big story to share, so instead I figured I would share some tips of what I do to network and work with my community in the little ways! Where I live there aren’t often book signings within a 3 hour drive, so I don’t really have many chances to “meet people”. I know many other bloggers face that problem as well.

There are other ways to promote and network though. I figured I’d give you all a few suggestions that I used as a band promoter and have since adapted to use for my blog and the books I love! Getting your blog in the community is awesome, but I love just sharing books with people. I focus on that, but also try to include the blog.

Before you do anything: Communicate with the facility – ask if it’s ok! Tell them upfront what you want to do. Ask for other suggestions, they may have something they are wanting to do that you can help with. Typically they know what will work for their audience. 

  • Get business cards and/or bookmarks! Get other swag! I’ve looked into having yoyos made up for an upcoming event. Even if you don’t attend events, you’ll want things to hand out when you do other things. I leave business cards at the library (at the desk and in books), book stores, and even at the post office! Carry some with you all of the time. You never know when you might find someone who might be interested.
  • Talk with the librarians! In exchange for putting out my “goodies”, I give them recommendations. My local library has a “recommendation shelf”. They even fill out little papers and put those in the book with reasons people might like the book – they sometimes quote my reviews!
  • Book donations! This helps you both. Donate books you have extras of or that you weren’t crazy about. It clears your shelves and gives them new books to share with readers! Try libraries, local charities, even some jails will take them. Call or email around and see what they can use and what they will or will not take.
  • Another promo idea: Community bulletin boards! Schools, libraries, and even sometimes stores have bulletin boards you can clip anything to. Make up flyers (or put up your business cards). I’ve done fliers with tear-offs that had my URL on them. I’ve put some up in stores that don’t even sell books that have gotten torn from.
  • If you review YA – talk to schools or libraries about working with teens to review for you! In exchange for a book (or two), this gets them writing AND reading. I’ve also heard of some bloggers work with libraries to set up ARC shelves that the teens can use in exchange for reviews.
  • Talk with teen groups about reviewing! I’m in the process of getting together with a local group to discuss blogging, reviewing, and books in general.
  • Books gone to movies: Check out places that sell music and movies! For popular ones there are often “parties”. Get involved! If a movie is coming out, see about doing some joint promo for the book. Same with the movie soundtrack! Even midnight showings are great ways to meet book lovers! For Breaking Dawn, I stocked up on business cards and chatted with people in line and at the theater about OTHER books I love!
  • See if your community does any sort of “events”. See if you can volunteer, donate prizes, or anything! Our library hosts “read-a-thons” for adults and children and summer reading challenges. I always get involved in some manner!
  • If they don’t do events, talk with the library, bookstores, or schools about doing events of your own! It’s a cheap and effective way to get people to their store or library and it gets people reading.
  • At book stores, chat with the employees (especially those that work in your genre) or managers. I’ve chatted with them for upcoming event info and just introduced myself. I’ve not “worked” with them yet, but I’m hoping that’ll come in time.
  • Another book store idea? Recommend books to shoppers! If I see someone pick up a book I love, I mention it to them. I try not to be annoying, but I might say “Oh, I loved that book!” If they engage me in conversation, great! If not, it’s not a big deal. I’ve actually sold many books this way.

Do any of you have ideas on getting the word about your blog or books out there? Have you tried any of my suggestions?

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  1. Wow, what great ideas! Thanks for such a big list of things to do. Some, I had not even thought of before!

  2. Jen says:

    I love the yo-yo idea! So creative. :-)

    • Amanda says:

      I thought they were fun. I needed something for kids and MG. For the yo-yos, I ended up ordering simple yo-yos and using stickers I had printed and then just glazing over them. They ended up so cute!

  3. Kate says:

    This is a fantastic list! I’d not really thought much about blog promotion but all your ideas are practical and smart.

  4. Roxanne says:

    These are some great ideas.

  5. This is GENIUS!
    I’ve done the last thing TONS of times hehehe though I’m always a mess of nerves when I start talking to them…I’m not good at socializing…at ALL…

    I’m really thinking about doing bookmarks and cards for my blog :D hehehe we’ll see about that… but I think you’ll understand better why I’m on the verge of tears right now :’( you guys make everything sound so freaking easy :( I really hope that one day here, we get the chances to share the love for books more :D

    Here’s my post, Bookpics is Talking Networking!

    • Amanda says:

      I’m really shy, but for something I’m passionate about (YAY BOOKS!) I can usually get myself to chat. ;)

      Bookmarks and cards are really a great way to start the convo though.

  6. Great ideas! I’ve been wanting to get business cards for a while now. I just should go ahead with it and do it.

    I also like to talk to shoppers in book shops but sometimes I’m itching to say something (a recommendation on the basis of what they’ve already picked up) but if there hasn’t even been eye contact, it’s hard. But, like you, I do love to give recommendations!

    • Amanda says:

      You should get cards! If you shop around you can usually find great deals.

      That’s why I usually start with the simple comment, then if they look up I’m all for giving them other suggestions! They usually will…and sometimes they even ask.

  7. Amanda says:

    Those are some great tips! I didn’t think of the community bulletin boards! Thank you!

    (sorry for the overabundance of !!!!!!!!! so early in the morning, must be the caffine!)


    • Amanda says:

      I’m so bad about adding !!!! to everything…LOL!

      Community bulletin boards are how I started advertising a bit! Only because I was so used to hanging band posters, but it works.

  8. Anne says:

    Thank you so much for sharing tips for those of us who DON’T live somewhere that we can get to signings! I’m in the same boat as you and would often have to drive 3-4 hours to be able to go to events. I just can’t afford that kind of time (or gas!) But, I have been considering approaching my local library – I get a majority of my books there, and I would love to help them get into doing more author events etc. I’ve bookmarked this page, so I can come back to it when I get around to doing that :)

    • Amanda says:

      The distance/gas is a big factor for me. Plus it never fails something major comes up. Good luck! I hope some of them help you. :)

  9. WoW!! Amanda, just WOW!! These are awesome tips for promotion!! I would have never thought about it!! :) :) It’s great :) Enjoy today! And hope to see you at the Twitter party!! ;)

  10. Leonicka says:

    These are fantastic tips! What a crafty publicist you are! Well done!

  11. Great advice . . .

  12. Gwen says:

    So many great ideas!

    I put my business card in library books too:)

  13. Felicia says:

    Those are some great networking ideas that will get you involved in the community around your area :) I may talk to my library !

  14. All great ideas and I love your approach given your situation. The idea is to communicate your passion for books and it sounds like you’re doing a great job.

  15. This is a great list of ideas! I think people underestimate the power of a bookmark. Seriously. Hand a shiny new bookmark to a reader and it’s like a golden ticket.

    The Flashlight Reader

  16. Kailia says:

    Great tips! I’m horrible at networking in real life so these are really helpful! I love your blog too!


  17. Liviania says:

    I need to get business cards.

  18. Maria says:

    This is a great list! And I love that the focus is not entirely on self-promotion, but also on promoting books. Which is the whole point of blogging, right? Thanks so much for sharing!

  19. elena says:

    The yo-yo idea is SO FUN and creative! I loved reading these tips since I’m so hesitant about networking and just ~getting out there~. Thanks so much for this!

  20. Wow, you sound like a busy networking! I think I’m a lot more tentative in that regard, but I do love some of the ideas you mentioned.

    Here’s my post.

  21. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Like you, I’m away from most signings and big activities, so I appreciated the “applicable to anyplace” approach your ideas took.

    • Amanda says:

      It’s a bit more challenging for those of us who don’t have access to those things…but we can still manage! Good luck in your own networking!

  22. Kelly says:

    What a great list of ways to network. You may not be able to get to many author/blogger events, but you are doing a heck of a job networking within your community :)

  23. Great tips! I think the one thing I always want to do is recommend books to shoppers, or even people at the local library. Right next to the YA section in my local library, there are some really comfy couches, so I sit on them and read, eyeing what other people are taking off the shelves. The best part is when I see someone my age (I’m 31) come into the section to look at the books … makes me feel like I’m not alone in my love of YA!

    Great post!

  24. Evangeline says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips! I like your business cards idea. I’m quite an introvert, but lately, I’ve been trying to come out of my shell and engage fellow readers at bookstores. Difficult, but one step at a time. :)

  25. You have some excellent tips! I mentioned donating ARCs to the library a couple times but they said they would just sell them. :/ I really would like to get business cards in the future. I think that would be great. :)

    • Amanda says:

      Maybe try local schools or other charities! I take most of my ARCs to the local school, but I know some bloggers go to boys and girls clubs or detention centers/jails.

  26. These are some awesome ideas. I know it is so silly, but I just did not think to get involved with my local libraries. Why? I have NO IDEA!! but when I read your post, it was just like a huge lightbulb went off above my head. It is such a good idea! I plan on reaching out to them this week! :)

    Thank you so much for sharing and for inspiring me to get involved in the local book community.

    • Amanda says:

      Haha! It’s the simple things that sometimes evade us. I actually was driving by mine one day and went “hold it…” Then the one that’s closer to me, their YA librarian is an author. So that’s nice as well!

  27. Amazing, useful and practical tips Amanda! I recently contacted my library’s children and youth librarian and pitched a few ideas for volunteering with their teen program, and unfortunately, within their library structure they can’t accept volunteers unless it is for computer monitoring, shuttle service or the library booksales. I’m super bummed, but maybe I can use some of your tips to find a different way of getting involved in the local bookish community!

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