Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

When you read the title of today’s post, Engagement, did your thoughts turn immediately to your audience? No wonder if you did; we stress the importance of engaging your readers frequently on this blog. The topic of one of the sessions at Book Expo America last week created a vision that engagement has as much to do with businesses and libraries as it does with readers. I want to pass it on to you for consideration.

Shop-Local Movement

On the first day of BEA Stacey Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for engagementLocal Self-Reliance, gave a plenary talk titled “Meeting the New Localism Challenge: Protecting and Promoting Communities and Local Economies.” Her topic, about which she is passionate, reminded me of a blog I posted over a year ago, “Adopt a Cause,” in which I suggested ways for authors to grow your author platform while also serving a worthwhile cause.

Stacey shared several noteworthy statistics to support her stance on the movement. I didn’t attend the session, but in Judith Rosen’s PW online article Stacey is quoted as saying that since 2009, 660 new independent bookstores opened, the number of local farmers markets has grown 21 percent, and the number of local independent coffee shops grew at one and a half times the rate of Starbucks. According to the article Stacey reported that people are not only buying locally but also investing locally, citing examples in Minneapolis, Cleveland, Phoenix, and San Francisco. Read the article to learn what’s happening in these cities.

So how can you, an author, appropriate this local movement idea for your author platform?

  • Research the shop-local movement so you can speak intelligently about the potential win-win benefits for everyone. You’ll need to be ready with answers to their questions in order to engage their interest. You know, knowledge is power.
  • Take what you’ve learned and think of creative, new events to propose, based on what is popular in your community, but with a fresh twist. Use the information you have to come up with creative, plausible ideas you can work on together to draw people to your events and purchase your books as well as products from their local store.
  • Next, contact chambers of commerce in your vicinity. Find out if they have launched a shop-local movement in their community, and tell them what you’ve learned in your research. Online shopping, from Amazon in particular, has taken a toll on small businesses. Showing them viable ways you and local business owners can work together to stimulate sales is the surest way to gain their support and engagement.
  • Work with local bookstores and libraries. They are striving to stay current with technology and provide goods and services their local patrons desire. Offer to work with them to arrange events that are both appealing to patrons and relevant to your next book. At the very least, your contact with them will be a step forward in building relationships with these important people in your area, people who could become your strongest influencers for your word-of-mouth campaign when the book releases.

Encouragement was in the air at BEA, and it’s been promising to learn about publishers launching creative partnerships and new imprints, because creativity is a must in this industry today. The shop-local cause may be a means for you to put creative ideas to good use for mutual benefit. Who knows, you may become a celebrity in your local area, which is a solid foundation on which to grow your platform.

Are you up for thinking creatively about how this idea could work for you in your community? Have you had past experience partnering on events in your local library or bookstore? Or another store? Tell us about it. What is your biggest obstacle keeping you from pursuing this idea?


Authors, here is one way to engage local businesses and libraries to grow your platform. Click to Tweet.

How can authors get businesses and libraries on board to promote your book? Here is one idea. Click to Tweet.