The Idea Shelf

Heide and Iain have lots of ideas. 
They tend to have more ideas than they can implement, and some of the ideas that they have implemented could easily be adapted and used elsewhere.
For this reason, we present to you The Idea Shelf
We will describe some ideas and you are very welcome to take them and use them yourself.

Book promo ideas: please help yourself

The Readers’ Map

You can see the Birmingham Readers’ Map on our website. It was very easy to set up using Google’s MyMaps. Set one up for an area local to you and use it with other indie writers to cross-promote each others’ books. Of course, you should include work from all authors whose books are clearly set in the area, because it makes the map more interesting. You can make the map public with the Google share settings and then anyone who has a website can easily embed it.

An online library community

The idea is to create a resource to join authors, readers and libraries, whether they are tiny community libraries or larger public libraries.
It might consist of a google map (to show where they are located) and a Facebook group where libraries and authors are put in touch so that authors can look for appearance opportunities and perhaps offer copies of their books.
This would need careful curating and rules of engagement to be successful, but it would be a great platform.

An eyecatching new way to create content: write a novel in a hackathon

The term “hackathon” is used in the world of computing to describe a short intensive collaboration to tackle a project.
We believe that this could be used to write a novel. 
It would be suitable for a location-based novel – we pictured going on tour and orchestrating these hackathons in different towns.
There are various models for how the resulting novel could be published. We wondered whether one of the academies attached to a publishing house might like to use this idea and publish the results as a series. It could be the literary world’s version of reality TV if the teams kept up a good level of engagement!

Our thoughts on what it could look like:

  • A bunch of writers in a room (the term writers can encompass people of varying ability, editors and proofers as well).
  • The theme might be pre-planned but secret until the start of the event, so that everyone (experienced or new) has an equal voice with ideas. Of course, more experienced people will probably know better how to develop & progress an idea, but it’s essential that people are put into mixed teams and the organiser must ensure that everyone collaborates and feels that they are participating.
  • A keynote speech (“hey guys, we’re here because…”)
  • Smaller groups will tackle the work once the overall shape is determined.
  • Divide up the work. There are writing games & activities on-hand in case inspiration dries up.
  • A novel could be written easily over a weekend if the teams can be correctly organised.

Pop-up shops for groups of authors to sell books

A co-operative of indie writers or small presses could take on an empty shop or some other retail space to sell books.  

If you find a location with a good footfall and can put together a team of people who are capable of talking about and selling all of the books on offer then this could be a great way to build audience. There are resources like http://www.wearepopup.com/ to locate space. 

Affiliate link stories

Affiliate links are specially encoded hyperlinks that will generate commission if someone clicks on it and buys a product. Amazon affiliate links are well-known.
Other industries offer much more valuable links. For example, if you can get someone to click on a link and buy an insurance policy or change their energy supplier, then it can be worth tens of pounds, rather than pennies. 
So why not write a story that encourages people to take that action?
A story as an advert.

Heide and Iain had a go here. Maybe you have some ideas?

Create physical short story teasers 

If you can create a really appealing and very short story then consider printing it up very cheaply and giving it away.
The best environment we can think of is a long train journey, where people might enjoy a ten minute read.
This picture shows one version that we made, but we came up with an even simpler, folded version that is a single sheet of A3 which makes it super-cheap.
Don’t forget to signpost people to your online work, perhaps a free ebook that will lead them to the rest of your work.

A tiny book, cheap and easy to make yourself

The analogue virtual reality book trailer!

The lesson from this is not so much to copy the design (although please do if you want to) but to have a talking point when you’re out and about.
Crafting a scene from your book in old toy figurines is very satisfying and excellent fun. We might use the idea again in a different form.
Something eye-catching that will draw people to your book stall is very handy.

Paper placemats as a vehicle for a short story

wagamama paper place mat

Paper place mats. An A3 piece of paper which will be put in front of someone while they eat. A short story could go on here.

The paper place mats that restaurants use could accommodate a story of (I reckon) up to 1000-1200 words. It would need to be a good one, to draw people to your other work. A QR code to lead them to your books and you might have a great way to promote your books in the real world.

It might be possible to sell the content outright, or perhaps you sponsor the printing and distribute them yourself?

Has an idea here worked for you?
Let us know!
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