Sometime this winter I figured out that giving away a few copies of Biking Illinois for promotional purposes is a lot cheaper than advertising and probably just as effective. Get the book out there where people can see it and someone will buy it, right? Besides, I still have many copies left over from the time my publisher suggested that I order 100 books for an event where I only sold 18. So I have begun to select non-profit events that might like to offer autographed copies of Biking Illinois as raffle prizes, door prizes, or auction items (it will be interesting to see whether they will auction for more than list price). Best of all, it's one of the few advertising channels where people thank you for your contribution.
Today was the official launch of this new marketing phase with two small, suburban events raffling or auctioning copies of Biking Illinois. The first was a golf outing benefiting two YMCAs in the Fox River Valley. It was held by my alma mater, Aurora University, at a golf course about two miles from where I grew up. The second was a short, family bike ride in Glen Ellyn to raise money for Children's Memorial Hospital.
I've already contacted several organizations that I'd like to support, including the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the League of Illinois Bicyclists, World Bicycle Relief, and Friends of the Parks, but I'm looking for more. If you are putting on an Illinois event that involves cyclists, other recreational athletes, or any large number of Illinoisans, please e-mail me. I'll even personalize the books with a message like, "Thanks for supporting _(organization)_ at _(event)_ 2007" along with my signature.