If you don't have someone else managing your publicity, its up to you to get out there - make it happen!!!
Of course, local bookstores should be your starting point. Visit them in person, act professional, and be prepared. Take your book and collateral materials to provide to the manager or person in charge of events. Collateral materials can include:
Postcards (see my earlier post about swag and bling for your book)
Short Bio, blub and synopsis - professional looking on one or two pages
And be ready to answer questions. Also, make sure to take your calendar and have several dates already picked out to offer for your signing - make it easy for them to say yes!
Book Clubs - Try searching online for book clubs in your area, and start asking around! Can you offer a discount on your book if the group choosees to read it? Offer to join them on the date they discuss your book, have some talking points prepared beforehand, and don't forget your sharpie to sign their books!
Local Mom's Groups (often through churches) such as MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) - Offer to come and talk about a topic you feel comfortable about (the writing process, your journey to publication, being a writer mom, the topic of your non-fiction book, etc...). Take postcards of your book to sign and hand out, or your actual book to sell if you have approval to do that.
Large chain grocery stores
I spoke with Hy Vee today and they book events locally - each store decides. Instead of trying to just get yourself in the door, they might go for something broader - like a "promote summer reading" event held in May or June. Perhaps get together a group of 6 or 7 local authors representing picture books, young readers, middle grade, YA, etc. and offer some giveaways geared towards kids and reading. Say, a goodie bag with each author providing something - a bookmark, stickers, a healthy treat, etc. This draws in shoppers for the store, and also gets you out there!!! This format could work for other venues too.
I talked with Target and Walmart, and their events need to go through corporate headquarters, and generally would only be for authors whose books are on their shelves.
If there is a local chain you would like to get into, simply call them and ask to speak to the person in charge of in-store promotions or marketing. You never know until you ask! The worst they can do is say no.
What about other local places? Where does your target market go? Where do they hang out? WHERE ARE THEY???
Inspirational books / religious themes - contact local churches
YA / Romance / Fantasy / MG - local malls, which could be tricky if the mall is part of a large corporate chain. Again, you just have to ask!
MG - schools - is there a topic related to your book you could lecture on that provides some educational aspect? At the end, if approved, hand out fliers that start off like "Today in your child's class, we talked about X. I hope your child enjoyed learning about ... blah blah.... oh, and by the way, here is my author site... like to buy book..."
Check out your city library's website and see what events and groups they have. Mine did not appear to have author appearances, but yours might!
Sign up as a speaker through your local humanities council. Also check out their events, book festivals, etc. to see if you can participate!
What other venue ideas do you have? There are hundreds and my brain is fried now, so I'll end it here! Cheers, Jan