Promoting Your Book

Some thoughts about promoting your book…

Except for those fortunate folks who contract their book out to a willing publisher who buys the right to print, publish and promote their book, the overwhelming majority of authors must promote their book themselves. Book promotion, then, is truly up to the author.  Most publishers do not effectively promote books. Some may offer some promotional items such as bookmarks, postcards, posters, business cards, brochures, and such as part of a publication package, but do not engage in actively promoting your book. That will certainly be the author’s challenging job.

Knowing that promotion will be an author’s pursuit, the following are some thoughts about avenues which you might pursue to promote your book.

1. Advertising vs. Publicity

a. Selling books through space advertising is expensive and not a great option for small publishers or authors.

b. Publicity, however, is a different process. Publicity is free, advertising is not.

c.  However, you can control your advertising but your publicity may not be picked up and used or may be rewritten by the news outlet.

2. Use of Book reviews

a. In the news business, book reviews are considered “editorial” and are much more creditable than actual space advertising.

b. There are hundreds of appropriate magazines and news columns that will examine your book and review it. There are also a multitude of on-line reviewers that are now also available.

c.  Competition for free space in publications is brisk.

3. Actively promote your book by the following

News releases, review copies, radio and TV appearances, feature stories, interviews and presentations to specialty audiences.

4. Bookstores make your book available

a.  Bookstores do very little, if any, promotion. You have the job of encouraging people to go into stores to buy your book.

b.  Authors create the demand. If your book becomes a desirable item, bookstores will want to carry your title.

c.  Bookstores will want a substantial discount, at least 40% to sell your book. will insist on a discount from 50% to 55%.

5. Beginning the promotion:

a. Who might purchase your book? One needs to analyze your potential market and then determine the best way to reach them.

b. You must be able to know who your buyers are, where they shop, what associations they belong to, events they attend, email lists they join, newsletters they subscribe to, TV channels they may watch.

c. It is important to know where you can find a high concentration of folks interested in your subject matter and target your audience.

d. Start by gathering contact lists of various media and drafting news releases. These media contacts are the ones who can move your book with the least investment of your time and money. They are essential to your book promotion! You must cultivate them with care and understanding of their role and duties.

e. Keep in mind that often a smart promotional strategy should be to start locally!

f.  Spend most of your time and money on your web site; it replaces brochures & mailings

g. Your business card should drive folks to your website. All your promotional materials should start from there.

h. Your business cards are less expensive than brochures and more likely to be kept by the recipient. The mission of the card is to send folks to your website; the web site is your brochure. The card does the telling and the site does the selling. Print lots of cards and distribute them freely and everywhere.

Professional Book Publicity/Marketing Services

What do you do if you don’t have the time or desire to organize your own promotion?
What about professional help?

1.  Book publicists primarily write and place news releases, organize autograph parties, place authors on TV and radio. They usually work on a retainer basis, per placement basis and seldom work by the hour.

2.  Publicity takes time. You should hire a publicist for several months to make it work. Prices range from a retainer of $2,000 to $5,000.

3.  Marketing services specialize in securing distribution, promoting to libraries and special sales sources, send out galleys and review books, organizing co-op marketing, Internet promotion, exhibits and advertising and creating promotional materials

4.  If you decide to hire a professional publicist or marketing service, start early, before your book is distributed.

5.  Bottom Line: Publicists are very expensive. Most self-publishing authors are better advised to promote the book themselves.

Testimonials & Endorsements

1. These strategies sell books because people feel there is no greater recommendation than from a satisfied customer.

2.  Aside from on your back cover, testimonials and endorsements should be used on the pages before the title page and on your web site.

3.  These folks should be “opinion molders” and folks who are known in the book’s field or known to the general public.

4.  You will want to add testimonials from your reviews on your website.

5.  Aim high. You can find just about anyone on an online search.

Publication Date

1. The publication date is a place in the future, well after your books are off the press, when your books will be available in stores and your promotion will be working. The idea is to have the product accessible when public attention peaks in response to your promotion.

2. It has nothing to do with the date your book comes off the press. It’s the date your book is listed on the ABI (Advanced Book Information) form, but it is not the date you list on the copyright form. In short, the publication date is a “fiction” for the benefit of pre-publication review magazines such as Publishers Weekly.

Book Reviews

1. Book reviews sell books! They’re the least expensive and most effective promotion you can possibly do for your book.

2. Considering the cost of producing the book, promotional materials, mailing, packaging and postage, each promotion package usually is well with a budget. If, for instance, these costs amount to$5.00 as it goes out the door. That means you can send review copies to over 300 magazines for about $1,500. If you’re writing on a subject of interest to a specified target group, your book should be of interest to many magazines, newsletters, and columns around the world.

3. Reviews cost you very little in time and money.

4. Because non-fiction books are news, generally these products are often reviewed free.

5. There are two types of book review media: “pre-publication and post-publication.” Pre-publication is directed at the wholesale book market (stores). Post-publication is aimed at the retail market.

6. Consider purchasing the resources listed below to find suggested pre-publication outlets.

7. Post-publication outlets that are relatively sure bets and will probably review your book and those other periodicals that might possibly review your book are available. Research the internet and consider purchasing the resources listed below.

8. The best way to get sales moving is to get the book talked about by the right people. This could be just a very few folks or hundreds.

9.  Most reviews are free; however, they can take three months or more to appear. Just send the books out and then go on to other promotion projects.

10. Also get consumer reviews. Have retail customers/friends write a short comment on your book.

11. Since book reviews are very effective and review copies are relatively inexpensive, it makes sense to spend more time and effort on reviews than on most other forms of promotion or paid advertising. For most books, it is not unusual to send out 300 to 500 review copies. This may seem like a lot, but it is a sound investment. Several inches of review space in magazines, major and minor, are extremely valuable and are far more credible than advertising. If you are in doubt whether to send it to a particular reviewer, ship it out. Don’t be stingy!

12. There are two types of reviews, a summary review that relates to the contents of the work without issuing a statement or opinion of value and an evaluative review that decides whether the author has covered the topic and compares the book with similar works. An evaluative review usually ends with a favorable or unfavorable recommendation of varying lengths.

13.  A book reviewer may very well depend on news releases and other enclosures that you provide. You will need to write a testimonial sheet with specific information unique to you and your book to submit as part of your promotional package.

Periodical Reviews

1. Visit the reference desk of a large public library and check the periodical directories. There are at least two for newsletters and several for newspaper columns. Copy the pages you need and bring them home to enter the addresses on you computer. A larger main public library will have a larger budget for directories and their books are more likely to be newer. You can find many of the directories online, but there usually is an expensive charge to access the listings.

2. Good matches are magazines that you have heard of; good matches that are published regularly with a large circulation. These periodicals will probably review your book.

3. Those you have not heard of, or the publications do not sound like they match is published quarterly and/or the circulation of 600 or so, might possibly review your book.

The Review Package

The package sent to reviewers should include a book, review slip, a sample review, news releases, reprints of other reviews and your business card. Make it clear that your book is either a hardcover or permabound (paperback).

News Releases

1. Releases are used to announce products, promotions and events. They accompany galleys and review copies of books, are included in promotional kits to radio, television and print media and are posted in the pressroom on your web site.

2. News releases are responsible for 20% to 25% of the editorial space in many newspapers and magazines. Smaller groups use even more.

3. You will need to draft some releases specifically for distribution to a particular publication. Try to imitate the writing style of that publication.

4. General rules of a news release:

a. Develop an interesting angle that shows how your book will benefit the reader. You need a hook, an issue to grab the reader.

b. Locate and cultivate the appropriate media contacts.

c. Deliver the information in the proper form.

d. Give the editors what they want and need. The less rewriting our release requires, the more chance it will be used.

Resources for selling your books:

The above material was adapted from:

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to write, print and sell your own book.Santa Barbara, CA: Para Publishing. 2007.

Consider also:

Jud, Brian.  Beyond the Bookstore: How to sell more books profitably to non-bookstore markets.  New York: Reed Business Press.  2004.

Kremer, John.  1001 Ways to Market Your Books.  Fairfield, IA: Open Horizons.  2006.