Promotion has two basic elements: finding where your readers are, online and off, and serving them as often and in as many ways as you can. Promoting your books gives you the chance to share your passion for the value of your work. But if you just want to write one book, you have to decide how much effort you want to devote to promoting it. Small, niche, and university presses don’t expect writers to have big promotion plans.
What follows assumes that you are passionate about writing and promoting a series of books that sell each other; you will repurpose in other forms, media, and countries; and that you will use to build your brand. The cumulative impact of your efforts over time will enable you to build a community of fans eager to buy everything you create.
Publishing is a pre-publication-oriented business. The challenge is to maximize the value of your book before you sell or publish it. Much of what you need to do happens before publication, when you build assemble the ingredients for the success of your book and your career. These suggestions require time, energy, and imagination, but little or no money.
Starting a Promotion file: The moment you decide to write your book, start a list of ideas and of people who can help you.
Learning to Love SM: be active on the social media where your readers are, including blogs and Goodreads.
Being Active in the Communities You Need: Every field has its own communities of events, organizations, media, and influencers in the media, government, business, nonprofits, academia, and perhaps spirituality. The communities in your field can help you with cover quotes, publicity, talks, reviews, email lists, and can connect you other members of the communities you need.
Choosing the Right Ingredients for Your Book: read articles, books, blogs, websites, and the ocean of info online about promotion. Ask authors and booksellers what makes books like your sell (What convinces you to buy them?); read competing books, books about writing in general and books like yours, and blogs and magazines in your field; find books and authors to use as models for your book; research the audience for your books, the best tools for reaching them, and the cost of online ads.
Your Pitch: Information has to be scalable. You have to be able to describe your book in as little as one line, depending on the opportunity and the interest of your listener. Prepare a pitch that you can use for every occasion. Get feedback on it.
Using the Ingredients to Build Your Platform: continuing visibility, online and off, on the subject of your book or the kind of book you’re writing with potential book buyers. If you’re writing nonfiction, consider starting a podcast.
Your Online Radio or Television Show: Start an online interview show to test-market your work and meet influencers in your field.
Your Email List that empowers you to generate sales and attendees at your events
Test-marketing your books and the tools you will use: a blog–the hub of your website– talks, classes online and off, your YouTube channel, a podcast, social media with profiles, media interviews, and talks wherever you will want to go on publication
Your Media Kit: Make the job of interested media people easy by including on your website a continually updated media kit with a media release, a photo of your cover, a bio and photo, a Q&A sample interview, excerpts, clips of you speaking or being interviewed, future events, and media-worthy information about the subject
Interviews: getting media people to commit to interviewing you or doing a story about you, or reviewing your book
Cover Quotes or the commitment to write them from people who will give your books credibility and salability around the country when your books come out
A Foreword for Nonfiction: whoever will most effectively help sell your books
Strategic Alliances (Optional): the written commitment from one or more businesses or nonprofits to buy X books, feature you and/or your books in their ads, on their websites, and in their newsletter; sponsor a tour with you as a spokesperson; have the head of the organization write a foreword, perhaps for a customized edition of the book; get local stores relevant to your book to stock it.
Promotional Commitments on or after publication from bloggers, reviewers, interview shows, and organizations and events that will book you to speak.
Build Pre-orders: use an order form at appearances and email blasts to your email list and others you can use or rent to generate pre-orders to build your online sales ranking on publication.
Book Mailing/Request to Send a Book: build a e/mailing list of everyone who can help the book enough either to justify the cost of a printed copy with a personalized letter asking for the help you wish; or send an email, offering a copy of the ebook; you can use NetGalley to email ebooks.
Book Signings: befriend booksellers and get a commitment for signings.
A Brand-building Business Card that’s a miniature brochure with a photo of the cover –and you if your looks will help– all of your contact info, and your products and services; be creative about stock, color, and design; if you wish, use a double-length card and have it folded in half.
A Plan with a Budget: integrate everything you will do in the right order for maximum impact; get feedback on your plan from authors and a staff or freelance publicist.
The Recipe for Promotion on Publication and After
A Virtual Book Tour: podcasts, webinars, blog tour, audio and video interviews, social media
Talks: If you enjoy speaking and can customize talks for different audiences, organizations will publicize your talk and let you sell books. Depending on your topic and skill, you may be able to earn enough to finance a national tour.
Interviews with trade and consumer print, broadcast, and electronic media, including blogs and podcasts
Book Clubs: offer to discuss the book in person, by phone, or on Skype
Seizing Opportunities: The success of a book, movie, television show; a news story; something on the Web; or a trend can create chances for promotion. Authors keep creating new ways to promote their books.
Fine-tuning the Recipe with Every Book
Promotion is an essential investment in your career. What you learn from your first book will enable to do more of what works and eliminate what doesn’t. You will continue to get better at the challenge, and your efforts will have greater impact with every book. So enjoy the process of making new fans by sharing your passion for the value of your work.
This handout is based in part by a post on Brian Feinblum’s outstanding BookMarketingBuzzBlog.
Michael Larsen Author Coaching
Did you know we host a year-round Nonfiction Book Awards program? Check it out!