Like most major publishers and small presses, we expect our authors to be visible in the marketplace and play an active role in marketing and promoting their books. It’s simple: authors who work hard in the physical and online marketplaces sell more books! To be successful, authors must build their own marketing team and launch an aggressive marketing effort to complement the services we provide. As an author, you have a critically important role to play in bringing attention to your book in a fiercely competitive market.
Publishers begin their book marketing effort when both author and publisher have approved the final digital files and the printer’s proof (the first printed copy). At this point, the book has an official scheduled release date and is available for preorder from major retailers. We typically schedule a book’s release 4–6 months from the approval of its proofs. This important pre-release period allows time for a book to be received and reviewed by reviewers and major buyers, and adequate time for the publisher and author to build excitement around the new title. The expectation is that readers will have heard about the book by the release date and will choose to buy it! Major movie promotion works the same way. To build excitement, previews announce months ahead that the film is “coming soon” so opening night brings a crowd.
As the author, you should begin your marketing effort right away. Once the proofs are approved and the release date is set, you will receive your complimentary Advance Review Copies and be able to order additional copies to use in your promotional effort.
Here are the key marketing efforts you should pursue:
Build an Online Platform
To become a successful author, you must have a strong online presence. At minimum, you must have a website, a professional Facebook account, and the basic ability to manage your social media account(s) or to engage a skilled person or company to assist you.
A website with your name as the domain name can potentially put your book in front of tens of thousands of potential buyers, so having your own site is essential to your campaign. We’re happy to provide website design at a reasonable rate.
You should create a professional Facebook account to begin building your social media audience. You can create a new Facebook for your book business or convert an existing Facebook account into a Page. This link will give you instructions on how to create your account or Page. In addition to Facebook, consider creating an account on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Connect your website and social media to cross-pollinate and build awareness of your book on multiple platforms.
Build Your Email List
Your email list is one of your most powerful marketing tools to make personal connections with potential readers. Start building your list months before your book is published. (Starting now is not too soon!) Create a sign-up option on your website where readers can subscribe to receive your email newsletter, blog, and information about you and your public appearances. Establish connections with media, booksellers, and potential reviewers, as well as with family, friends, coworkers, and others you know; collect their email addresses, and connect with them on a regular basis. You could publish regular announcements via an email program like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. When you consistently connect with your readers, they will support you, tell other readers about you, and buy your books!
Post and maintain a blog about your book (and your life!) on your website. Blogging prompts you to add new information to your website on a regular basis, which can improve your position on search engines. You can also blog on other websites, which will help drive visitors to your site and to your book. Write to online bloggers and tell them about your book; they could have thousands of readers who may be interested.
Give Book Talks in Person and Virtually
Visit booksellers and libraries in your region and introduce yourself. Signings alone are rarely successful; more readers turn out at events when the author is giving a talk. Arrange presentations, readings, and signings at bookstores, libraries, community centers, and to groups. Prepare and refine several book talks that will engage readers. If you’re appearing in person, follow your talk with a book signing.
Although we don’t set up events for you, we can provide guidance on how to contact potential venues. If notified four to six weeks in advance, we will also promote your events via social media and on our website calendar. Finally, more and more authors are scheduling virtual book talks on Zoom and Facebook live and promoting them on social media.
Printed Advanced Review Copies (ARCs)
An ARC is one of the most effective tools to promote your book. We include a digital ARC (which includes your front cover, entire text, and back cover, all in one PDF file) and an agreed-upon quantity of printed copies as part of our publishing agreement, and you can use both printed and digital ARC(s) to fuel your marketing campaign—to gain reviews, potential buyers, and build awareness of your book. Most authors purchase a case or two to bring more attention to their book. You can also sell your print copies at wholesale or full retail to earn profit over and above royalties. (Author-purchased copies do not earn royalty.)
Attend Conferences and Events
Set up tables at book festivals, book fairs, and writing conferences where you can offer your book for sale at the list price.
Contact Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, Etc.
Make contact with your local, regional (and national!) traditional media to potentially interest them in a feature story about you and your book. Media are bombarded with emails, phone calls, and mailings from publishers, distributors, PR firms, and ad agencies, so a call, email, or letter from an author is often a breath of fresh air. Email a link to your website; send a copy of your sell sheet; send a digital or physical ARC and follow up with a phone call. Getting attention from the media is all about persistence, timing, and establishing a relationship, and follow-up is essential. This type of promotion requires time and commitment, but it can pay off. We encourage our authors to be bold and proactive!
Visit booksellers as well as other retailers with a copy of your book in hand and introduce yourself. Direct them to contact us or our distributor about purchasing information, and we’ll see that books are delivered—or you can negotiate a discount and sell directly to them.
Goodreads has been called “the Facebook for books.” While the main site exists for readers to keep track of their favorite authors and update their own reading lists, Goodreads also has unique features for authors to promote their work and connect with their readers. The site offers “The Author Program” for authors with published books, or for those who are in the process of publishing. Be sure to join.
Bookmarks, Postcards, Posters, Business Cards
Prepare and mail postcards to personal friends, family, associates, as well as to local retailers, libraries, and groups to let them know your book has been published. Include a bookmark in every copy you sell or give away. Display a poster at your events. We’re happy to design and print all of these items. Contact us about pricing.
Share Your Work
Book lovers love to learn about authors, who they are, how they work and live. Share a passage from your current book or a new book you’re working on. Share your adventure as a writer; let people know who you are as a person. Don’t be afraid to give your work away! Share a chapter from your book. Share your writing process; how you got started as a writer; how readers are responding to your book. You have to give a talk? Turn it into a blog post. Use content you’ve already produced to generate something new. The watchword is Share!
Amazon’s Author Central is a great free service, which allows you to track sales of your book across the US for the past four weeks. It’s easy to sign up at authorcentral.amazon.com. (As your publisher, we are not able to sign up for you.)
Consider producing your book as an audiobook. Making your book available in an additional format is an effective way to cross-market and reach a new audience. If you’re not the best narrator for your content, we can find a great voice to bring your book to life. Inquire about pricing.
Pick up and study the following titles for some great insights on marketing your book and yourself as an author:
- Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl. Grahl introduces his “Connection System” that has proven successful for many New York Times bestselling authors.
- Book Marketing Reinvented by Bryan W. Heathman (2018). A 15-week program, especially for nonfiction, but provides great ideas for every author.
- The Author’s Guide to Marketing Books on Amazon (2021 update) by Rob Eager. Eager has coached over 800 authors and helped both fiction and nonfiction authors reach the New York Times Bestsellers list.
- 1,001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer (2006). This older work includes an extensive body of information about many marketing approaches and tools, many of which are old school but still useful.
Build a sales campaign on your website and on Facebook and give away part of the sale price to a cause or charity close to your heart.
Corporate and Special Sales
Your book may be an excellent promotional tool/premium for a corporation or organization to use to support, teach, or encourage their mission or interest. An organization may choose to offer your book to their employees or clients. Keep in mind that a large percentage of books sold throughout the world are sold outside of bookstores. If an organization is interested in purchasing your book in bulk, we can produce a special edition for that group that includes the organization’s logo and other special features in a special edition.
Build Your Own Marketing Team
Most new authors quickly discover that marketing a book is difficult to do alone. Engage energetic family members, friends, and your community in your launch and marketing effort. Ask them to share your blog and social media posts, contact booksellers and retailers who may purchase your book, or assist with technology that may be a challenge for you. Perhaps you have an extroverted friend who knows people in media or who has the personality to be an effective promoter.
If your budget allows, we recommend you consider engaging a professional publicist or marketing firm. We frequently work in tandem with an outside publicist. Here are a few firms you might consider:
- theprfreelancer.com (nonfiction only)
Good luck with your promotion!