How to Promote Your Book

October 22nd, 2008 • Kate

For the last two days, fellow literary agent Nathan Bransford has featured guest blogger Michelle Moran on How to Promote Your Book. I cannot recommend these two posts highly enough. They ought to be required reading for all writers, especially those with a contract in hand, and no idea what to do next. Read part one and part two. Some gems:

Several months before your book is released, be sure to find out if your house will be purchasing coop, and if so, for which weeks. Knowing these dates is incredibly important, because this is when you are going to do the most publicity and (if you are spending any money on your own) marketing. You’ll want to work the hardest to promote your book during the two or three weeks when it’s most visible in the stores.
Every author receives copies of their own book after publication, and the day these arrive at my house are the same day they leave, signed to several dozen reviewers I’ve met online. Along with signed copies, I also ask the reviewers if they would like a guest post on a particular topic of their choosing (or a generic one), a Q&A of their own making (or, again, a generic one), and whether they’d like two free books to give away on their site.
Whenever something upsetting occurs, always discuss it with your agent first, then have the agent speak on your behalf. Emotional people make bad business decisions, and throwing a wobbly on the phone to your editor (however close the two of you have become) definitely ranks in the bad decision category.

Now, Michelle’s ideas, while genius and required reading, as I said, aren’t the only ones out there. What other marketing or promotional ideas have you seen out there? One of the most successful author-propelled campaigns I can think of is John Green’s Brotherhood 2.0. Not just a one-off book trailer, but a year-long project that’s seeing a definite result in sales of his new book Paper Towns. Between crafting the perfect prose, are you thinking of promotional ideas? You should be!

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5 Responses to “How to Promote Your Book”

  1. hldyer Says:

    I am probably jumping the gun, since I am still in the seeking-representation phase, but I love to think about marketing ideas.
    The Edge of Memory is a book-club sort of novel, and my protagonist cooks when stressed (and I gave her a lot to stress over).
    I don't spend a lot of time in the novel on her cooking, but occasionally I reference a particular ingredient she's working with (say, during dialogue). A friend of mine with a successful cooking blog has agreed to create recipes for the meals my protagonist prepares and do some guest blogging for me.
    The recipe component will work especially well with book club dinner parties.
    One of my plot points involves a unique charm bracelet, so I would definitely be creating something similar for a sweepstakes prize. I would also get some less pricey bracelets for blog comment contests.
    I've already created a mock-up book trailer (which is on my blog), just for practice, and I have several enthusiastic test readers (including professional actors and photographers/videographers) who have offered to help make a professional one later.
    I'm very excited about the marketing component of pubishing.

  2. Kiersten Says:

    I'm also in the seeking representation stage, but I have a sister-in-law who is in broadcast journalism, so I could probably set up some local interviews in the area I live and in the area I'm originally from.
    Plus, I'm lucky in that I could tap into a pre-made and wildly enthusiastic reader base–the same one that Stephenie Meyer and Shannon Hale built on.
    Other than that, I would just go on the great advice from different agent and author blogs I've seen.

  3. jeanoram Says:

    I'm thinking of blog tours and have just recently started a file on my computer for promotional ideas. It's pretty sparse yet–but I'm looking! I've been talking to some upcoming book debutantes who said they've kept part of their advance for promotional costs and I'm thinking that's a pretty good idea. (I'm not quite there yet though!)

  4. Julia Says:

    I'm definitely thinking about promotion! I hope to be doing book tours and school visits and attend some sci-fi conferences.
    One of the give-aways I'd like to use is a bookmark with a temporary tattoo (since this particular tattoo is an essential part of the book.)
    Other than that, I haven't given a lot of thought to promotion – but I'm about to! Thanks for the great post & the links!

  5. Melissa Blue Says:

    Thinking about promotion makes me ill and excited at the same time. There are so many routes to go and none of them are a sure thing when it comes to selling books. So, my rule of thumb is to do something that you like to do that will connect you with readers.
    What it really comes down to (the reason you promote) is to get your name out there. People can't buy your book if they don't know you exist.