In my post on publishing timelines, I discussed the need to make time for promotion before publication—but what do you need to make time for? What pre-publication efforts should you be considering?
I’ve offered a lot of tips on marketing and promotion on the blog this year, from my top marketing tips to author events to email newsletters. But I thought it might be helpful to compile a more straightforward list of promotional ideas all in one place, to give you an overview. Note that these tips are mostly geared toward self-publishing authors, though some of them may be helpful for traditional publishing as well. I’ve excluded some of the more obvious things you’ll need–like social media, cover copy, and an author website–and focused on suggestions you might not be thinking about. During the 4-6 months preceding your book’s publication, consider the following:
- Local media
Take advantage of the local media in your area. Send press releases to newspapers, radio stations, and other nearby media sources. Also, don’t forget about your hometown—you might be able to get coverage there too. Many high schools and universities have alumni publications you can utilize as well.
- Teasers and excerpts
Give readers a taste of what’s to come. Post teasers or first chapter excerpts on your social media, or send them to newsletter subscribers. Do a cover reveal. There’s no need to go overboard here, but try to pique readers’ interest in your book before its release.
- Promotional materials
I’ve written about designing your own promotional materials before. You don’t need a ton of promotional items, especially if you have a small budget, but you can probably have a few, like bookmarks, printed relatively cheaply. These items will definitely come in handy at author events and conferences, not to mention promotional giveaways. Which leads me to…
You can give away books or promotional items through your website, blog, or social media. Plus, there are sites like Goodreads that are a great platform for giveaways too. For more on which site to choose, see this post.
- Book bloggers
Approaching book bloggers for reviews can be an effective promotional effort. However, you should be careful here; I’ve seen too many self-publishing authors spam bloggers with their attempts at promotion, and that doesn’t work for anyone. I don’t have space to cover blogger-author etiquette here, but there are lots of great posts elsewhere about this. I’d recommend starting with this one and this one.
Learn about your book’s metadata in order to use it more efficiently. This will enable readers to find your book more easily. There are lots of articles about how to do this as well, including this one and this one.
- Prep for digital distribution
Create authors accounts at sites like Amazon KDP, Smashwords, B&N, etc. in preparation for your digital distribution. You can create author pages on these sites, so be sure to utilize them. Include a brief bio, links to your website and social media, and information about your book, of course.
- Pre-order links
Set up pre-order links for your book, and start directing traffic toward these links as many as three or four months in advance. Pre-order sales can be enormously helpful in increasing your book’s ranking and visibility on publication day.
This tip is only for those who have the budget for it, as it will cost you around $400. But uploading a digital ARC to Netgalley can be very helpful in getting more reviews and getting your book in front of industry professionals.
- Book launch party
On the day (or week) of your release, host a launch party to celebrate, and have copies on hand for selling and signing. This is also a more expensive undertaking, so it won’t be right for everyone, but it’s a great way to share your book’s release with family, friends, and co-workers (not to mention selling a few copies). For more tips, see this post.
Of course, what works for one book or author may not work for another. Whether or not you want to pursue these ideas depends on a number of factors, from the type of book you’ve written to your timeline to your budget. But I hope this list will give you some useful ideas for your own promotional efforts.
Also, I should note that all of this presumes that you’ve written a good book and had it thoroughly and professionally edited. Promotion will only go so far; you have to have a good book first and foremost. But if you’ve put the effort in and are ready to start thinking about your promotion, I hope this list will prove helpful in planning your marketing strategy.
What do you think? What are you planning for pre-publication marketing and promotion? What tips did I miss? Let me know in the comments!
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