If you’re in the process of writing a book, you should already be thinking about your book marketing and publicity—yes, well before it’s published. Here’s how to lay the advance groundwork for a successful book marketing and publicity effort.
1. Start sooner rather than later
A year before publication isn’t too soon to get your book promotion and publicity ducks in a row.
In a traditional publisher’s production cycle, there’s generally a lull of a few months between when the pages go to the printer and the when the finished book lands in the bookstores. This is generally a fallow period for “official” authorial duties, and is a perfect time to review the status of the marketing vehicles to follow, below.
When self-publishing a book (in print or e-book), the author generally doesn’t feel this downtime—so it’s important that the pre-publication marketing and publicity “homework” be done well before the book is available, to ensure it’s well set up for launch into the marketplace.
Here are some of the things you can—and should—start putting into place now to ensure you’ll be well set-up when it’s book publication time.
2. Establish your online presence
If you haven’t already, plant your authorial stake in the virtual ground with an effective website that showcases your book and you as an author.
If you have a pre-existing website or blog, great—just make sure the site is set up to showcase your book as well as possible. If your website does not effectively serve your book promotional goals—and can’t be tweaked to being an effective book promotional tool—or if you don’t have one at all—you’ll need to establish a site for the book.
It’s important to get your website up before the book is available, as it takes some time for search engines to “find” you.
(If you’re not sure what your site should include, read this article to learn about the elements of effective author website.)
3. Tend to your “media platform”
Whether it’s a popular blog or a thriving small business or a hit television show, your author platform is a valuable marketing commodity. In advance of your book’s publication, figure out how you will be able to utilize your platform/s to best market your book.
For example, if your platform is a blog, schedule your book’s publication announcement and plan giveaways. If your platform is that you host a radio show, get agreement from the station as to how much you will be able to promote you book and plan for that.
4. Line up your professional and personal networks
Begin to review your networks for fans of yours—whether professional or personal—who might be willing to help spread the word about your book when it hits the marketplace. These could be everyone from friends who have media contacts to the editor of your alumni magazine to your favorite local bookstore owner to your Tweeting friend who has 10,000 followers.
For help with figuring out who might be willing and/or able to help spread the word about your book, learn about the author questionnaire marketing tool that’s used in some form or another by most traditional publishers, and take the time to fill one out yourself.
(If you’re self-published or haven’t gotten one of these from your publisher, use Part 2 of the author questionnaire template here to help assess your networks.)
5. Find partners or a sponsor, if applicable
If your book is a non-fiction that won’t suffer from a little commercial association, you might want to consider looking for a sponsor to help promote or help defray your marketing costs (traditional publishers love this!).
For example, if your book is about pet care and you have pet food company connections, you might ask them to sponsor a book tour to help defray the cost of appearances.
6. Establish and engage with your social media networks
Again, if you’re a topic specialist, make sure you’re blogging and Tweeting and Pinteresting and otherwise posting to your social media sites in a way that draws them in your potential audience so they’ll want the book when it’s published.
• Tapping into your social media networks for book promotion.
• Promoting your book with Twitter
practices for authors.
• Twitter best practices for authors
Also, while you’re writing the book, it’s great to engage with fellow writers on Twitter for support and help with the process, and it gets you in the habit of Tweeting and engaging—great practice for when the book is out.
Here are some Twitter hashtags specifically for writers.
Make sure to keep your publicist and editor informed as to your efforts
The more you help promote your book, the more thrilled your publisher’s staff will be. Be sure that while lay the groundwork for a successful book publication with your own efforts, make sure you keep your editor, and your book marketing and book publicity staffs in the loop. This way, they can make sure their own efforts dovetail —not compete—with yours, and vice versa.
Read more about book marketing and about book publicity.