If you're an author you know writing the book is only part of your job these days. Promotion is a huge chunk of what you have to do. Here's some excellent tips from people in the know.
Book publicity is one of the most frustrating things for authors both experienced and new. You can write an all-time great novel, design the best book cover in history, and get blurbs from JK Rowling and Barack Obama—but if you don’t publicize your book well enough, you won’t sell any copies.
The simple fact is that people have to know your book exists before they can buy it, and publicity is the best way to get fresh eyeballs on your book.
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of good information regarding book publicity available freely. As a result, we see many authors make the same book marketing mistakes over and over again—sabotaging their own campaigns and killing their book sales.
If you want to successfully market your book, you need to be aware of these three marketing mistakes authors of all levels make...
1. Avoiding Large Outlets
A lot of authors limit themselves by not pitching to larger outlets and publications like The New York Times or NPR. After all, there are so many authors who send their books to those offices every day, what are the chances of getting a reviewer’s eyes on your book?
While the odds are daunting, they are not impossible. Even self-published books with no professional publicity firm behind them have landed themselves an NYT book review. The key is to do your research:
- Which editor should you be pitching?
- How do they like to be pitched?
- How can you put a spin on your pitch that they will like?
- How many times are you going to follow up? (The answer to this should be “a lot”)
With the right research and execution, you can greatly enhance your chances of being covered by a large outlet, which will lead to many more eyeballs on your book.
Pro-Tip: When writing a pitch, not tailoring it to each audience can be a huge disadvantage. Do you want a health-focused public radio station to cover your book the same way Financial Times would? Of course you don’t—you know that those stations often appeal to different audiences. Make sure your pitch highlights the value of your book to their specific audience.
2. Skimping On The Legwork
We all have long days, and when you’re writing a book, and doing the marketing and publicity, that can make the day much, much longer. The temptation is always there to take shortcuts—send out generic email blasts, drop $10,000 on a “publicity service,” or just give up on book marketing altogether.
But the legwork is where the magic happens in publicity.
Force yourself to reach out to local bookstores, libraries, author groups and book clubs and schedule some readings. Even when your exhausted, write those emails to journalists who probably won’t respond. Embrace the grind, because that’s the only way to get results.
Leaning in to the legwork in marketing also gives you the opportunity to really be present and seize opportunities. If you send out a generic email blast and have a virtual assistant handle all the follow up, you’ll save time, but you’ll miss those unexpected opportunities when someone responds to you offering a cool new collaboration.
Be present, be committed, and push yourself through the grind of publicity. Your hard work will pay dividends.
3. Not Building a Platform
Not building an online platform for your book is a huge publicity mistake.
When readers and supporters want to get to know an author, and that author’s whole catalog of work, the first thing they do is go online and look at the author’s site. Don’t believe me? Check out Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, both of whom are best selling authors many times over, and both of whom have amazing websites.
Your site is your ultimate sales tool. It’s where readers go to learn more about your book, to explore ways of engaging you, and—most importantly—to buy your book.
With all of the tools available now to make website building incredibly easy (and sometimes even free) there’s almost no excuse not to have an author website when running your own publicity campaign.
Don’t Play Small
All of these mistakes are symptomatic of a larger issue that plagues authors. We think we’re smaller than we are, that professional websites, complex publicity campaigns, and coverage in major outlets are for writers who are more prolific than us.
We relegate ourselves to thinking that we—as small, amateur writers—don’t need more than a Facebook page and maybe a review on our friend’s blog.
When you play small, you get small results. Don’t limit yourself before you start. Approach your book’s publicity campaign as if you were already a bestseller, and the results will follow.
Thanks, Reedsy! This was great.
Thanks, Reedsy! This was great.