How do you market and promote a book successfully? You begin before it is even published.
Years ago businessman Harvey Mackay wrote a best-selling book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. It was all about what one needs to do to be successful – in advance of when something is needed. This approach should be taken by soon-to-be-published authors.
There are three important periods to marketing a book:
· 4-6 months prior to publication
· The week of the book launch
· The first three months post-publication
Each of these moments affords you different opportunities. The big lead up to your book’s release allows for you to take key steps to solicit book reviews, schedule events, secure testimonials, and do other timely things. Let’s take a look more closely at the timeline for authors in that pre-publication stage.
All authors should know when their books will be officially released to the public. It’s the date your publisher gets for your book’s release. If you self-publish, you set the date. There’s little reason to rush things though you may be eager to get your book out there to the public.
The release date gets posted in a database called Books In Print, where bookstores, Amazon , and libraries go to see when a book is coming out. The release date is also used by the news media, to determine when to review a book and to determine what’s new. Many people try to change or fudge their book’s release date once they stumble upon the significance of the date.
So, getting a date for your book should take a number of factors into consideration, including:
· Book Reviews – In order to have a shot at getting reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and major magazines or newspapers, a three-to-four-month lead time is needed. This means you need a printed advance review copy (some will accept a digital copy) ready for mailing about four months prior to your official book release date. If your book is due out September, by May 1 you have a galley ready to go.
· Testimonials – In order to see a nice blurb or endorsement on the cover of that galley, you’ll need to seek out testimonials at least six months prior to your book's release, in order to give you enough time to reach out to people, get the blurb, and put it on the book cover or on an inside page of the book. Of course, whenever you get a good testimonial, even after your publication date, you can still put it on your website, in your press kit, and post it on social media. When you reprint the book, you can update it with the latest and best endorsements.
· Website – One of the very first things that you should do once you set a publication date for your book is to craft a website. It’s your business card, your storefront, your home. Use it to pre-sell your book, brand yourself, and get your message out there.
· Press Kit – In order to send your book for review or contact any news media, you’ll need to create a press kit. This collateral is like a resume, but with a few more parts: press release about the book, your bio, suggested interview questions, book excerpts, and related facts, stats, or background materials.
· Speaking Engagements – Whether you plan to speak for free or a fee, you need to pursue these early and often since so many bookstores, libraries, and organizations book events months in advance. Competition is fierce. Some companies or groups plan 8-12 months out. Stores are usually a few months ahead. Libraries too.
· Social Media – Love it or hate it, social media is part of the formula for increasing book sales and generating brand awareness for yourself. Get on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, You Tube, Pinterest, or Instagram. Pick two or three to be really active on – and start creating content that you post regularly. Seek out new connections and followers daily.
· Media Coaching – Though you may not get interviewed by the media until several weeks prior to your book’s launch, it’s never too early to get trained on what to say, how to say it, how to look and act, and what to expect from the media.
· Blogging – Create an editorial calendar for yourself, drafting or outlining, blog posts that you plan to start doing several months prior to the book's release. Your blog helps to sell you and gives you a reason for others to engage with you.
· Podcasting – Determine if you will be a podcaster. If you will, get started before your book is out. You can record but not release your podcasts until a few months before your release date. This way you build up a trove of content to be released steadily while you are busy doing other things.
· Best-Seller Plan – Everyone wants to be a best-seller. Sometimes luck, a great book, and timely media coverage will be enough to get you on a list. Most often, however, an author needs to help orchestrate sales in a timely fashion in order to land on a best-seller list. The best way to accumulate sales for the book’s launch week is to register pre-sales weeks and months before your book is even out. In order to partner with others and sell your book in a way that sales count towards a best-seller list, you’ll need to start a few months prior to the book’s official release.
Remember, you won’t be late to the game if you start playing it before it even begins.
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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