Being Your Own Publicist

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In this section:

Doing it yourself

Author Files for publicity

Rules on sending emails

How not to get blocked for spamming

How to send an email to contacts on the database

Linking my book on the JHP website to my email

How to write a promotional email

Of course authors who are prepared to promote their own book are a publisher’s dream. We do what we can to help you here, by sharing contacts and activities. An author's social media work can be started at any time in the process. But always be aware that when you are promoting your book, you are trying to get people interested in buying it. So timing is important. You want the book to be available for pre-order at least. Our advice is to start promoting the book 6 months ahead of publication and include buy links where possible.

The first step is to make the most of your publicist’s time. Read Promotional Plan and enter in that box on the Book Details page any information that will help them tailor their work to your strengths. Under “Marketing Activities” you will be able to see who your publicist has contacted. Feel free to follow up other contacts in any areas you feel most comfortable with.

There is more specific advice on the different activities in Chapter 11:

There are things that you can do in preparation that don’t involve directly promoting your book. A lot of the activities in this section can be started immediately, upon signing a publishing contract. Most of it is about building an audience for your book. It takes time and effort. You may have already built up an online presence, if so, please check though our advice and see if you have been applying best practises. If you can add advice, or have an example of something you have found to work well in book promotion, please share your experiences with us via the Author Forum.

Doing it yourself

SEO – Search engine optimization. Sounds technical and complicated but put simply, think about the words associated with your book that will draw the attention of the most applicable reader for it. We are talking keywords and metadata. Words that easily portray what your book is about and who it will appeal to. See CHAPTER 3: THE MARKET – KEYWORDS for more information. We ask you to provide keywords here and we will edit these to ensure you have the most appropriate. We suggest that you use these in all communication about the book.

What kind of approaches to marketing do you intend to utilize? This is personal and depends on your skill set and what you are comfortable doing. We are not suggesting that you have to do any of these things, though it helps in the longer-term promotion of your writing.

In this section we offer information to help you develop a strong and influential online author platform.

  • It's no longer easy to avoid self-promotion in the publishing world, and writers in small and large presses are all being encouraged to build their platform – another way of saying that authors must now take charge of how visible they are to readers, how their expertise on a subject is noticed, who their audience is, and what kind of impact they make. Nobody has full control over any of these things, but taking the idea of platform-building seriously will help in the long run to sell more books and find new fans.

  • You cannot do everything and each outlet works in a different way. Take time to become familiar with the ones you want to work with. They have one thing in common – it's about interaction, sharing useful information, being part of a community, and personal recommendation.

  • How do you choose? It's partly personal preference and familiarity, and partly this important question: where are your readers? Demographics show that Pinterest users are mostly women in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Are they your readers? If so, consider sharing photos there. Is your target market the business people in corporate circles? Get on LinkedIn. One of our authors got noticed by the editor of the LinkedIn homepage and now every time an article of his is published on the homepage there is a spike in sales. LinkedIn has reach. So sign up, post an article and remember to mention your book. Do you write for teenagers? Then look at Tumblr.

There's a useful post here:

A website – this is discussed more fully in Author Branding.

A blog – also discussed more fully in Author Branding.

Social media – this takes many forms and will continue to evolve. We have dedicatedCHAPTER 14: SOCIAL MEDIA to the various sites currently being utilised by authors. If you are already using social media, link to us. We have specific genre offerings. See JOHN HUNT PUBLISHING BLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS for more information. Sites discussed are:












On a lot of these social media sites #hashtags are used in a similar way to keywords. How to use them is discussed here in Hashtags. Visual content is important on social media too and we discuss this in Memes. Video content is pretty easy to do yourself with a little bit of ‘kit’, see the YouTube section for information. The content used in one form of social media, can normally be used on the others, for a wide marketing reach.

EVENTS/SIGNINGS – This can be split into different types. Some non-fiction authors may be involved in workshops or talks in their genre field. Fiction authors may get involved in local book festivals. Non-fiction authors may have speaking engagements at international conferences. All authors may choose to do local book store signings or book store readings/talks.

This is profile building. Getting started can be daunting, but some of the smaller venues can be actively seeking speakers, as they too are building a profile as event organisers. Again, there can often be a correlation between your online audience and how you are perceived by others that may want to partner with you. See CHAPTER 11: MARKETING ACTIVITIES – Events/Signings for further advice.

Do you have personal contacts that can provide an Endorsement for your book? These can be sought early on in the process if they are to be included in the book or in the publicity of the book. Please seeCHAPTER 4: ENDORSEMENTS.

Reviews are the lifeblood of your book promotion, so what do you need to do to get them?

Amazon (as a retailer) is a key player when it comes to driving your audience to your book. Amazon suggest that 25 good reviews on or very quickly around launch date is key. This article by publicity expert, Tim Grahl at Book Launch is very helpful indeed. We will use this as our template. Another industry expert, Jane Friedman advises authors to start local with their own publicity efforts. However, this activity is not just about Amazon, it is about word of mouth and social media too. Looking at your list of friends, family and colleagues, you can tell them you have written a book and invite them to buy and read it and leave a review in whatever way they feel comfortable with.

You can ask them to put their review on Amazon and Goodreads if they have accounts already. You can also suggest that they share their review on their own social media feeds.

Be aware that Amazon has a stringent policy about honest reviews, actively seeking out and deleting reviews it deems to be from known associates (family and friends). How they work this out, isn’t clear. Check their Customer Review Guidelines (UK here, US here), they change frequently. More on Amazon in Chapter 12. Online retailers may remove reviews they deem to be used as promotion.

This may sound contradictory with the advice given here, however, if you have a large list of friends/family and colleagues, then telling them that you have written a book and asking them to review is still a good idea. The risk of losing one Amazon review, can be offset by having an active blogger on your list of friends, or someone with a large social media following.

Here are some pointers:

Draw up a list of your personal contacts (family, friends, colleagues for example), as many as possible.

Create an excel spreadsheet to work from.

You have just written and will be publishing a book. This is a huge achievement, why wouldn’t you want to tell people about it?

You are going to offer your contacts a free early PDF of your book.

In return, you are going to request that they give an honest opinion of your book.

You will ask them to put this on Amazon and Goodreads (you need to have active accounts on these platforms), or share on their current social media feeds or blogs if they have them.

NB: This is not unethical or against the rules.

Multiple reviews aid sales of your book, which then increases the reviews, creating a virtuous circle.

Author and Publicist Daniela Norris was advised to do this for her novel and she noted this: “20-25% of the acquaintances who say they'll read a book and review it do so, if you want 10 reviews after publication day, you should ask roughly 50 people.... you might get lucky and get more than 10 reviews”.

Start around 8 weeks prior to launch date.

Email your contacts.

SUBJECT: My New Book
I hope this finds you well! (other personalised niceties, keep it short, it’s not the point of your email)
Over the last (X MONTHS/YEARS), I’ve been working on a new book titled (TITLE OF YOUR BOOK).
I’m excited to announce it is being published in (X WEEKS); it’s going to be available on retail sites such as Amazon and is also available to the book trade.
You might also consider sharing a review on other social media sites that you have. I’d love your help with this.
May I send you a free copy of my book to read? All I ask is that you leave your honest feedback/thoughts as a customer review after (XX/XX/XX give pub date) the day my book comes out.
I’d be happy to send you a PDF copy of the book. Just reply to this email.
Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions.
Thanks so much!

You can encourage your contacts to be part of your support and launch team, if this feels comfortable with you. It is important to get across that this PDF is given for a review on Amazon/Goodreads, and that they mention this in their review.

Send each email individually.

Update the excel spreadsheet with the date 1st email request is sent.

Update excel spreadsheet with responses and when you send the PDF.

Be prompt to keep up momentum.

You can go one step further and use an online converter and create a zip file MOBI, EPUB and PDF, this covers all possible devices. Calibre is a free software that converts PDFs and EPUBs to a variety of formats for different readers and for both Mac and PC. Instructions are easy to follow.

Using your spreadsheet for those that agreed to review, two weeks prior to launch date, send them another enthusiastic email.


SUBJECT: Just 2 Weeks!
Thanks again for agreeing to review my new book (TITLE OF THE BOOK)!
I’m so excited to be putting this book out into the world (xx/xx/xx – pub date).
I just wanted to follow up to see if you had any questions before you leave your review after launch day.
If you don’t know what to say in the review, just leave a couple sentences with your thoughts and feedback.
Also, be sure to mention that you received a free review copy of the book.
Have a great rest of the week!

Two weeks gives those that have not committed time to read the book enough notice to do so now.

Send another email two days prior to publication date. As a reminder that the book is due on xx/xx/xx – pub date and thanking them for their support.


SUBJECT: My New Book
It’s just two days away! My book (title) will be let loose into the world.
Thank you for being part of my support and launch team. Leaving your review on Amazon/Goodreads or your own social media feeds will make such a difference.
Also, be sure to mention that you received a free review copy of the book.
Thank you!

And finally, the publication-date email. Send it first thing in the morning, if you have contacts on both hemispheres, do two.


SUBJECT: Launch Day!
I just wanted to send you a quick reminder that today my new book (TITLE OF THE BOOK) is available! This means you’re now able to leave a review.
Click here to leave an Amazon customer review for my new book. (Link that sentence to the actual review page on Any positive review you leave on social media is greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much for helping me with this launch! I truly appreciate it.
And please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you!

That Amazon link is important, make it easy for your contact.

As a final touch, email them all to thank them when they post their review.

You can also try local media, focus on regional rather than national publicity – which really needs some media training. Here are some general pointers on how to make contact:

Pitching articles to build your profile. These can be extracts from your book that standalone as an article, or write an article on any aspect of your book. For non-fiction, this seems more obvious, but it can be too for fiction, you just need to think more creatively. Last year our author Nigel Jay Cooper was promoting his book Beat the Rain, and women’s magazine (Female First) pick up on the fact that Nigel had written from both a male and female perspective in his book. They asked him to write about just that. You can write articles for blog sites on online magazine sites as well as print. Many print magazines now have an online presence, so if you don’t make the print version, stay open to publishing the same piece online with them. See Chapter 11 Marketing Activities –Articles/Extracts for further advice.

Pitching for interviews to talk about your book and or your work is another useful tool in building your building your profile. There are so many options out there now too. National and International exposure is at the very top of this, through to local radio, and with Blog Talk radio shows and Youtube channels thrown in for good measure. Interviews can be conducted in person (rare, but possible), by phone and via internet services like Skype. See CHAPTER 11: MARKETING ACTIVITIES –INTERVIEWS for further advice.

If you are aware of specific awards that your book would be a good match for, please check if we have them, or add to the Contacts database. Contact them yourself where you can, or ask us if it has to come from the publisher. More information can be found in CHAPTER11: MARKETING ACTIVITIES – AWARD SUBMISSIONS.

For an example of writing emails to request reviews, please see Chapter 11: MARKETING ACTIVITIES – REVIEWCOPIES, the end of that section contains some examples from our publicists.

Author Files for publicity


Go to the Production page, scroll down to [ - ] FINAL FILES choose High Res Cover - 300ppi.

Download the file to your PC to use for PR.

PDF review copy, Press Release, AI Tipsheet.

Go to the Marketing page, scroll down to [ - ] PUBLICITY choose either PDF Review Copy, AI Tipsheet or Press Release.

Download the file and use this for PR.

Rules on sending emails

  • Keep them to individuals. If you happen to know a book reviewer from a high-profile paper, then by all means send them one, you may be more likely to catch their attention than the publicist. Otherwise, target individuals with similar interests to your own.
  • Put the hook in the subject line. Don't lead with the book. Lead with the hook or the story, what that book will do for people.
  • Do email contacts on the database even if they have not given permission, or contacts you come across that are not up there, and add them.
  • It’s a difficult area for us as unsolicited emails counter current European legislation – you are not supposed to send someone a sales email unless they have specifically said they want to receive it. Rules in the USA are less severe, but if we get blocked on one email address in an organization we’re likely to be blocked on all of them, and it’s easy for servers to get “spam-blocked” so nothing at all can go out.

How not to get blocked for spamming

  • Limit quantity; it varies from provider to provider, but for AOL for instance the limit to the number of addresses you can send to in one go is around 20. Our own limit, with VPOP3, if we are sending to non-subscribers, is 50.
  • Anything too complex in different text fonts and with pictures might not get through.
  • Avoid using too many hyperlinks.
  • Do ask contacts, if you can, if they would like to receive a regular email newsletter on new titles, so that we can mark them as "subscribed."
  • Mail handlers use a points system to determine whether an email is spam or not. They scan the body of the email and points are assigned for certain keywords, and above a certain number, the email will go straight to spam. "Free" for instance will send the email to spam.
  • Do not send an attachment with your email, most people will not open it because of the risk of a virus. And if it is too bulky it takes too long to download.
  • By all means use our Newsletter/press release as a guide for your own. Cut and paste the body of the text into your email and then modify it to suit your contact.
  • If you want to include an image of your cover, insert it into the body of your email after first downloading the cover image that you will find on the Production page.
  • Keep emails to one page. Do add where the books are available from; the relevant distributor in your country, and relevant wholesalers, eg. in the USA, Ingrams, Baker & Taylor, etc.
  • Do not email links to files (such as the ePub files) to external parties. Files stored in the JHP system are only accessible from within the system. This is to protect your content.
  • But any general advice on spam goes out of date quickly and isn't universal. Best to google. e.g. How to AvoidSpam Filters

How to send an email to contacts on the database

  • Click on “Contacts” tab.
  • Search all contacts.
  • Tick required search fields e.g. country, types, categories, then click on “Search.”
  • Label and save search.
  • Go back up and click on “Saved Searches.”
  • Run the saved search to get list of contacts. Copy and paste into Excel file. Copy and paste column of up to 50 email addresses into Outlook BCC.

Linking my book on the JHP website to my email

  • Open the website, go to your book page there, and minimize the window. Write your email. Include the title of the book. Highlight it. Go back to the website. Copy the URL address at the top of the screen (URL in the browser search field), including the http://. Go back to your email, open the hyperlink box, (if it’s not visible, click on "Insert" first) and paste the URL http:// link into the address line. Click on "OK."
  • Your highlighted title should then appear in color. When you send the email the recipient should be able to go straight to the relevant page of the website by clicking on this link to the title.
  • Use "friendly" (without numbers) URLs, e.g. or even Scarlet Cord. You can also compress URLs into even simpler friendlier words using services like Bitly or globalize your Amazon links using Genius Link.

How to write a promotional email

  • As with letters, individual emails will often produce a result, junk "mass" mail rarely does. Your approach should be personalized, relevant to that particular contact. Look at their website and see what topics they cover and tailor your email accordingly. If you mail merge, it will show.
  • Be careful with the salutation. Do not mush it in with the rest of the email. Be polite and respectful – “Dear Joe…” Don’t use “Hi” and never use “To whom it may concern.” Do not use other CC: contacts.
  • Date the top of the email. Remember to mention your book(s) and include a short biography and the metadata e.g. format, ISBNs and price. Send your own photo or book-cover picture when it is requested. Include your phone number, address and any website/blog.
  • Keep it short, sweet, to the point. But it doesn’t hurt to pay a compliment at the beginning.
  • Make it clear in the first few lines what you are after: a review, interview, article, whatever.
  • Don't request a read receipt.
  • Don't type in capitals.
  • Pre-empt questions.
  • Check before sending.
  • Don't use URGENT or IMPORTANT.
  • If something comes of it, send a thank-you note.
  • Add the activity to the Marketing page.