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.
This is 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 you 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.
Being your own publicist is 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 answering 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 businesspeople 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.
And remember to focus on what you enjoy doing – that generally works best too.
Our top-selling authors promote their books consistently, way beyond publication, for days, months, and even years.
Sadly, some authors have little motivation or patience to promote their own book and expect people to just magically discover it. They won’t!
Your publicist will put energy, skill and passion into your campaign, but they only have a finite amount of time to focus on your title.
You must utilize what you have at your disposal to promote your work yourself.
With the right focus, the right work ethic and an abundance of motivation, the rewards can be fruitful.
We suggest once your final, copyedited manuscript has been approved by you and uploaded back to us. This is when we send out our Starting to Market (Key Points) notification.
This is roughly a year before your book comes out.
Find and chase endorsements. They are so important when it comes to creating a powerful first impression.
When the release date arrives, announce it to your networks! This is an exciting event!
When you have your publication date, organize a book signing. These are a fantastic opportunity to present your book at a grassroots level, build a relationship with a local retailer and for your publicists to work a localized media campaign (press, radio, local book groups etc.) supporting the event.
Some of the larger chains like Barnes and Noble and Waterstones ask that you pop into your local store and ask directly. Most bookstores require a minimum of two to three months' notice, so start contacting them early. Source as many signings as you can – if possible, make it a full-on book tour, including book-signing events, local talks, and appearances at book festivals and book fayres.
For every book signing you arrange add it to the Sales to Trade forum and one of our helpful and friendly sales team will contact the store and help them with the ordering process.
A website – this is discussed more fully in Author Branding.
This will aid the efforts of the reps and boost visibility; the best time to elicit pre-orders is in the two or three months running up to publication day.
Always include buy links on your promotional material (use pre-order links if it is before publication date – your book is usually available to pre-order on Amazon about nine months before publication date).
If you are happy for your publicist to try and source radio and podcast interviews for you then add eight talking points/questions that they can use in pitching your interview to in Promotional Plan.
Remember, there are tens of thousands of authors and publicists in the world sourcing interviews, so really highlight areas that will make you stand out. For example, human interest stories often make a difference. Did something happen that prompted you to write this book? Podcasting, T.V., web and radio show hosts and producers are less interested in the writing process and more in YOU and the story behind your book.
Once you see your book is listed on Amazon (usually around nine months before publication) you can join Amazon Author Central. This is a fantastic resource for helping build your profile and promote your book.
Now is the time to really find the social networks that suit your voice and skills the best. Don't expect to be able to waltz into relevant communities where you have no presence and have people want to buy your book – the social part of social media is really important.
Research blogs that are relevant to your title, and consider pitching to them.
Get to know the JHP Author Facebook Groups. Socialize. You could organize a review swap with another author(s). Co-operation always outsells competition.
Add relevant Awards which we don’t have to the Contacts Database.
Contact yourself where you can, or ask us via the Author Forum if it has to come from the publisher.
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. Make sure you’ve filled the Keywords section on your Marketing page to the best of your ability. 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.
All of these will benefit your Search Engine Optimization and increase the chance of people finding you via organic search
These can be:
Stand-alone ideas for one-off articles, based on any aspect of your book.
Offers of an extract from your book that standalone as an article.
For non-fiction, this seems more obvious, but it can be too for fiction, you just need to think more creatively.
Recently our author Nigel Jay Cooper was promoting his book Beat the Rain, and women’s magazine (Female First) picked 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.
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.
There are so many options for you to try. 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.
And make sure you let your publicist know by adding what you do as a Marketing Activity.
Your publicist will encourage industry and media reviewers to read and review your title. You can contribute significantly too by encouraging your friends, family and social media contacts to leave as many reviews on Amazon as possible around your publication date.
Never be shy for asking for support. If your friends opened a restaurant or shop you would no doubt support them. Your book is a fantastic achievement and something to take pride in and asking for support will really help your book succeed.
The rules around Amazon reviews are tricky and Amazon changes its mind on who can leave reviews regularly.
The important thing is that you solicit reviews honorably.
Amazon has a stringent policy about honest reviews, actively seeking out and deleting reviews it deems to be from, for example, people with “a close personal relationship” to the author.
Amazon will allow book reviews on publication day, however. The more engagement (sales, reviews, wishlist requests) Amazon has, the more its algorithm will promote your book to readers of similar titles and the more sales you can potentially make.
Tips on writing a great review on Amazon
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”.
For some email pro-formas, and more advice on this, check out Tim Grahl’s article on the subject.
PDF review copy, AI Tipsheet.
Download the file and use this for PR.
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.