Monday, December 20, 2010

When Should You Start Promoting Your Book?

Several Avalon authors, myself included, have new novels scheduled to release in 2011. The question always arises about when should you start promoting your book. I ran across an article written by Sandra Beckworth who is a publicist. With her permission, I am passing on to you her expert advice.

How far before the publication month do you need to start working on book publicity and promotion? You need to initiate some tactics long before your publication date while others can be executed after the book is available for purchase. What should you do before publication and when? Here’s a partial list with timing; all of it applies to both fiction and nonfiction.

* Lay the social networking groundwork as soon as possible. About 12 months before your publication date, determine which blogs, Facebook groups, online discussion groups/forums, etc., reach your book’s target audience and are in a position to influence the people you wrote the book for. Establish relationships with the bloggers and begin participating in discussions so you will not be a stranger on these influential sites when you want to promote your book through them. start following the “right” people on Twitter, and tweeting appropriately about your topic, so you become known as somebody who is knowledgeable about your book’s topic. You can do all of this six months—even three months—before your publication date, but the more time you spend making connections before the book comes out, the stronger those connections will be by your pub date.

* Compile your review copy media at least six months out. Typically, publishers send advice review copies to press anywhere from four to six months before publication date, but some wait until the book is published. Some publishers compile the media list while others depend on the author to provide it. and even when publishers create the list, they still welcome input from the author, who might have relationships with specific journalists. If you’re responsible for generating the entire list, give yourself enough time to do the research.

* Write the announcement press release three to six months in advance. You want it written and ready for distribution with advanced review copies; you’ll also use it when you pitch articles and broadcast segments on the book’s topic to long lead publications such as magazines.

* Develop magazine article ideas four to six months in advance. If you’ve got print magazine publicity potential, you’ll want to start pitching ideas four to five months before your publication date so that you get exposure when or shortly after books start hitting stores.

* Generate broadcast interview segment ideas six weeks out. Start pitching TV and radio stations about a month before your book is certain to be in stores. You can do this closer to your pub date, too, but starting a little earlier lets you identify which topics resonate and how you might refine your pitch.

*Get media training four to six weeks before the book is available. If you need media training, don’t wait until “The Daily Show” calls to book you. You’ll benefit most from the training when you aren’t anxious about a scheduled interview but when it’s close enough to your media blitz that you won’t forget what you’ve learned.

* Contact bloggers when the book is available for purchase. The beauty of online media exposure is that it can line to a purchase URL on Amazon,, your site, or any online book retailer. You don’t want to waste that link on a book that can’t be purchased immediately.

* Send press releases and tip sheets only after the book is available for purchase. You can get exposure almost immediately in newspapers so you want people to be able to buy your book as soon as they learn about it.

Personally, I’ve never thought about media training. In fact, until reading Sandra’s article, I’d never heard of media training. I’m not sure if the ‘Daily Show’ or any other show would call to interview me on their program however, the information Sandra has provided is noteworthy. (You just never know when Oprah will call.)

A publicist for Disney World spoke to my local writers group. She specified not to waste money buying ads in magazines such as RWR or RT. Her point being that you are reaching only other authors. Rather, she suggested using your money to place an ad about your book in an odd section of the classified ads in local/surrounding newspapers e.g. the pet section or the lost and found section—where the ad is sure to catch the attention of readers. I haven’t tried this so I can’t vouch for its selling factor. Yet, it is cheaper than buying an ad in the above mentioned magazines.

The following are a few of my own marketing tools:

* Since Avalon books are primarily distributed to public libraries, one of the marketing strategies I’ve used is to check on for all the libraries who shelve my books. I send them a ‘Thank You’ and several bookmarks. Hopefully, this will entice them to purchase my next Avalon book.

* Another marketing tool I use for not only my Avalon books, but for my The Wild Rose Press novels, is to research all the chain bookstores who list my books in their catalogs or online stores. I also send them a ‘Thank You’ note, bookmarks and a brochure about my upcoming book (as soon as I have a book cover and prior to release date). Not many bookstore chains shelve Avalon Books so I haven’t seen results from this. I know this strategy works with my paperbacks because I just received a nice royalty check from TWRP.

* I make friends with all the librarians, the library publicity person, and the library book acquisitions person, in my county. It doesn’t cost much to make up little goody packages (a cellophane bag filled with a bookmark, Hershey kisses, and a pocket calendar w/my logo and website) to give them at Christmas. You could tailor this around the release of your new novel.

* When I get junk mail, if an envelope is enclosed, I stick one of my bookmarks in it with a note stating, “I received your junk mail, now I’m sending you mine.”

* When I’m traveling, if there’s a bulletin board in the cafĂ©/restaurant/gas station where I stop, I always use one of their thumbtacks to post several business cards. Does this work? I recently received an email from a lady in Alabama saying she’d purchased my latest TWRP American Historical, BANNON’S BRIDES. I offered to send her an autographed bookplate. She was thrilled.

*I also strike up conversations when I’m getting my van serviced or at the beauty shop, or even waiting in line at the movies. I give the person one of my business cards. Recently, I received an email from a lady whom I’d met at the car dealership, saying she’d visited my website and had purchased one of each of my books. Hey, whatever works?

If you have innovative marketing strategies you use, I hope you will be generous and share them with us.

To all my author friends and visitors to Avalon Authors’ Blog, I wish you a --MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH, FELIZ NAVIDAD, and FRöHLICHE WEIHNACTEN!


Jennifer Shirk said...

GREAT tips! Thanks!

Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

I have just sold A Ghost of a Chance at Love, a western time travel ghost story, which will be out next year (date TBA), and I began promoting immediately. Once you have a fan base, everyone wants to know when your next release is coming!

1st, I posted it to my loops. Next, I added a blurb and photo to my website for upcoming releases since I get tons of looks at that. I had bought pictures to use for movie trailers, so can make up a book trailer soon. When I have an edited copy, I'll send it out for early reviews, for some even that I can add to the book cover. These all can be done really early. Some, like adding reviews to the cover or on Amazon (editorial reviews) have to be done way ahead of time.

Another thing is to get hold of colleges you've graduated from. I listed mine on my website, and got a query from one to do a story on my books. I've been featured in newspapers and alumni magazines. Just get hold of various news media sources where you have some connection. :)

Should you start promoting early? Absolutely!

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Jennifer--good luck with your promoting. Terry--thanks for your promo tips. I'm sure all who drop by will gain from them.

Joselyn Vaughn said...

These are great! I love the idea of returning bookmarks with junk mail.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Joselyn, I especially love it when those envelopes come with postage. I've often wondered what the reaction is when the people who sent the junk mail open the envelopes and find my bookmark. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

Beate Boeker said...

Great list, Loretta! I should start right now (with my next release due out in April), but I admit I'm not into marketing my books as much as you are. Love the junk mail idea! :-)

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Believe me, I'd rather write than market. Marketing is a time thief, but we do what we have to do to build a fan base who buy books.

Fran Shaff said...

Great advice! Rookies and pros alike can benefit from your wisdom.

Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the information. And thaks for your additional thoughts, Terry. I need to get busy!