Promote Your Work? Why?

My guest today is Edward Talbot, author of the thriller New World Orders, available as a free audiobook online. This post was originally a discussion for the “Help Support Independent Publishers!” group on Facebook, but I thought it important enough to index here. I especially found the questions at the end of the article astute, so when planning your marketing strategy, keep them in mind. Talbot wrote: 

When you’re talking about independent publishers, changes in the publishing industry, how can new authors get noticed, and a number of other topics, a lot of the discussion turns to publicity and promotion. We’ve had some excellent discussions in this group already. In the twenty-first century, an author is adding a nearly insurmountable burden when he or she doesn’t pay close attention this this side of the business.

We’ve all read or heard the words of wisdom. Treat writing as a business. Create a web site. Create a blog. Do contests and giveaways. Books signings and talk radio go without saying. All these are valuable suggestions. But to my mind, the most important thing that can be missed is a sense of exactly what you are aiming for.

We want to sell books, of course. But exactly how does a book-signing, for example, sell books? Well, the book store advertises the signing, you show up, and a bunch of people buy signed copies. Of course, you might blow most of a day to sell several dozen copies on which you make 10% of the cover price. The hope is that the buyers tell their friends, and also come back for your next release. The question I would ask is whether there are better uses of your time?

I want to note that I am NOT suggesting book signings are a bad thing. Not at all. They may not be better uses of your time. If your only response to my post is to defend book signings, then relax, I like ’em too. I could have used talk radio, blogging or contests as examples instead. These are all valuables tools. But I am trying to make two points

1. There is never time to do enough promotion and publicity. I mean that literally. You could cut your sleep to an hour a night and that would still be the case. There’s always one more set of letters or emails to send, one more audience to try to connect with. For that reason, it is imperative that you target your efforts and look closely at everything you do. I work full-time at a reasonably high-powered job. I exercise regularly. I have a wife and a child. I’m rarely going to stop writing to focus solely on promotion, because the next deadline will always be out there once I’m published. I suspect that having these commitments is the rule, not the exception. I can’t afford not to take a critical look at every single thing I do for my writing business. I use the word business partially in jest because right now it’s a bunch of red numbers. But I think of it as a business.

2. It’s important to model after people who have been successful, but there is a difference between model and copy. Tiger Woods would say he’s modeled himself after any number of people. But he has also forged his own unique approach. We as writers need to do the same thing. Don’t just do what everyone else does because that’s what worked for them. Apply a critical eye. Trust yourself (and your agent and publisher if you have them) to figure it out. And try new things, but analyze them honestly.

Before I ask the specific questions, I’d like to make a couple of brief mentions that I think are appropriate for the topic. First, my fellow podcaster J.C. Hutchins wrote a blog post last week called “Spontaneous Human Promotion.” If you want to hear thoughts on this topic from someone who used promotional creativity to go from an unpublished, unagented author to awaiting the launch of the first in a multi-book deal with a major publisher, check out his post at:

http://jchutchins.net/site/2009/01/29/spontaneous-human-promotion/

Second, I’d just like to share one of my favorite quotes that I think applies to most of us at one point or another. I treasure a good quote, whether it’s from a song, a book, or just conjured out of the air in a conversation. They’re like gems that never lose their lustre. Most of us really believe we’ve written something good, and it can be very difficult to take it when it seems that few others share the opinion. It makes promotion particularly difficult, right at a point that you need it the most. And it makes it very easy to start blaming the publisher, agent, the industry as a whole, etc. I try to remember Don Henley’s words:

“Have you noticed that an angry man can only get so far? Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be with the way things are.”

Comment on anything I’ve written, but here are three questions to discuss specifically:

1. Name at least one thing you do to promote yourself that is not common. Tell us how it has worked and why you think it works.

2. Tell us as least one common promotion technique that you don’t use because you’ve realized it simply is not effective for you. And tell us exactly why it is not effective for you.

3. If you are either published, or have at least one novel-length work you are trying to get published, on average, how many hours a week do you spend on things that build and/or support your audience but don’t directly generate income? I know if you aren’t published, you might ask yourself what you could possibly be doing to build an audience. Maybe nothing. But while you’re doing nothing, other authors are thinking outside the box and building their fan bases. Who knows, you may come up with something no one’s tried yet. There’s only one way to find out.

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A Bookseller’s Perspective on How to Promote Your Book

Michelle Maycock worked in independent bookstores in Virginia and North Carolina as a buyer and manager, and as an independent publishers’ rep in the 1990s selling to bookstores in the Southeast. She now teaches in the Professional Writing program at Virginia Tech. Maycock offers valuable advice to authors:

As a former trade bookseller and book sales representative with twenty years experience, I would like to add the booksellers’ perspective on how to promote your book.

Help but do not push your local booksellers to sell your book. Let’s face it; nice paper books are a technology that some people are going to like for a long time. If you can capture that market too, even locally, it will get you ‘out there.’ If you prefer to read or publish digitally, keep in mind that there is still a market out there for nice cozy paper between boards . . . And digital authors can learn a few lessons from the business formerly known as the book trade. Goodwill (as Dr. Garte mentioned in many places in his blog article) and gently supplying concise, useful information about yourself and your book are your best (I was going to say “weapons,” but let’s tone down the adversarial and go with) strategies. Think of everyone online as potential customers, and bookstores and booksellers as your business partners, and they will be more likely to go to work for you.

Persistence pays off eventually. There is that famous proverb quoted by Oprah that ‘luck is when opportunity meets preparation.’ Frank McCourt remarked that he knew he was exceptionally lucky when Angela’s Ashes became a hit. It was a moment he had been preparing for all of his life, from trying out his stories on his students and writing all of his life. Successful authors are exceptionally hardworking and exceptionally personable.

ALWAYS be pleasant, and do not be pushy. Bookstore people have a lot of work to do, and unless or sometimes even if they own the store, they are not hugely compensated. They are bombarded with requests to put self-published books on consignment, many of which are of questionable quality. Keep in mind that they work retail, which requires infinite patience, a strong back, feet of iron, a keen intellect and a very good memory. All of which means, they will remember if you act out.

Don’t assume that because someone works in marketing or in a bookstore that they are not well read. I have a friend who is a retired Shakespeare professor emeritus who happens to work part-time a big chain bookstore. The bookosphere is peopled by lots of people with extensive literary knowledge. Don’t be afraid of them! They love books and words just as much as you do. It is ultimately a very rewarding business, whether or not you make money at it. Being a successful author is a full-time job, and promoting yourself, whether online or in person, is a second full-time job. Authoring is a public enterprise-if you are writing for the public, take the time to make your book the best it can be-get it edited by someone else with expertise, and then get a second opinion, even before you go to a publisher. Quality sells. There is too much competition out there in all channels-and other people are willing to help.

Even if you are a bestselling author, any bad or condescending behavior on your part will not sell your book. This also goes with book signings. Don’t pull a tantrum if no one shows up for your signing. That could be your own fault. But even the best-planned events sometimes don’t draw enough people. It may have just been bad timing. Live and learn. If you are lucky enough to get a signing event, invite everyone you know. Be ready to help the bookseller have a reasonable quantity of your book. Graciousness under pressure will endear you to the bookseller as well as the general public. When you appear in a public forum, keep your opinions low key and test the water carefully before offering up any criticisms. Remember, you want booksellers and other people in general to remember how nice, intelligent and interesting you are so that they will recommend you to other people. Any ill will or petty gossip in their direction can sabotage your whole effort.

One bestselling author said he would sign his name on the back of people’s hands if that would make them happy. Say or ask something personal about each person who brings a book to you to be signed. Stay a little longer if the line is long, and make an effort to talk to anyone who is interested in your book, even if they are pretending! Be friendly and comment pleasantly to as many people as you can who show interest in your work on sites like Facebook. A nationally known author once friended me because I said something nice about his or her book on the FB fan page, and now I have bought the earlier books and tell all of my friends and students that they ought to read this author.

As far as the booksellers are concerned, they cannot always give one author more attention than any other, and everyone wants their attention. Being a pest will not do you much good either. You want word of mouth buzz . . .  make it always positive and you will go far!

Being a nuisance is not a good way to promote yourself.

Information is key. Talk up your book to booksellers, but be brief (they have thousands of other books to worry about). Don’t pester them to buy more of your book if a few copies sell. Gentle reminders, maybe a nice email or note, but don’t demand. They have to make minimum orders. And if they have had two copies of your book for six weeks, they are unlikely to get more. And maybe they are not in charge of the budgeting.

It is your job to get out there on the web and in public and sell your ideas and the book that goes with them — then maybe then your book will start appearing in larger numbers on shelves and will get ordered online and reordered too! Keep in mind that you have to be very persistent. John Grisham’s first novel was published by a small publisher, but he kept working to promote himself and sending his next book out to bigger publishers. Having a second book ready before you launch is not a bad idea. But all of this takes a lot of determination, energy and patience, but it can pay off.

Writing Columns and Branding — Interview with Author Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries savors the countryside in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at http://www.legardemysteries.com/ and http://www.mooremysteries.com/ and watch for newest releases, Mazurka, coming January 2009 and Healey’s Cave, March 2009.

Bertram: Is a having a column valuable for a writer?

Aaron: Columns provide multiple avenues to “spread the word.” Not only are they ideal opportunities for building name recognition and growing ones circle of readers, but they also provide connections with real live people, especially if they’re online and feature a “comments” section.

There’s nothing more satisfying than posting an article on writing advice, or even general “life lessons,” and receiving voluminous responses ranging from “thanks for sharing,” to “you made my day!” I love connecting with readers on every level, whether they are LeGarde Mystery fans or just plain humans with common passions or angst.

Of course, if readers enjoy your columns, they may well enjoy your books. So it’s a natural progression for column readers to ask questions about and then devour the series, one book at a time.

Bertram: What are the drawbacks of having a column?

Aaron: Okay, here’s the rub. Being asked to write a regular column is a coup, right? It’s a validation that a magazine editor or literary journal host believes in your work and thinks readers would come back to you, week after week, or month after month. What an honor! But there is a down side. The pressure can be tough to produce something fresh and new on a regular basis. And of course, it takes away from your pure writing time if you’re a book author.

I write “Seedlings,” a monthly column that started life at Bob Burdick’s “The Back Room,” literary journal, then moved into the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and the Voice in the Dark Literary journal at mysteryfiction.net. I also host the Gather.com (a social network) “Writing Essentials” group on Saturday mornings. The latter involves reading and approving/declining writing submissions for the day, depending on their quality and consistency within established guidelines. I also post an article each week, addressing group members. Sometimes I appeal to their “writerly” sides, with articles filled with writing advice or even book reviews. At other times I write about my life, or grandchildren, or dog. ;o) But I try to consistently show up (with the exception of vacations, severe illness or catastrophes) and touch base with the group on Saturday mornings. Of course, my weekends are packed with chores – so I have to rise extra early to prepare for this. It’s a big commitment, and one I don’t take lightly.

Bertram: How does a writer go about pitching a column?

Aaron: I’m embarrassed to admit that I never had to pitch a column. They sort of “came” to me. LOL. That said, if I were trying to snag such a job from scratch, I would create my own “column” by branding it with a name, photo, and logo, and posting regularly on social or writers sites, such as http://www.gather.com/ or Murder By 4, a blog that I host with three wonderful writers that appeals to both writers and readers. Becoming a regular contributor to such sites will increase your name recognition and may result in someone else asking you to join their journal or newsletter.

Let me share what I mean by branding. For “Seedlings,” I chose a beautiful photo I’d taken of my tangerine Siberian Wallflowers. Full of color, it epitomized my passion for life, gardens, and all things beautiful. It symbolized “me,” in that I am always either out in my gardens, or dragging my characters around their gardens, or picking bountiful baskets of vegetables and fruit from my gardens. While up to my elbows in soft earth, I’m always happy. You get the idea.

While you’re creating your lovely stable of columns, by creating these bits and pieces that go with it — you are branding yourself.

And as long as your host(s) don’t mind you republishing your work, there’s no reason why one can’t post in multiple sites — social networks, writers groups, your own blog, simultaneously. It can get complicated, though. I have to keep a massive spreadsheet of all my reviews and columns to keep track of what posted where and when!

Be sure to have a collection of pieces you can draw on — if you are pitching a column, you need to “have” a column with multiple articles that you use to showcase your talents. Shoot for somewhere between 800 and 2000 words to start, but naturally you must comply with your host’s submission requirements in all cases.

Bertram: How did you get your column?

Aaron: I started corresponding with Bob Burdick (aka RC Burdick) after reading his wonderful mystery, The Margaret Ellen. (that’s another great topic, how reviews help increase credibility and internet presence) and falling in love with his characters and writing style. We struck up a friendship, and one day he asked me to write a piece about “The Writer’s Life.” I did, and thus was born the “Seedlings” columns. Prior to that I’d thrust all my writing energy into my novels. But it didn’t take long for this form – a bit more casual and folksier than my mysteries – to become addictive. Once established at Bob’s site, I also posted on my blog and other locations. Soon I was asked to do Seedlings for FMAM, and it grew from there.

Bertram: Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Aaron: If your ultimate goal is to promote your books through networking — a worthy endeavor — columns are a wonderful way to enhance the process. But don’t stop there. Be sure to join writers’ groups, read extensively and post reviews, keep your website fresh and exciting, and participate in as many library and book events as possible. I love reading aloud to my fans – and that has brought in new opportunities on radio and live events. Just be careful to balance these efforts so that you still have time to write!

Selling Your Book to Readers — Part II

Today I am again honored to have as a guest blogger Seymour Garte, PhD.  Dr. Garte is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences of the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh PA.  He is also the author of  Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of the Planet. Dr. Garte writes:

In the absence of a major marketing campaign ala Harry Potter, the best way to get your book sold is through publicity. Which basically means free advertising. Book reviews are wonderful publicity, even if they are not gushing with praise. A really bad review is of course, not good, but those are also rare. The big question is how to get your book reviewed. You publicist will send out galleys or books to whomever she thinks might be interested in the book. These days, this will include blogs, and other web based media, which can have more readers than some newspapers. It will also include the local media in your hometown. She might try some of the bigger national magazines or journals, but they get swamped with requests to review.

The hardest books to publicize are general literature fiction. Genre fiction (romance, sci fi, crime, thrillers etc.) are easier, because there are specialty web sites, organizations, newsletters, and other outlets that often allow for free publicity of new books. Non-fiction is much easier, because (depending on the subject of course) there is the possibility of the author taking a role as an expert in the media. Again, this is where your publicist comes in.

Television and radio are major outlets for book publicity. You have seen the results of the work of publicists, when you watch any TV show with a guest who has just published a book. In fact, most talk show guests are there to publicize their books. There are two ways to get on a national TV talk show or major network. 1. Be famous already. 2. Have a book that talks about something incredibly topical. Local TV shows are much easier to get onto (my first publicity gig was on a local TV show), but of course don’t have the selling potential of any national program.

If your book is on the theory that massive biological extinctions were caused by gigantic earthquakes, and your book release date is two weeks after a gigantic earthquake in California, you might have a shot to get on CNN, or one of the morning shows. Radio, TV and print all follow the news cycle. If your book is on dieting, and there is a news story about some famous star fainting from lack of food, you could get lots of calls. If your book is on the Middle East, and the Israeli tanks start moving, get ready for a barrage of calls. In my case, there was a toxic scare of lead in toys from China, Al Gore’s Nobel Prize, and a few other environmentally related news items that put me in demand. And then the election campaign started, and all books NOT about politics just died for 8 months You might surmise from this that luck is a big player in getting publicity, and you are right.

Radio, talk radio in particular, is the medium where authors of non-fiction can do well. Your publicist will get you booked on as many radio shows as possible.  Of course not all radio shows are equal. Some like Mankow from Chicago, get almost a million rush hour listeners. Others, like a thoughtful health and environment show from Oregon, might get only a few hundred listeners, but they tend to be loyal and really listen. Of course the more topical the subject of your book, the more likely you are to get booked.

My publicist sent me a whole kit on how to do radio. I am lucky in that I have a good radio voice, a hammy personality, and not a shy bone in my body, so I turned out to be a natural. The better you do on the early shows, the easier it is for the publicist to get more bookings. 

Doing radio shows is fun, but can be frustrating. Often the host has no idea about your book, other than reading the title and inside flap 5 minutes before airtime. Sometimes their questions are absurd, sometimes they get your name or the title wrong. I did the Mankow show twice, and got about 5 minutes of airtime. My publicist assured me this was the equivalent of a full-page ad in the Times. Most of the shows I did were a half hour to an hour. I appeared in person at two or three shows, and sat in the studio, but most of the time the interview is by phone.

Remember these rules when doing a live radio interview (most are live, taped shows are much easier of course). Use a fixed phone, not a cell phone, but have a cell phone handy for emergencies. Wherever you are, make sure your phone will not run out of battery charge. Lock the door, and post a sign outside that says in large letters “DO NOT ENTER OR KNOCK. FOR ANY REASON. EVEN FOR FIRE OR EMERGENCY.”

While on the phone in an interview, you need full concentration. I learned both of those rules the hard way.

During the two months following the release date, I did on average 4 radio shows a week. On some days I did 3 or 4 a day. Usually the notice would come the day before by email or cell phone. “Tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM EST, half hour live at KOMG, Boston, they will call you.” I got used to the routine. If the show was to start at 7:30, the phone would ring at 7:29, a producer would ask if I was ready, then put me on so I could hear the feed, (usually a commercial) and then the host says, “I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Seymour Garte, author of Where We Stand, A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet. Welcome to the show, Dr. Garte.”

“Thank you Bruce, it’s a pleasure to be here.”

“So what do you think about this whole Global Warming stuff?”

Now my  book is about the environment, but only makes a passing comment about global warming. Doesn’t matter, the host will ask about what interests him or her, not about what your book is about. And what interests the host is what interests their listeners, which is usually whatever is on the news that day. When Al Gore won the Nobel Prize, I got a lot of bookings, but everybody wanted to talk only about global warming and Al Gore. The trick is to turn the conversation away from the host’s topic to your book’s topic, which is not that hard to do.

It is fine to say controversial stuff, because it leads to more phone calls, which is good for the host. But be very very careful to say nothing mean, derogatory or insulting toward either host or callers. If you do, you are through, and you will not get another show. Your publicist will stop trying to get you booked.

Book tours, readings and signings in bookstores are well-known publicity methods for all types of books, fiction and non-fiction. The rules for getting book signings are much more fluid than for radio shows. Some bookstores will only book authors through publishers or publicists. Other, smaller stores in smaller towns, are open to new authors suggesting a book signing, especially if the author is a local resident. The idea of a publisher paying for a new author to do a national tour promoting their book is long dead. The publisher will try to get you signings in stores near where you live, or if you tell them you will be in San Francisco for a month, they will try there. But they will not pay your expenses.

Here is the main thing about book signings and readings at bookstores. If no one shows up, it’s a disaster. In fact, some stores will want to see your mailing list or know how many people have agreed to come to the reading, before they book you. I have been lucky, to have been able to draw a crowd, in the few book readings I did. It can be fun, if you like speaking on your subject or reading your work.

Frankly not everyone is a ham like me. Some people just don’t like to do public speaking. But, remember that your audience is (by definition) already interested in you or your book or both, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Rarely will you face a hostile crowd, unless your book is highly controversial, and makes people mad. Most people who would not buy your book, simply don’t show up.

For non-fiction books, especially those written by experts, there is an entire set of opportunities for (mostly print journalism) publicity related to current events, and the need for expert quotes. Journalists, TV and radio producers, free lance writers, and networks of experts are all tied in with one another for mutual benefit. And at the center of these webs are the publicists; the tool is the query.

Say a journalist is given an assignment to write an article on green buildings. Deadline tomorrow at 7 AM. The journalist shoots out a query email to a network of publicists, industry groups, academics and other experts which says “I need an expert on green buildings, technical, not economic. Must have science credentials. Call before 4 PM today” My publicist gets this and forwards it to me, with the added note “Can you do this?” I answer “Yes.” She then answers the journalist with my name, credentials, the name of my book, etc. The journalist goes through the many positive answers she has received, and if I’m lucky, she chooses to  call me. She talks to me for at most 10 minutes, gets a quote or two, and again if I’m lucky, mentions my name and the book in her article. From her assignment to getting my quote, maybe two hours have passed.

Related to the print articles that mention your book are other possibilities for publicity. Appearance on Web casts (which are really much like TV), presentations at public forums, and appearances at conferences are all useful. For months I carried a stack of flyers in my briefcase, and distributed them liberally at conferences, seminars, and where ever I traveled.

As I mentioned, the publicist who works for your publisher, is pushing more than one book at a time. This means she has limited time for your book. Some people suggest that an author hire a free lance publicist. This works. A private publicist will be able to book you (depending of course on your book subject, and your reputation as a speaker) on many top radio shows, and also on national TV shows. But if you go this route, you need to examine your motivations. This kind of publicity will definitely raise your book sales. But often NOT enough to equal the cost of hiring the publicist (unless you get  lucky). Publicists charge according to how many radio shows they book for you. (TV is a much more complex rate calculation). 

Whether you hire your own publicist, or only use the publisher’s publicist, (or both) remember that you are on call 24/7. I missed one good opportunity because my cell phone had run out of battery charge. Again, this is a stressful and busy period, but it ends pretty soon. Even great, enormously successful books stop being publicized a few months (no more than 6 to 8 months) after publication. From then on the big driver of sales is that all important and totally unpredictable factor —  word of mouth. There isn’t much you can do about whether word of mouth spreads the story of your book and continues to boost sales after the publicity period ends. The key is how well your book is written. Well written books do better than poorly written ones, regardless of how intense the publicity might be at the beginning. So I end this discussion of the post writing phase of being a writer with a return to the basics. The real key to success as a writer is great writing. Big surprise, eh?

Also by Dr. Seymour Garte:
Where We Stand on Selling Non-Fiction vs. Fiction
Selling Your Book to Readers — Part I

Selling Your Book to Readers — Part I

Today I am honored to have as a guest blogger Seymour Garte, PhD.  Dr. Garte is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences of the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh PA.  He is also the author of  Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of the Planet. Dr. Garte writes:

You’re still jumping up and down, the phone doesn’t stop ringing. Your agent has sold your book! After all the work writing, editing, rewriting, editing again, entering contests, sending queries, finally landing an agent, suffering through rejections, and being almost sold, the time has come. Your book is going to be published. You made it!!!

Well, actually, not really. Of course being published is wonderful. Only a small fraction of people who write get published. But that is a small fraction of a very, very large number. At any given time there are about 5 million books in press. So a lot of books are getting published. And now that you have joined the ranks of the elite, you are about to come face to face with an issue you might not have thought about much before. How to get your book sold. Not to an agent, not to a publisher, but to readers. Lots of readers. Readers who will buy your book.

Some people don’t care a lot about selling their book. The joy of seeing their baby on the store shelves is enough. But most writers like the idea of other people, strangers even, reading their words. And the phrases “best seller” “New York Times” “Oprah” etc. have a magical ring for most writers. Fame, glory and wealth are really bad reasons to want to be a writer, but . . . hey, if it happens, groovy.

So how do we sell our books to the public? There are two major players in getting a book sold, the publisher and the author. The author’s role is always crucial. Even well known, famous, best selling authors must spend lots of time and energy selling their books. And if you are not famous, and this is a first book, you will find yourself wishing for the easy relaxed days, when all you were thinking about was writing, editing, querying, and submitting.

The first thing to understand is that all attempts to sell a book come under one of two headings — marketing and publicity. Marketing is defined as anything that costs money, like advertising. Most publishers spend very little if any money on marketing new, first author books, so don’t count on a full page ad in the New York Times for your first book. The extent of the publisher’s investment in paid advertising will depend on how successful the publisher thinks the book will be. Since selling a book is expensive, publishers will only invest an amount of money they think they will get back. Of course this is often a self fulfilling prophesy, since the more publishers spend, the more books will be sold, but that does not always follow.

Publicity refers to free advertising, and this is where you will be spending all of your efforts. Publicity includes book reviews, interviews, book signings and readings, blogging, other online discussion of the book, web sites, and if you are lucky, news items or talk shows.

You will not be doing this alone. Publishers hire publicists, generally young, highly overworked people, who will be in charge of all the possible ways to get your book noticed. The first job of the publicist, which starts well before publication is getting the book reviewed. Many writers don’t realize that the vast majority of books are not reviewed. Getting anyone to agree to review a book is a major coup. Then if the review is good, that’s just gravy.

This timing of the review process is very important. No one will review a book published longer than 3 to 6 months ago. And it takes time for reviewers to read the book. This means that review copies need to be sent out to potential reviewers months before the publication date, so that the review can be out around the time of publication. Sometimes the publicist will send out galleys instead of a review copy, if the book has not actually been printed yet.

The period of two months before to three months after publication will be a whirlwind for you as an author. You will experience considerable pressure to complete galley proofing, and getting endorsement blurbs in, so that the book is ready for the press, and so that copies can be sent to reviewers. Delays in the printing and reviewing schedule are bad, because the publisher has already promised to ship printed books to Amazon, and the major bookstores, who could already have gotten advanced orders, and a delay means that they have to tell their customers to wait, which they hate to do. And publishers hate to get booksellers upset at them. All of which means your editor, your publicist and the marketing and sales departments will be calling and emailing you until you get it done. And I mean constantly.

So clear your schedule starting two months before publication. And while you’re at it, keep it clear for the 3 to 6 months also, because as your release date approaches, you are about to really get to work.  You will get to know your publicist very well during this period. I had on average about 15 emails a day from my publicist at the peak, and was on the phone with her at least twice a day. I could not imagine her life, since she was actually working on 10 books simultaneously.

So what does the publicist do, and what do you need to do to get your book sold? Selling Your Book to Readers — Part II discusses this for a non-fiction book based on my own experience, and on talking to publicists and others in the bizz.

Also by Dr. Seymour Garte:
Where We Stand on Selling Non-Fiction vs. Fiction
Selling Your Book to Readers — Part II