When is the Best Time to Start Promoting Your Book?

In an online discussion about writing, one participant asked when was the best time to start promoting. As I was responding, it suddenly dawned on me I had a blog post!

So, when is the best time to start publicizing your book? At least year before you even sign a contract. Better yet, two years or even three. All the research says if you wait until you’re published, it’s too late since it takes three years for a book to take hold. (The traditional book publishers cheat new authors when they give them a mere six weeks to make or break.) Book promotion isn’t like selling gardening hoses, where you simply have a product to sell. In book promotion, the product is you, not your book. And it’s about name recognition. So start a blog — talk about your writing, your hopes, your successes and failures. Post scenes for critique. Get readers involved in the process, so that when you do sign a contract, they feel as if they have a stake in your book and, as writes, we know that to hook a reader, they must have something at stake.

One reason why so many fail at blogging is that most bloggers do not get the feedback that one gets on places like Gather who award points for participation, because blog readers have no reason to comment. But the stats can show you if people are looking.

Another reason why blogs fail is that the bloggers don’t give them a chance. It takes a year, maybe two or even three to build up a base of readers and a library of articles. People read about the blogs that get millions of readers and expect the same, but those blogs are a miniscule minority.

Facebook is another place where you can start your pre-publicity publicity by gaining “friends.” It takes a long time to build up a name there, but it’s mostly about connecting with anyone you can, posting notes (articles), updating your status frequently, setting up an rss feed so your blog is automatically posted, participating occasionally in a group discussion.

Also, you can join one of the library cataloguing places like librarything or goodreads. Catalog your books, talk about reading, connect with others who share your likes and dislikes. 

There are many things a writer can do to publicize long before a book is even finished, and if done right, no one will know you are promoting. Which is the point of guerilla marketing. Sneak in under their guard.

So, one to three years before a contract (or an agent) is even a gleam in your eye is the best time to start promoting. What’s the second best time? Today.

Book Publicity for Authors – Getting the most from your publicity campaign

The following article is reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing Company.

Publicity is that elusive thing that can make or break your book – in all sorts of ways! Learning to promote you and your book is something that can take a bit of “re-training” for most new authors (and many old-timers too). Publicity is really all about selling your idea (and you), but all too often the word “selling” brings up images of polyester clad used-car salesmen, telemarketers, and strong-arm sales strategies that do nothing but alienate your intended customer.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

True “salesmanship” is all about creating a deep connection with your intended reader or reviewer by providing unique, useful and rewarding information about your book. It’s all about creating a relationship that you will both benefit from and to which you can return time and again. It’s about creating the awareness that you are an EXPERT about the topic of your book.

Good publicity is also regular and consistent publicity – there really is no such thing as an overnight success. Remember that you never know who is reading or listening — it just might have been someone who could lead you to bigger and better things.

Here’s some ways to create a great relationship with the editors and reporters that can provide your book the long term exposure it needs to succeed:

1) It’s ALL about your intended audience – and very little about you. You might be brilliant, but the editor only cares about their audience. As a matter of fact, more often than not if you come across as thinking you are too wonderful, you’ll most likely turn out to be a turn off to the editor or reporter. This is where “blanket” press releases that go to thousands of outlets fail – they typically focus on you the author, and unless you are already a household name, guess what? No one cares. You MUST tailor your release to the intended audience – and it must be unique. Focus on the benefits you will provide their audience. Think about the publication or program you are trying to approach – what do they provide to their audience and does your book contribute to their goals? Don’t under any circumstances make your pitch sound like an ad for your book – if you have a good fit, and have good information inside your book, then it will generate interest in the book. The goal here is to make the editors, reporters, and audience understand that you are an expert on your topic, and that your book contains lots of good information – by PRESENTING some of the information… not by TELLING them you are an expert.

2) Target your pitch. Be confident knowing that reporters and editors have lots of need for information. But also understand the one of the quickest ways to get rejected is to pitch the wrong person – you’ll waste both of your time (and probably annoy the editor or reporter) – do you homework and find out who is the correct contact for your book. Once you’ve found the right person – ask them what they want. Only pitch your idea if it’s a fit. Be sure to respect his or her time – everyone in the media industry works on unbelievably tight deadlines. Ask if they are under a deadline and if so, could you call back at a better time. Be short, sweet, and to the point – which means get to the point quickly. The audience will eventually want more detail than the reporter or editor – but for your reviewer, be able to sum up your book in 30 seconds or less. “Talk less, listen more” – let the editor or reporter drive the conversation after you have them interested. They will have specific needs and questions – so stop talking and answer them explicitly.

3) Approach ALL types and sizes of publications and media. Don’t be afraid to contact the “big guys” and don’t neglect the smaller ones. Any one in the media has to aggressively pursue getting new and fresh content for their shows, magazines, and newspapers. This is especially true of anyone who needs to fill space on a daily basis. They are almost always on the search for people who can present information on exciting and interesting topics and trends. The biggest outlets are always on the search for an unknown that they can highlight. The smaller journals and outlets often have a very focused and influential audience – and you never know who might be reading them or listening to their show . The smaller publications can also be “gateways” into the larger ones . Almost every single size of publication has value in your publicity campaign. Your chances of getting into smaller publications is probably higher than the larger ones, so set your time and effort accordingly.

4) Treat your contacts with unfailing respect and politeness. Yes, you are very busy – you might even be far busier than the publicist or producer that you are trying to approach. But you need them to help you out – and being constantly aware that they are very busy themselves will keep you focused on getting your materials to them in a timely manner. Never ever be late in submitting materials for a review or interview.

5) Understand that publicity isn’t a “one shot success” effort. It is all about sustained and consistent awareness of your product. Marketing research indicates that a consumer will need to see your name about 7 times before they will remember it. Try to keep your interviews and reviews spaced out a little bit – frequency and consistency are critical. Don’t ever let up on your publicity campaigns – even the most successful product lines in the world (think Nike and McDonalds) continue to consistently spend millions on awareness campaigns for their products. Very rarely is anyone an “overnight success” – even the best-selling authors spent years building their reputations.

Follow these 5 steps while conducting your publicity campaigns, and your level of success will be far greater than those who have either ignored or never learned these basic steps.

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

Ray