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How to Publicize your Book: Getting Started

Many would-be nonfiction authors make the mistake of not beginning to think about publicity for their book until after they have written it. In fact, they don’t even need to write the book until after it has been purchased by a publishing house, but they do need to begin working on publicity prior to ever submitting a proposal to an acquisitions editor. The proposal itself includes a section that details how the author plans on publicizing the book once published; these days, publishing houses do little to help an author in this vein. The publicity and promotion section, along with the author’s platform section, represents a vital part of the book proposal.

If nonfiction authors plan on self-publishing their books, then they also must have a strong, well-thought out publicity and promotion plan long before the manuscript is completed or printed.

One of the books I purchased and read when I first began work on my books Jacqueline Deval’s Publicize Your Book, An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention it Deserves. When I contacted her about participating in this year’s WNFiN blog, she offered me information on how to get started publicizing a book.

There are three core areas of book marketing, according to Deval: advertising (paid ads), promotions (discounts, displays and co-op funds offered by publishers to booksellers) and publicity (getting your book mentioned in the media). The reason authors (and publishers) focus so much attention on  publicity is simple: it’s free and it works. As Deval writes, “Publicity—getting your book mentioned in any form of media—earns you the legitimacy of a third-party editorial endorsement, can reach large audiences, and requires relatively little spending. Publicity is where your greatest opportunity lies to contribute to the shape and scope of your campaign. The right media coverage for your book can stimulate measurable sales results that turn your book into a success.”

However, as with all business aspects of writing, we writers have to be coaxed into thinking of ourselves as anything other than writers. “We aren’t publicists,” we say. “We are writers.” But we can be publicists—and we must. “Learning to think like a marketer is a commonsense process that takes place over time,” explains Deval. “It is accomplished largely by paying attention to the media and to the marketplace and thinking about how your book fits in.”

And here’s how she suggest we writers begin:

How to Publicize your Book: Getting Started
by Jacqueline Deval
(From Publicize Your Book)

Look at what other writers have done successfully.

Before you set up a web site or blog, look at other authors’ sites to see what works. Start doing this a year before your book is out.

A site to look at: Jeff Carlson—jverse.com—to see how a site can provide one-stop shopping for readers and the press with press kits, photos, appearance schedules, contests.

Find out what your publisher is planning to do to launch your book.

Talk to your editor about what the house is planning for publicity 6-7 months before your book will be published. Then you can plan whether to hire a freelance publicist or supplement with your own efforts. Many books get a simple press release and review copy mailing. There’s much more to be done, but you may have to initiate it. Start by reading everything you can about book publicity. What to read? Here are four great resources:

  1. PublicityHound.com, a publicity and marketing site run by a former journalist, offers many great ideas for publicity as well as plenty of advice about how to approach reporters—useful in the event you ever set up your own interviews.
  2. Buzz Balls & Hype (mjroseblog.typepad.com/buzz_balls_hype)  Lots of smart publicity advice here from novelist MJ Rose.
  3. Galleycat.com This site covers the business of publishing. Check out the frequent coverage of effective author promotions and videos.
  4. Publishers Weekly (publishersweekly.com)  Learn about the publishing industry here. Search the word “promote,” and you’ll come up with tons of information about what authors and publishers are doing to market their books.

Build your tribe.

What is a tribe? The people who know and like you or take an interest in your work. Build a  mailing list of everyone you know, professionally and personally. You’ll market to this list through emails, postcards, press releases, and invitations to readings.  Then you’ll build on that list, particularly as you being to network through online marketing.

About the Author

Jacqueline Deval is vice president, publisher of Hearst Books, and publishes lifestyle books in association with Hearst Magazines including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and O, The Oprah Magazine.  She is the author of two books: a novel called Reckless Appetites (Ecco Press, 1993) and Publicize Your Book: An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Publicity It Deserves (Perigee, 2003 and 2008, www.publicizeyourbook.com).  She has held associate publisher, marketing and publicity director positions at William Morrow, Villard Books/Random House, and Doubleday.


This blog post is part of the Write Nonfiction in November blog series and challenge. Help writers find the wonderful information and resources at Write Nonfiction in November all year:
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4 Comment count
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Marketing your own book

Thank you for such an informative blog. I'm probably like most new authors, sort of stunned that we have to market our own books, stumbling around trying to get the knack. What were we thinking? My third and fourth book is getting ready to be released. I have a fairly active website (www.thelamplighters.org) and am on the Internet several hours every day trying to find out ways to get the word out. If it weren't for the Internet where would we be? But I'm always looking for more ways to publicize. I have to do most of it from home although I'm starting to branch out a little.

Margie McKinnon

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Marketing your books


Thanks for your comment! Yes, the publishing world has changed a lot...and writers have to wear many hats these days, much to our dismay. I'm glad my blog can be of help. The next few blog posts should give you some more tools to use when marketing your books. Also, look through last year's archives.

Good luck to you! (Oh...and please cast a vote for WNFiN as a Writer's Market Best Blog. I'd so appreciate it! That way more writers will be able to access all this info.)



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How do I vote?

How do I vote?

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How to vote WNFiN a Writer's Digest Best Website for Writers

At the bottom of each blog post in Redroom there is a link. Click on it, and it takes you to a page with all the info! :~)

You can also go here: http://writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com/vote-wnfin-one-of-writer%...

If none of these links work, go to www.writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com and look on the right side of the blog under "Pages" and you'll see a place that says "Vote WNFIN One of Writer’s Digest’s Annual 101 Best Internet Sites for Writers." Click on that link and you'll find directions on how to vote.

Thanks so much!