Congratulations, you're publishing a book. It's an incredibly hard thing to do, and an amazing accomplishment. I'm sure you've spent months and months toiling over your ideas, looking at galleys and wanting to toss them out the window. Whether you're going back-and-forth with an editor in a large publishing house, or publishing on your own, a book is a really scary prospect. I've been circling around the book industry for five years, and I've helped with the book press of numerous authors. It's one of the top things that people come to me for - because a book is a huge undertaking and one that takes a lot to promote it loud and far online and offline.
I can't give away the whole secret sauce, because that's part of my business, but what I can say is there are several basic things you need to know when it comes to promotion for your book. Use this as a starting point to figure out how you want to help make your book the best it can be, and make the most amount of noise possible.
You can never start too early.
You can never start too early and thinking about how and when and where you going to promote your book. It's okay if you're not pouring over detailed press and outreach plans a year out. If push comes to shove, the shortest promotion period I recommend is 90 days. Authors are putting out great teasers like book trailers now nearly nine months in advance. But that's not to say you can't build a storm of visibility in three months, given that you already know your audiences, what outlets and influencers you might want to target, and you're getting rolling on a digital strategy. Press is all about a snowball effect, where visibility begets more visibility. Which means you should start throwing snow as soon as you can.
You should be hurling your book in the conversation at every turn.
I've seen authors and soon-to-be authors make this mistake pretty frequently - there are tons of opportunities around you not only to promote yourself, but also to promote your book. You're in a long-term committed relationship with this project, and everyone should know that. Even though you might be sick of hearing about it (because you've probably been working on it for at least a year), it's only you that hears about it so frequently and not everyone around you. This means putting out call-outs periodically to friends to pre-order your book on Amazon or to download it, as well as putting it in your email signature, in any of your bios, and in all of your social media platforms. Another place your book needs to be - conversations, professional or otherwise. It's easy to think that everyone knows what's going on with you if you've put out a few tweets, but err on the side of telling people again.
Have an open and honest conversation with your publishing house about expectations when it comes to press.
If you're self-publishing, you know you have to do all the promotion. But one place I see authors miss out is having an open and honest conversation with their publishing house about press expectations. (Self-published books are about a groundswell, and a different article altogether). Speak to your publishing house and editor and ask him or her what the plan is for promotion, if there is one at all. You can and should ask important questions like: When do you plan to start press? What materials do your PR people need to help promote me? (This could mean bios, or excerpts, or other new smaller essays on topic.) What types of outlets are you going after? This way, if you decide to hire outside help, you won't be double pitching an outlet. This has happened to me before because an author didn't ask his publishing house if they were pitching a particular outlet I was, and it looked really strange and unprofessional.
There is often a small budget for promotion.
I have worked alongside countless authors' publishing houses in an effort to boost press for an upcoming book. The publishing industry is a trying one, as people move online. This is nothing new, but one of the first things that I always hear is how little budget is dedicated to promoting a book and the author is surprised. Well, it's one of the first places that funding gets removed from, so assume you are doing a lot of the press yourself. Don't count on a publishing house to do the legwork of promoting your book (even if you're a big time celebrity) -- it's really up to you.
The savvy part of promotion is your job.
While publishing houses are fantastic for large press outlets and more traditional ones, say, morning television or large print publications, if you're looking to promote your book on Snapchat you have to do it on your own. Promotion tools like social media campaigns, web shorts, other video, newsletters, or a podcast are all up to you. All of these "nontraditional" ways of promoting yourself and your book are great supplements to the larger-scale general outreach that your publishing house will be doing. You need to do them in tandem.
Get ready to brag.
Yeah, I'm in the business of helping leadership and all levels of professional, especially women, brag about their professional accomplishments. But a book is downright SCARY. It is going to feel incredibly vulnerable. You've been working on a project nearly in secret for a long time, and now it has to hit the public. You might be tempted to shy away from press, or attention, and not want to try to draw attention to yourself. The truth is, your promotion of this book and yourself matters. Not only because it means you believe in yourself and your ideas, but also because the outcome of the press could lead to speaking engagements, bigger and better clients, and larger advances for future book deals.
Nobody else can push your own career along as much as you can. A book is a calling card, and it's something to be exceptionally proud of. By having a plan and thinking all these things through, you're actually setting yourself up success. Don't shy away from it. You've done the work, and now the recognition is the easy part.