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You’ve Got the Book: Now How Do You Promote It?

5 Simple Strategies for Getting Free Publicity

By Elizabeth Yarnell

Write a good book. Get it published. Watch it hit the best sellers list. Write another book and do it again. Isn’t this the job description of an author?

That’s what I had always thought happened to people who wrote books. And when I say “books,” I really thought “novels.” At this point, the major hurdle to me becoming an author was that I found writing fiction more excruciating than giving birth. Luckily, one day I woke up and realized that people wrote non-fiction books, too. My dream of becoming an author was renewed! I wrote a book and tried to publish it. Then I learned that people don’t often buy books they’ve never heard of, by authors they’ve never heard of.

Maybe becoming a best selling author was going to be a little harder than I had thought.

In this information-driven world where some 200,000 books were published last year alone, books don’t sell themselves just by sitting on a shelf in a bookstore. Since most books don’t earn back the initial advance, much less earn royalties beyond that, major publishers are often reluctant to allocate a real budget to promote books they don’t see as potential best sellers. As a result, we authors increasingly shoulder more of the burden of making sure our book sells.

Here’s where we run into a very real disconnect: Authors know how to write, not necessarily how to sell, promote, or publicize. I’d bet more than 75% of authors would rather lose a hard drive than face the daunting task of promoting a book.

It’s a Catch 22: you’d rather write than promote, but if you don’t promote, you might not get paid to write. And paying a PR firm to do it for you can run you thousands of dollars each month.

The basics to promoting a book may seem like no-brainers, but they’re worth repeating as a reminder, if nothing else, as to the foundations for getting the kind of publicity that sells books for you. Here are five simple strategies for positioning yourself to welcome media exposure.

  1. Purchase the right domain names. Do you own the URL for How about Make it easy for fans, potential customers, and the media to find you. Don’t forget to snap up common misspellings, tag lines, nicknames, and any other URL that could pertain to you or your book. Domains are cheap, and if you don’t own them, you won’t be able to control who does and what they put up there.

  2. Become an expert. Realize that, outside of book reviewers, the media is less likely to run a gushing story about your book and more likely to want to feature a story where you are sharing some expertise or information valuable to their audience. Build a platform that makes you the expert on your topic.
  3. Create an online media kit. Offer enough information about yourself that journalists don’t even have to speak with you to write their article. A reporter on deadline is likely to grab your promotional copy almost verbatim. Talk about getting great publicity!

  4. Nurture relationships with the media. Help out the press by supplying them with solid, targeted pitches customized for their audience. Make your information irresistible and you’ll get the kind of free exposure that sells books.

  5. Blog. In this day and age, there is almost no better way to build a following than to blog about interesting stuff. A blog should be the centerpiece of an online presence; you might say that blogs are on their way to superceding the web site in terms of online publicity. If you don’t blog yet, start looking for blogs to follow. Then read them and learn. Anyone can blog, and every author should.

Getting free publicity can make book sales skyrocket. Don’t let publicity opportunities pass you by!


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