A lot of people think the time to promote their books begins on their publication date (which is different from when the book arrives from the printer — I may have to do a whole post on this sometime in the near future.)
The truth is, the best time to begin your book’s promotion is at the moment you have the brilliant idea to write it! Almost no one ever does that unless they’re experienced and know how it can really help when it comes time to market and publicize the book. The next best time to begin is about three months before your pub date.
At that time is when you would write the press release and send out any books for review, particularly to the industry trade publications and long-lead media opportunities. If you’re planning to bypass that part of the process, then you definitely want to set up a campaign for endorsements and testimonials prior to your book’s release.
As for online promotion, you have to find the balance between generating excitement and buzz, and talking about it so far in advance that readers simply lose interest. There is an art to the appropriate timing of these elements, and paying attention to your network’s feedback is a big part of it.
When you’re ready to start that early buzz, here are some ideas for you to consider as you put your plan together.
Post on your website
You have a website, right? I’ve written about this before, and one day I’ll no longer have to say this, but for now it bears repeating that you must have a website. Make sure your book’s cover is the focal point, and be sure to list your publication date. If it’s available for presale, be sure and say that and have a link to make it easy for people to take action.
Your website can be as simple as a one-page site if that’s all you want, but you must have something. You can create a WordPress site and blog about your book too, which brings up point #2 . . .
Blog about your book
Have a blog on your website where you can write about your book. There are all kinds of different ways you can do this. One of my favorites is to simply describe what it’s like to be an author. What is it like to face a blank page every day? Maybe you never experience writer’s block. Write about that. Lots of people want to know the secret of getting past resistance.
Write about any research you’ve done and surprises you’ve uncovered along the way. Talk about any studies you’ve conducted. Share what inspires you, or the opposite of that. You could talk about places where you’re stuck. There may be some people in your network who can actually help you out, so be creative and experiment. No one else knows exactly what you should do more than you do, and when you’re not sure, just try things and see what happens.
The main point here is that there are compelling ways to talk about your book without actually selling your book, and we’ve all seen people who are clueless about the difference.
Create a newsletter
You don’t have to call it a newsletter, I call mine Savvy Sunday News, but you want to create a way to stay in touch with those who have opted in and given you permission to tell them what you’re up to. That is your email list. If you haven’t created one yet, then now is the time.
First, you need an opt-in on your website. Create something that your readers would LOVE to have. A few of mine have been the How Media Savvy Are You Assessment, the Publicity Cheat Sheet, and The Top 50 Places Where Your Book Must Appear. When people see these, they’re often very motivated to receive what I am giving away, and they’re happy to share their email address in order to get that juicy information. You want to create something compelling like that too. That is your opt-in.
You’ll want to send out a newsletter (or whatever you call it) announcing the date your book will be available for purchase, and any other fun tidbits you may have for people. You might even consider creating a Q&A for yourself as a creative way to share more information about you and your book.
You’ll want to talk about your book on social media. There are many “social media experts” who say you should have accounts on all the platforms and “be everywhere,” but I don’t agree with that. I think you should pick one or two places and go deep.
Where do your readers hang out? Where are you most likely to find them? That is where you should be. But it’s even more than that. Where do YOU like to hang out? You’ll be talking about your book and your work for a long time, so it’s important to not only find your readers, but it’s important that you’re in an environment that you love. If you can satisfy both of these things in one or two places, you’re golden.
Leverage and repurpose
Use the ideas you’ve created for your blog, and convert those into social media posts. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you do something. You want to work smarter, not harder.
It’s also a way to give potential readers an insider look into who you are as a person. That personal connection will sell more books than any advertising ever will!
Promote to your networks
Create a launch team of raving fans to help you promote your book. Tell them your ideas and ask them for theirs. Create a group just for the team to share ideas and successes. You will become very close with this group, and they will share about you and your book everywhere. Make it easy for them too, by creating social posts and other things that they can easily share with their networks.
Create a book trailer and video
Video is a fantastic way to talk about your upcoming book, share your story, and come across as the wonderful person you are. (For tips on how to come across great on camera, see the last several posts on my blog here.
Video is also a great way to break up the monotony and predictability of posting written content to promote your book. We can actually train people to ignore us if we don’t do these things well and shake things up now and then. Surprise people and try something different. They’ll love you for it, and it will re-engage them in a valuable way.
Also, video can be a great way to solidify you as a guest on other shows. As you may know, one of my side hustles is as the executive producer of a popular podcast, and I am always asking for good video from the potential guest or his or her publicist.
I no longer have to take a gamble on whether someone will be a great guest or not because I can see and hear how they will do on my show. This is true for all media now, so remember this and consider media training if you haven’t much experience delivering compelling key messages.
Remember, you can repurpose your blog content into short videos, so save yourself from feeling like there is too much to do. That does not have to be the case.
Create Promotions for ARCs or Galleys
ARCs is just a fancy way of saying advance reader copies. Galleys are too. When figuring out how to promote your book before it’s published you always want to use opportunities to get books into the hands of others early. Advance copies also help generate reviews on Amazon sooner; ideally posting the day or week of your publication date.
I’m very fond of creating Amazon reviewer campaigns, which means you get those in your network to agree to do a review for you in a way that they actually want to keep that commitment. You may not realize it now, but lots of people will tell you, “Of course I’ll do a review.” But when you’re asking for the third time it can get awkward. If you want to design a campaign, contact me directly.
There are tons of things you can do to generate buzz and interest in your upcoming book. These are just a few of them. If you are an experienced author and you have some ways that really worked for you, let me know and I’ll create a part 2! See you next week!
To your success!
P.S. Memorial Day is a day for honoring the men and women who died protecting our freedoms while serving in the U.S. military. God bless them. And to you and yours, be well and stay safe!