Timing for Authors and Their Books is Everything

There is an old saying that “timing is everything,” and in the world of publicity that couldn’t be more true. Timing is everything, yet what I find more and more is that many people assume they know the best timing for generating publicity. Sadly, this is often not the case and many fabulous media opportunities are missed.

Here are some examples:

In mid November an author thinks it’s time to get coverage for the holiday season.

Two weeks before an author’s publication date they decide it’s time to get the launch together.

New Year’s Day is next week. Now is the time to get some publicity for my book.

These are real examples. In each case, I’ve had authors come to me for help, and in each case I’ve had to break the bad news that we’ve missed the window of opportunity. I don’t like doing that.

I blame our culture for this. In a world of texting and instant messaging, it is easy to fall into the idea that anything can be done quickly. It simply isn’t so, particularly when pitching story and segment ideas. Today seems like a good day to share some tips on timing.

Let’s look at the three examples above:

“It’s mid November. Now is the time to get some publicity and take advantage of sales during the holiday season.”

Actually, the phrase “Christmas in July” is perfect for a publicist, or for anyone doing their own book publicity. It takes time to build a list, write the materials, pitch the media, and follow up if necessary. Then if they say yes, you have to schedule the interview or do whatever is required. Each media outlet has its own editorial calendar, so they may not be able to cover you within the window you were hoping for. You can’t control that, but when you approach them early, you stand a chance. Early is always better than too late.

One caveat: You can pitch your own email list and networks shortly before the holiday. When you go direct to the consumer – or your own audience – not as much lead time is necessary. The advice in this article is for Earned Media. That’s the media you have to jump through some hoops to land.

“My publication date is in two weeks. Time to work on the publicity for my book.”

It takes planning to roll out and launch a book. In fact, the perfect time to make your plans is while you’re still writing your book. If you’re going to have galleys or ARCs, you will need a minimum of 4 months so you can give them time to receive the book and read it. (Some will.) If you want magazines, many have a 6-month lead time.

“New Year’s Day is next week. Now is the time to get some publicity for my book.”

As above, so below. Start your planning for the “New Year, New You” during the fall. That’s when long-lead media is thinking about the start of a New Year. You should be too.

Depending on the type of coverage you’re going for, the lead time will vary. If you’re thinking of local television, which can be great as you’ll get footage you can publish on your website that can be used to secure additional media, 4-6 weeks is usually enough time. Of course, you have to have a topic and pitch it in a way that the producer thinks it will be a big hit for them.

If you’re a planner, this will be easy for you. If you’re not much of a planner, then I suggest the following:

Create a calendar that takes you one-year out, and begin one year from today. Determine where you want to be at that time in terms of coverage for your book, and then reverse-engineer your way back to today.

Let’s say you want CBS Mornings or The Wall Street Journal. Put it on your Google calendar, or whatever your calendar preference is. Some use big wall calendars and circle important dates. (Low tech is sometimes better, so use what works for you.) Mark the date one year from today. You want to be there. What do you have to do the month before? And the month before that, all the way back to, “What do I need to do today?”

Maybe what you need to do today is find out more about what a publicist does. Maybe you can research and find out what other authors have done to create that kind of success. Research is easy and it is something you can be doing at this very moment.

Another option is to take an online class if that will help you. What should you be doing right now?

Another is to find your niche mates, meaning those who write about the same topic you do. What are they doing? Where have they appeared? The good news is that if they’ve appeared in various media outlets, then you are also a candidate for those opportunities.

Timing really is everything. The second part is knowing when to jump on opportunities as they present themselves.

Good luck!

To your success!


P.S. Speaking of timing, the reason the Nonfiction Author Association and I are offering the Publicity Master Course in August, is so that those participating will be ready to go out in the fall. Planning. It is the way to success. There is still time to join us before we close the doors on this opportunity. Check it out here.

P.P.S. Something most of us don’t have to worry about. Haha.



If you’d like to receive juicy publicity secrets directly on a regular basis, join the Savvy Sunday Community at the bottom of this page.


Scroll to Top