Unless you’re a big press author with a six-figure advance, you are likely going to be responsible for at least some part of promoting your forthcoming book, and even then, most authors are expected to be proactive in reaching their readers and building their audience.
When I signed my contract for my memoir with University of Nebraska Press, my first reaction was joy. My second reaction was queasiness. I knew I had one shot to get this book in front of an audience, and it would be my job to market and publicize it.
At first, it was overwhelming and intimidating, but as I mapped out each step, I found it was absolutely doable, and surprisingly, really fun.
We’ve covered many of the tips and strategies I used to market Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir in previous articles, but here, I’ll be pulling them together to show you how to create a simple and successful marketing plan, all while building your platform and spreading the exciting news about your forthcoming book.
- Write a stellar pitch letter. Are you hoping to garner press in a variety of publications for your forthcoming book? Consider writing a pitch letter that grabs an editor’s attention and makes them want to find out more. Whether you’re asking for an interview, review, or trying to place an excerpt, you have one chance to make your book stand out.
- Use social media strategically. Unsure how to harness the power of social media to reach not only new readers, but editors and other influencers? Consider choosing a social media platform you enjoy to make a genuine connection that results in networking opportunities. This will help you feel productive instead of draining your time and energy.
- Be a good literary citizen. Would you like to connect with and support other writers who will champion your work when your book launches? Consider becoming a good literary citizen by promoting other people’s work when an opportunity arises. Ask yourself what you can do to support other writers as their books launch into the world. Chances are, when it’s your turn, they will return the favor.
- Write companion pieces. Are you interested in writing about your book for a variety of outlets, but not sure where to start? Consider writing companion pieces by finding different angles and breaking down the various themes and threads in your book. This will allow you to diversify your writing by focusing on op-eds, essays, and reported pieces. Think about not only readers already interested in your topic but unlikely audiences for your book as well.
- Prep for radio and podcast appearances. Thinking about promoting your book in front of a live audience but need some guidance on what to say and how to say it? Consider preparing for your guest appearance by having a list of talking points. Explore interesting and memorable takeaways you can come up with to leave your audience wanting more.
- Don’t go it alone. Want to join other writers on the same publishing path as you so you can share ideas? Consider collaborating with other authors ahead of your launch to help navigate the murky waters of getting your book out into the world. Ask yourself what other writers are writing about and think about how you can connect with them to make a splash.
- Grow your sales post launch. Are you interested in setting up successful book events and author appearances? Consider how you can stand out and draw a crowd, create buzz, and entice readers to pick up and purchase your book. Remember that you are not only selling your book, you’re selling your brand.
Unlike the writing process, marketing often takes a writer out of their comfort zone. Mastering the skills required to build your platform and get the word out about your book will help you grow your audience.
Each time someone says they’ve read an interview you’ve done, heard you on the radio, or attended one of your events, you can consider that a win! Remember, if you are successful at marketing your current book, you will be well on your way to writing your next one!