Start Marketing Your Book Early - 6 Steps for Publishing Success

Elizabeth Gilbert on stage with microphone
••• Elizabeth Gilbert utilized podcasts, an Instagram campaign and more to create sales momentum for Big Magic. Mat Hayward / Getty Images Entertainment

Market your book early and often.

Marketing your book in advance of its publication is helps establish or further build an audience that will come to the book during its launch, help create the all-important sales momentum. If you’re in the process of writing a book, you should already be thinking about book promotion - following are six steps to get you on the right marketing page. 

Note: The more you help promote your book, the more thrilled your publisher’s staff will be. But be sure to keep your editor, book marketing and publicity folks in the loop. This way, you can all make sure that everyone's efforts dovetail, rather than compete with each other.

Start laying the book marketing groundwork as soon as you have a book deal...

Or have the self-publishing gleam in your eye. 18 months or a year before publication is a good time to get your book promotion and publicity started, especially if you need to build an audience (see below). Here's what you can—and should—start putting into place at that time to ensure you’ll be well set-up when the book publishes.

1. Maximize your book's SEO from the get-go with metadata and keywords

For starters, get a handle on how your book is marketed via SEO - learn about book metadata and how to choose keywords. Really, it's not as complicated as it sounds and understanding those concepts will help you to use the right language, targeted at your potential audiences when you... 

2. Establish your online author / expert / writer presence

If you haven’t already, plant your authorial stake in the virtual ground with author content marketing.  an effective author website that showcases you as the subject matter expert or fiction writer that your are. When appropriate, it should also showcase your book.

If you’re not sure what your site should include, learn about the elements of effective author website. Having a blog on your website helps engage readers and keep them posted on your work. 

It’s important to get your website up before the book is available, as it takes some time for search engines to “find” you.


3. Tend to your “media platform”

Whether it’s a thriving small business or a hit television show or a lot of Twitter followers, your author platform is a valuable marketing commodity. In advance of your book’s publication, figure out how you will be able to utilize your platform/s to best market your book.

For example, if your platform is a blog, schedule your book’s publication announcement and plan promotions such as cover reveals, content teasers and book giveaways.

4. Line up your professional and personal networks

Begin to review your networks for fans—whether professional or personal—who might be willing to help spread the word about your book when it hits the marketplace. These could be everyone from friends who have media contacts to the editor of your alumni magazine to your favorite local bookstore owner to your friend who has 10,000 Instagram followers.

For help with figuring out who might be willing and/or able to help spread the word about your book, learn about the author questionnaire marketing tool that’s used in some form or another by most traditional publishers, and take the time to fill one out yourself.

5. Find partners or a sponsor, if applicable

If your book is a non-fiction that won’t suffer from a little commercial association, you might want to consider looking for a sponsor to help promote or help defray your marketing costs (traditional publishers love this!).

For example, if your book is about pet care and you have pet food company connections, you might ask them to sponsor a book tour to help defray the cost of author appearances or a satellite media tour. 

6. Establish and engage with your social media networks

Again, if you’re a topic specialist, make sure you’re blogging, Tweeting, Pinteresting and otherwise posting to your social media sites in a way that draws them in your potential audience so they’ll want the book when it’s published. For hints and best practices, read: