How to Create a Book Marketing and Publicity Campaign

Strategy Is Key

Book Store Display
••• Chris Payle / Getty Images

Creating a book marketing and publicity plan is a necessity for indie authors, and it's advisable for even most traditionally-published authors to set up some personal market tactics to execute in tandem with their publishers' efforts.

A strategic and well-thought-out publicity and marketing campaign will help spread the word about your finished book. When you’re publishing your own book, it’s critical to think about your book’s publicity and marketing.

But even when your book is being published by a traditional publisher, you need to pay attention to publicity and marketing. The book marketing department and the publicity department have tens of other books to be concerned with, so your efforts as an author to create opportunities are important to the book’s success. Here are the steps to getting the word out about your book:

Get Your Pre-Publication Self in Order

The book's launch is really important to give it sales momentum. To set up a proper launch, up to a year before the book’s publication, you should lay the groundwork for the book’s publication.

For example, you should:

  • Establish an online presence: Produce a website and/or create a Facebook page for your book. Establish a Twitter account to help get yourself out there as an author and/or a topic expert.
  • Set yourself up on other social media sites that apply to your book, such as, Pinterest if your book is visual, etc. 

Assess and Make Contact With Your "Offline" Networks

Near publication, you’re going to utilize all your contacts to help you promote the book.

Publishers ask authors to do this with a tool called the Author Questionnaire, which helps gather together all the resources an author brings to the marketing and publicity campaign. It could be as grand as having a media platform like a radio show, or as modest as having a college alumni magazine that’s willing to make an announcement about your book’s publication. The AQ will help you put on your thinking cap about your friends and family who might be useful—the friend of a friend who writes for the local newspaper, or your cousin who owns a café and might be willing to host a book party.

Strategize About Your Publicity “Hooks” and Create a Plan

Especially if you’re doing your own marketing and publicity, you need to have a solid “newsworthy” reason for the press to pay attention to you—believe it or not, the fact that you published a book doesn’t qualify as “news” to most media. Note that, if you have a book publicist working on your book, she or he will most likely be taking care of most of this—but it doesn’t hurt to be informed as to the process.

  • Use an existing event as a media “hook” for your book in order to get publicity.
  • Craft a great press release for your book using your strategy.
  • Create a list of the media contacts and bloggers who might be interested in your book’s publication.

Produce Promotional Materials

You never know who you might run into—be sure to have information about your book handy—a business card, a postcard to send to friends and media outlets - these will help your book to be remembered.

Online promotion can be effective, as well. Book trailers that are designed to live online can be inexpensive to produce, practically free to distribute and—best of all—they are easy to share. People who find your book trailer—or the book it describes—appealing, may very well spread the word with their own networks of people.

Execute Your Publicity Plan

If you’re a self-published author, you’ll need to reach out to media and event venues yourself to set up readings, book signings or talks (or use these tips to hire a freelance book PR pro to help you).

  • Contact your list of media and bloggers by emailing your press release; follow up within a week or so with another email.
  • Organize a book launch party.
  • Reach out to book festival programmers.
  • Reach out to media.
  • Alert your social media network, as well as the “offline” network contacts you've earmarked with your author questionnaire (use your email list and/or those postcards!).
  • Set up signings with your favorite local bookstore.

With all that done, you should be well on your way to sharing your book with the world!