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 necessary for all authors, whether your publisher is a traditional house or you're trying to self-publish. Authors who set up some personal market tactics to execute, whether standalone efforts or those in tandem with their publisher, sell more copies.

A strategic publicity and marketing campaign helps spread the word about your finished book. When you’re the publisher, it’s obviously critical to devise your own detailed plan for your book’s publicity and marketing.

But even when a traditional publisher is releasing your book, paying attention to publicity and marketing is critical. The book marketing department and the publicity department sometimes have dozens of other books to be concerned with, so your efforts as an author to create opportunities are important to the book’s success.

Pre-Publication Platform

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

For example, you should:

  • Establish an online presence. At minimum, produce a website and create an author Facebook page for your book. Establish Twitter and Instagram accounts to help get yourself out there.
  • Set yourself up on other social media sites that apply to your book, such as Goodreads.com, Pinterest if your book is visual, etc. 
  • Try to guest blog or be interviewed on websites and podcasts that align with your book's target audience.

Network

Publishers ask authors to utilize all their contacts with a tool called the author questionnaire, which helps gather 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 finding a college alumni magazine willing to make an announcement about your book’s publication.

The questionnaire 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 launch event.

Publicity Planning

Especially if you’re doing your own marketing and publicity, find 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 book publicists work on your book, they will most likely take 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.
  • Craft a great press release for your book using your strategy.
  • Create a list of media contacts and bloggers who might be interested.
  • Attend major book conferences and be on panels.

Promotional Materials

Online promotion is most important. Book trailers can be inexpensive to produce, practically free to distribute, and best of all, are easy to share. People who find your book trailer, or the book it describes, appealing, may spread the word with their own networks.

You never know who you might run into, so have information about your book handy – a business card with your website address and social media handles, a postcard to send to friends and media outlets – these can help your book get noticed.

Execute Your Plan

Self-published authors need to reach out to media and event venues to set up readings, book signings, or talks. You might also hire a freelance book PR pro to help you. Either way, it's good to start with at least some idea of the publicity avenues available to you as an author:

  • Email your press release to your media list; follow up within a week
  • Organize a book launch event
  • Reach out to book festival organizers
  • Alert your social media network, as well as your offline network
  • Set up readings and signings with local and regional bookstores

Making a solid pre-publication marketing and publicity plan and following it through might not be as glamorous as writing a book, but they are important steps toward sharing your book with the world.