Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prepping to Promote

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by Brooke of Bluestocking Guide. The interview/podcast was about editing, books and all kinds of stuff. You’d think after almost an hour and a half of talking with her (don’t worry, Brooke cut it to a half-hour podcast), I would have said everything.

But I got to thinking that I should have said something about the need for writers to start planning for book promotion. And that planning should start as soon as they get the idea for a story or manuscript.

Gather advice or ideas on marketing. Collect email and snail mail addresses and put into a database – a database of possible readers, bookstores, libraries, organizations you might speak to, book festivals, book review blogs. And make sure the database is sortable by zip code. That makes it easier to send out postcards when you have a booksigning, speaking engagement, workshop or event.

Build a website. Start blogging. Visit other blogs and make note of the ones that would be a good fit for you to add to your virtual book tour list. Why do you need that list? Because physical book tours are very expensive and more and more authors are opting for virtual tours. But you have to hit the blogs that will get you, not just the most exposure, but exposure to people who are likely to be your readers. It doesn't help you a whole lot if a blog has a lot of readers, but they're all organic farmers and your book is a nonfiction on the psychology of deep depression. Sure, you can hire someone to plan your book tour, but they’re not going to do the kind of research that you can do on your own as you write. You can visit blogs and get a feel for the blogger, the activity and the kind of readers who stop by. You can come up with all the niches that your book reaches. You can make comments and get to know the host – which makes it easier to ask to stop by on your tour.

Comment on blogs so you get to “know” the blog hose and so you get your name out there. Join Twitter and other social network sites. There are a ton of them, so pick and choose which ones you can handle, contribute to, and keep up with.

You may say, I don’t have time for all that – I’m writing a book. Well, I’ve got bad news for you. You’ve got more time now than you’re going to have once it comes out and you’re working on the next one as well as doing promotion.

So, from the very inkling of your plot idea, start prepping for promotion.


  1. Excellent advice. I still haven't created a list of libraries, but it's on my list of things to do. It's also important to think about groups that might be interested in some aspect of your novel and start to cultivate them as well.

    And it's interesting that you mentioned picking/choosing networking sites that you can keep up with. I blogged about this today (Quality Versus Quantity).

  2. There are so many things to promotion to can be overwhelming, but there is also such a wealth of good advice! I always forget about the libaries...

  3. I don't like promo and I think there are a lot of authors out there like me. I think it is important to break it into doable steps, as you did here, so that it seems manageable. Great post!

  4. Excellent post and sound advice. My past two books I've started the pre-launch promo at the point of acceptance by a pub house to pub. Starting with the IDEA of the new book is totally awesome.

    Always enjoy my visits here, Helen, and I usually pick up something useful.


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