I have several friends and colleagues who have published books in 2020. Because of the global pandemic we are all dealing with—now on its second wave tour—that is getting more publicity than the books out there, it’s a challenge to get people to notice your book and buy it.
My co-authored beauty/health book Beautiful Skin was published nearly two decades ago, so, with books now on my mind, I have been collecting this advice from other writers in hopes I can use it for my memoir and novel in progress.
Build Your Platform: Whatever you have been doing up till now, do more of. That includes sharing content in the genre of your book, social media posts, reaching out to media and press through LinkedIn and other ways. Another tip: see what upcoming conferences are coming up that you can speak at, even if they are virtual.
Hire Additional PR Help: If you can afford it, try to hire some pr muscle to add to your publisher’s overtaxed publicity department’s efforts. You can check the Public Relations Society of America, ask through the American Society of Journalists and Authors, or the Author’s Guild, or just through word of mouth. Look for glowing reports from authors who have worked with them and make sure they have contacts in the area or genre you write about in your book. You might also want to hire someone to do social media for you who is an expert in that realm.
MORE FOR YOU
Agent Assists: Try to build a pre-publication publicity/marketing plan at least six to nine months prior to your book getting published with your agent and publisher. Include a plan for national chain bookstores and indie bookstores. See if you can be involved in creating publicity materials as they are being developed.
Cultivate a Community: Find out who else is writing similar content, whether memoir or romance or parenting or children’s books, and connect with those people through associations, organizations, or by following them on social media and sharing their content. You can also submit to anthologies. Often the writers included in the anthology will boost each other’s work.
Be Inviting on Instagram: Share weekly (or even daily) memes or tips from your forthcoming book. If you are verified, like I am, link away on your Instagram stories to keep building your following .
Worth a Website: Try to have a website, or at the very least an author’s page on Amazon. If you have a website, make sure it is easy for people to find and buy the book, so include all those links. Also, set up a Contact Me page with all your information readily available, and a speaking/events page. When you post, share information, news, tips, tricks, or tidbits connected to your book. Also, have them sign up for a newsletter you will send out, even if it’s retreads of your posts.
PDF’s Rule: Make sure you ask your publisher to send you a pdf of the book and make sure it is watermarked (to protect your material from being scrubbed or pirated). This way you can assist the publicity department in sending out to your direct contacts for book reviews or for editors or the media. You can also use Netgalley.com to share your book with key people in the media.
Blog Book Tours: A lot of influencers and bloggers do blog book tours (where they take turns promoting new books through interviews, guest posts and social media shares). If you can find out about them and add your book into the mix, that will give you a leg up and help build your community of readers. You can ask them to write reviews of your book on Amazon and Goodreads.
Get Excerpted: Figure out which chapters will have the most impact and get help from your agent/publisher on making connections with editors who handle excerpts.
Podcast Power: There are podcasts that are dedicated to books, such as Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books with Zibby Owens or What Should I Read Next? Or When In Romance or Bad on Paper . If you reach out to them, they may include your book in their upcoming roster.
Get Some Local Library Love: If you can, talk to your local librarian about bringing your book to the library and perhaps having you do a virtual talk for them, that can boost your publicity efforts.
Bookstores Are Believers: If you have local bookstores in your area make them aware that your book is coming out. Ask them about upcoming events and if they are doing any virtual talks or readings. If not, perhaps you can put one together on a common theme with others in your genre or local authors. Offer to sign copies of your book for them to sell.
Buy Your Own Book: When you get closer to publication, the publisher will offer you discounted rates for you to buy your own book. You should take advantage of that opportunity. Added bonus: once this pandemic is over, you can sell them for full price at in person events.
Good luck. It’s a fraught time to be publishing, but with a sound strategy you will succeed.
If you are an agent, editor, or publisher with inside tips please send them to me for an upcoming column.
Sign up for my NYU Course Writing Parenthood