Your Book Is Out! Have You Really Missed Your Chance At Publicity?

Trying to publicize a book, particularly by way of newspapers and magazines, can be so challenging for already published or just publishing titles that authors in this position are often turned down by publicity firms. Finding the right publicist has become a bit like finding an agent.

There is enormous value to be had in the months until publication, and when consulting with writers, this has become the starting point of any conversation. Carving out ample lead time to promote or think about promotion can make the difference between a book published proactively and a book published reactively. With 3-6 or even 8 months to plan what you want your publication to look like, the reading world is your oyster. You can begin to craft a marketing strategy including those blue sky ideas that, when you’re publicizing a book retroactively, will be near impossible to achieve. With 3-8 months ahead, you can do a lot by way of networking, social or otherwise, and have a much better shot at mainstream publicity.

But for lack of knowledge or budget, or for relying too heavily on their publishers, many authors find themselves in the retroactive position. Instead of tossing in the towel come what may, I think there are avenues to market or publicize your book in a way that builds an audience perhaps slowly, but also more meaningfully and permanently. Before you begin, it’s crucial to shift your objective from ‘buy my book!’ to ‘learn about my book and see if you like it.’ Don’t fall prey to algorithms and popularity contests. What good are those thousands of followers and friends, those form letters to no one in particular, if these are not people who would realistically enjoy your book?

Here are a few ways to use free social platforms available to everyone to genuinely connect with readers at an individual level:

Amazon has a ranking system for reviewers, so look for “top” or active reviewers who have given favorable reviews to titles similar to yours and find out more about them. Many list their email publicly. Approach those you can with a small line about your book, mentioning personal compliments that show you’ve done your research, i.e. how helpful or thorough you’ve found their reviews to be. But first, make sure your Amazon Author Page shows both your professional and unique personality” (Twitter, blog, video, etc), and offers the most compelling description of your books. Read more on best practices for creating your Amazon page here.

Like Amazon, make sure your Author Profile is as interactive as possible. Then, begin your awareness initiative by first seeking the lowest hanging fruit: people you know. Instead of blasting Goodreads invitations to your entire email database (Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook allow this to be done all too easily), send invitations to those you know are readers and friends, or even friends of friends, in real life. Go the extra step and personalize that note, mentioning that you’d be thrilled if the person might check out your book on Goodreads and even rate or review it.

Take advantage of giveaways. Free books are an easy way to spread good will and word of mouth among readers. You might even think of a holiday tie-in: a family memoir or an inspirational book about gratitude may work well for Thanksgiving, even if your book published in May.

Like Goodreads, don’t mass invite everyone to Like your page. Discern and invite those you know would either like to help, or might actually enjoy your updates. Become a fan of others’ pages in similar genres, and interact on their pages as well as with fans on your own.

If you’re not delighted with the speed by which your Facebook page is growing, try a giveaway using Rafflecopter, or even targeted advertising on Facebook. A really compelling line or question, or an incentive, will always encourage clicks more than a standard “Like My Page.”

Follow everyone from fellow authors to journalists in your category to book bloggers to relevant organizations, immediately getting their attention. (You can do this from your IPhone while watching TV!) Once you follow that first list, you can see who those people are following, tweeting to, and the subjects or hashtags they are tweeting about. Go ahead and insert yourself in the conversation. It’s not even necessary, or even recommended, to mention your book. It should be in your profile already for anyone looking.

If you are uncomfortable with self-promotion, as many authors are, treat “micro pitches” to strangers whether on Amazon or Facebook as a writing assignment. Start by saying something that encapsulates the most relevant point or special virtue of your book in the most concise way possible. Now, step back, put yourself in the receiver’s shoes, and remove any indication of your own ego. Now insert your personality into it. Maybe that’s a warm, energetic, even exclamatory writing style, or maybe your writing is dry, sardonic, self-deprecating. The more ‘you’ that’s writing, the better.

Finally, be strategic in managing your efforts. Analyze which social networks have the most activity or benefit for you, and plug in your time accordingly.

We’ll be expanding on this and other best practices for book marketing in courses starting this Fall. Keep checking our website for more information coming soon.

Tracy McCubbin


"Tracy McCubbin truly understands the psychology behind peoples' attachment to things. When Tracy helps me declutter my house, she also helps me declutter my life! I feel lighter and more focused after Tracy works her magic. I'm so excited that now my friends and fans will have the opportunity to meet Tracy through her book—a fresh start is just pages away!" — Patricia Heaton