You may have had personal reasons for writing your book, but if you want your message to reach thousands of readers, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to work on a knockout publicity plan.
It would be great if your book could just sell itself, but unless you’re already a household name, that’s usually not the case.
That means it’s up to you to sell not only your book, but in many ways, yourself, too. (We promise that’s not as scary as it sounds!)
With the tips and strategies we’ll be exploring below, you’ll be able to craft a foolproof publicity plan that will get your book where it belongs: in the hands of (many) eager readers.
How to Get Publicity for Your Book
Keep the following tips in mind as you work on building your book’s marketing and publicity plan.
1. Remember: It’s About You, Too
While no one could fault you for thinking that your book promotion efforts are all about your book, that’s not completely true.
If you want to get publicity for your book, you must understand that the process is about you as much as it is your book. After all, when you’re participating in interviews or hosting signings, it will be you talking, and not your book.
While public speaking and large events may not be every writer’s cup of tea, it’s important that you can confidently present yourself as an expert in your field or your book’s topic.
Now is the time to brush up on top social media strategies and make sure that your accounts are up to date and reflective of the image you want to project for yourself. Engagement on these platforms can go a long way.
2. Understand Your Audience
Understanding your audience is one of the first steps to writing your book, but it’s just as important for promoting the book once it’s finished.
By clearly defining your audience, you’ll be better able to target the best media platforms to reach those readers.
Effective market research can help you to understand the types of media your ideal readers consume, as well as where and how they access those media. This will help guide you toward the opportunities worth pursuing for your book.
3. Learn to Write a Media Pitch
Learning how to write a media pitch that sells both you and your story is an essential skill when it comes to garnering publicity for your book.
A successful media pitch is typically a brief email or letter that convinces publications or hosts that you would make a great guest or subject for their platform.
To write a great pitch, you’ll need to put yourself in the shoes of an editor or producer who is looking for excellent content. Ask yourself: What makes your story special? Why will their audiences love it?
Learn how to use HARO or similar sites to link up with reporters and find opportunities to send your pitch and get free publicity.
4. Create a Press Kit
An important element in your pitch will be a stellar press kit. A press kit consists of all the relevant information about you and your book that will be sent to members of the media so you can (hopefully) get covered by them.
Your press kit can be digital (available on your website and easily shareable via a link), or you can send out physical press kits and include things like a copy of your book.
Here are some examples of what you might include:
- A brief biography
- Any relevant press releases
- Fact sheets
What’s the point of all this?
A good press kit makes the media’s job easier by saving them time on research, preparation, and racking their brains for questions to ask you during an interview.
Your kit will tell them everything they should know about you and your project before you sit down to talk, or before they write up an article on your event.
The more effort you put into your press kit, the more likely you’ll be called for an interview because you’ll show that you take both your work and their time seriously.
5. Create an Engaging Author Website
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you want to create an author website that engages your reader and offers them an opportunity to become part of your community.
If you’re writing on a nonfiction topic, you want to:
- Give people useful information for free via blog posts
- Give people the opportunity to join your mailing list
- Create a gift that makes members of your audience want to join your mailing list
- Give your audience different ways to connect with you personally
If you are a fiction author, you want to:
- Post on your blog about upcoming releases
- Create a free short story or novella for each of your series, and give it to readers who sign up for your mailing list
- Post about giveaways
- Give your audience different ways of connecting with you personally
As an author, you have to go far beyond just writing a book if you want to build an audience and make writing your career.
You have to engage with your readers and create as many superfans as you can. You have to be willing to put in the work if you want to make writing your full-time career.
6. Do a Blog Tour
A blog tour is one way to reach thousands of readers without ever leaving your couch.
Blog tours usually take place over a few weeks, during which your guest posts—consisting of unique, original content—will be shared across multiple blogs.
Your tour should be scheduled around your book’s release date (perhaps the week before and the week following your debut, for example).
Your posts should always include an image of your book’s cover, your photo, a brief bio, and buy links.
7. Offer Book Giveaways
As bestselling author and marketing expert Penny Sansevieri explains in our podcast on getting internet publicity for your book, rising authors could take a page or two from soap opera stars.
Sansevieri says that by making readers feel special—by inviting them to be part of an early review or giving away signed copies—writers can cultivate a following of superfans, which can prove “more valuable than a $50,000 marketing budget.”
Offer giveaways to bloggers, radio show hosts, and anyone else you’re targeting in your publicity campaign.
Consider holding contests or random giveaways for your followers on social media. This will help solidify your relationship, and also likely add a few more superfans to your army.
8. Draft a Press Release
A quality press release will convince the media that your book is worth covering or reviewing. In 400 words or less, you should be able to communicate the essence of your book, explain why it matters, and provide compelling reasons for why the press should feature you and your book on their platform.
By providing the most important information, you’ll cut down the research and creative work that reporters or hosts will have to do, which is often a great incentive for them to choose your pitch over others.
And if you can demonstrate why your story will make valuable content for their audiences, you’ll also save them time when it comes to finding the best angle to present your story.
You can also use a press release to advertise upcoming events, such as your book launch party, to entice bloggers and reporters to show up and cover the event.
9. Get Booked for Interviews
You’re going to have to speak for your book, and like it or not, that means you’ll probably have to open up a bit about yourself, too.
Interviews allow you to talk about and promote your book, but also show audiences who you are. Often, the more relatable you seem, the more audiences will be enticed to buy your book.
Learn how to get booked for interviews on podcasts, radio, and other media platforms so you can build your author brand and get more exposure for your book.
10. Make It Personal
Just like with cover letters and interview follow-ups, a personal greeting can go a long way when it comes to media pitches.
Take the time to find the name of the exact individual you need to contact so you can make your introduction personal. Then, take it a step further by researching what they’ve written or produced lately.
Your personalized pitch might start something like this:
“Hi Catherine, I just read your recent article on [topic relevant to your area of expertise] and thought you might be interested in [your book or event you want covered].”
This shows the recipient that you cared enough to take the time to research them, which will make them more likely to respond to your inquiry.
11. Follow the News
If you’re able to add commentary on current events or trends, you’ll be that much more valuable to bloggers, interviewers, and reporters.
Stay up to date on trending stories, especially those related to your field, so that you can offer your expert insight for features articles or podcast episodes.
12. Get Professional Book Reviews
Getting professional book reviews is important, and it’s something you can do even if you’re self-published.
A number of publications, from Publishers Weekly to The San Francisco Book Review, issue reviews of self-published books.
These reviews are important, because they signal to potential buyers that your book has been vetted by a trusted name, and not just a random reviewer on Amazon.
GoodReads is another great option when it comes to reviews, but just make sure that you follow guidelines and add some value to the group before soliciting reviews.
How Do You Create a Publicity Plan?
These 7 steps are essential to a successful publicity plan.
1. Determine your publicity goals.
When you start your publicity quest, you should have clear which platforms are best for you and your book.
Do you need to focus on radio shows to reach an older demographic? Or should you put most of your efforts into social media influencers? Is it a (realistic) goal of yours to talk about your book on a major network?
Clearly outline your goals. Don’t aim too low, but don’t choose goals that are too lofty and unrealistic, either. Take into account all of your existing connections and reach out to see how they might be able to help you.
2. Create strategies for every objective.
Once you’ve made a list of your top goals, make a plan for each one with specific, actionable steps. Think about your strategies, such as:
- Method of communication
- Messages you want to convey
- Other relevant activities you want to plan for your campaign
List the specific steps you need to take, and set deadlines and reminders for yourself along the way.
Stay organized! You can create spreadsheets with the contact information of the different people you need to reach out to, track their responses, and follow up accordingly.
Make checklists and To-Do’s, keep a detailed planner—whatever you need to do to stay on top of your tasks and keep progressing toward your goals.
3. Make the most of your resources.
As you go about executing your strategies to reach each objective, consider the resources you already have.
Do you have any valuable contacts whom you might reach out to for help? What about the followers you already have on social media? How can you rally them to spread the word about your upcoming events or appearances?
Create a list of all of your relevant resources—from contacts to social platforms to followers—and think about how you can use each to reach your goals.
You can also list resources that you don’t yet have but would like to have, though it’s best to start acting with what’s already available to you.
4. Plan engaging activities.
Radio interviews, podcasts, and guest blog posts are all great, but be sure to plan some events that allow you to interact with the public and with the loyal followers you already have.
You might host an Instagram or Facebook Live stream for a Q&A, host signings and meet-and-greets, or offer competitions and giveaways.
The more interactive and relatable you are, the more organic exposure your name is likely to get before your book is even released.
As you progress through the different stages of your publicity plan, keep track of what’s working and what isn’t, so you can adjust accordingly.
There’s a good chance that the strategies you planned at the beginning of this process will need to be tweaked along the way.
For example, if you’re not getting any responses to your pitches, that’s a sign you should probably rewrite your pitch or try a new approach altogether.
6. Make a budget.
Before you start executing your plans, make sure you have established a realistic budget that you’ll be able to stick to. You don’t want all of your royalty checks to go toward paying off debts!
A few things you might want to consider in your budget:
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Paid promotions
- Staff time (if you’ve hired a team or outsourced some tasks)
7. Stay on schedule.
Create a realistic time frame for when you’d like each phase of your plan to be completed and stick to it.
Set reminders on your phone for when it’s time to follow up with certain people or for when you need to submit materials.
You might get very excited for certain projects and become tempted to put all of your time and energy there, but try not to get hung up on any one phase in your plan.
Look at your publicity campaign as a whole and devote the time and resources each aspect needs to succeed.
How Do You Make a Book Go Viral?
One of your best bets for making your book go viral is building a community around you and your book.
You can start with the social media following you already have, and use that platform to engage with fans and potential readers. You can (and should) also ask for their feedback on your projects.
It’s important to note here that enthusiasm within your community can really make a greater impact than the size of your community.
Returning to Penny Sansevieri’s point above about superfans, a tight group of very loyal followers can actually prove more powerful than a community of thousands or millions.
You might even be able to assemble a street team of dedicated fans who will promote your book out of sincere passion for your writing.
Once you have built a community, make sure you stay engaged with your fans and followers. Stay active on social media, respond to comments, and even host live events when you can. Keeping your fans satisfied ensures that you’ll always have a loyal base.
How Do I Get People to Buy My Book?
If you want to get more people to buy your book, you must know how to tap into their emotions.
If you’ve done your homework and taken the time to study your target audience, as we explained at the beginning of this post, then you’ll know what readers want and why.
You can then take that knowledge and use it to help potential buyers rationalize the purchase. They’ll want to feel assured that the purchase provides a good value, that the purchase is convenient, and that the potential for loss on their investment is low.
Do what you can to help potential buyers justify their purchase. For example, consider offering a money-back guarantee in case they aren’t satisfied with your book.
In other words, put yourself in the buyer’s position and think about what you would need to feel that a purchase is justified.
Tools and Resources for Book Publicity
There are quite a few resources out there that can help you track down influencers, identify trends, and find other opportunities for outreach. Here are some of our favorites:
- HARO: Help A Reporter Out connects bloggers and reporters with expert sources. You can sign up for their free newsletter and get notified when a writer is looking to interview or cite someone in your area of expertise.
- TweetReach: This site allows users to search an author, topic, or Twitter handle to see exactly how many people were reached by those tweets, which is a great resource if you’re trying to identify influencers.
- Alltop: Search topics related to your book and Alltop will provide the top articles and blogs on that topic.
- Google Trends: Particularly helpful for news-related topics, this free tool provides useful insights on the traffic of your search term, as well as geographic patterns.
- Twazzup: Twazzup allows users to filter news from live Twitter content in order to see trending topics and leading influencers on any given subject.
- Ragan’s PR Daily: This site offers helpful tips, insights, and ideas for successful PR strategies.
The Right PR for Your Book
Your ideal publicity plan will depend a lot on your book and your target audience. That’s why we can’t stress enough the importance of understanding your audience at every phase of your book’s production.
If you want to start from the basics, you can check out our list of the best online marketing courses to learn more about market research, outreach, and more strategies for expanding your influence.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!