Book Promotion Planning

May 15, 2024
By Merrie Meyers
Featured image for “Book Promotion Planning”
Over the years, I’ve marveled at how accomplished our members are. So many books are published by our prolific community in such a short time! Many of the books are self-published, or produced by small imprints, without the big budgets of international publishers such as Simon & Schuster. So, how does one promote their work to generate reader interest and book sales? So often, it’s a herculean task just to get the thing out of the computer and over to the graphic designer for paste-up and illustrations or graphics. It’s hard to think ahead to the business side of the equation. What follows are some tips I’ve consolidated from the blogs of best-selling authors. Because, hey, theft IS the highest form of flattery!

Initial Steps

Create a Timeline Checklist

Research the Target Audience
Focus on tactics that reach the right readers with the right message at the right time to spend less money (and time!) while selling more copies. Ask your existing audience questions digging into their buying habits, online behavior, and demographics. You can ask via surveys, interviews, focus groups, and social media. Their answers will help you better understand how to reach them and more readers like them via the right channels and messaging.

Learn how your audience searches for books
Compile a list of search queries that the audience uses to search for books like yours. You can incorporate some of these into your promotional plan and metadata. Research trending keywords, using Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner. Look at reader reviews in the genre and find language readers use to describe the books.

Speaking of Genre
Compile a list of comparable authors. Doing research on this early on helps you cater your promotional copy and creative. Hint: check the “Also bought” section of a book or author’s retailer pages.

Research book promotion channels and tactics
BookBug Partners Blog offers case studies that describe book promotion tactics. Review past experiences to decide what worked well, and what didn’t.

Early Book Promotion

Here are some ideas for creating initial buzz about your soon to be published best seller.

  • Announce a title reveal or a book deal. You can even create a hypothetical conversation between two of your characters.
  • Post a Cover Reveal. The first look should be sent to those sites (blogs, platforms, publications) identified during your reader research.
  • Secure blurbs from comparable authors. This can catch readers’ attention. Posts containing author quotes yield a higher click-through rate.
  • Keep your author profile up to date. Readers can learn about your work in many ways. Once they develop an awareness of you and your work, BookBub offers a space to create an author profile. Your newest title should be listed, along with links to pre-order, as soon as possible. Getting more BookBub followers can help widen your reach, which can lead to more book sales. The more followers you have the more people will get an email about your new release. Here is a link to more ideas for building a “followership.”
  • Build a mailing list on your website. Include a subscription form to include email addresses. That allows you to directly contact readers with information about upcoming releases and opportunities to pre-order. When people subscribe, send them a welcome email and a freebie of some sort (special writing, sneak peek at an upcoming piece) and a thank you for signing up.
  • Author Street Teams. A street team is a group of fans who work to promote an author, building word-of-mouth buzz for a book. Some authors use Facebook to organize their team and/or recruit new members.
  • Create high quality images of your book covers. You can use these images in social media campaigns and throughout other promotional campaign activities.
  • Create a News Release and distribute it to retailer sites and other groups (Facebook, book clubs, etc.) where you’d find your readers.
  • Pretest book promotional copy. Don’t assume you know what will “sell” your book to readers. Float the copy to several individuals, use polling software or run a split ad using two platforms to determine which generates the highest audience response.
  • Book Swag. Consider your target audience and decide what promotional items will help them remember you. Flat items are the easiest to include with a book. Consider what would be relevant for your audience, ties into the story and, if not free, is positioned at a desirable price point.
  • Book Back matter should be updated. If you own the rights to your existing books, update them to promote the preorder of the new book. Also, if you include an excerpt of the upcoming book, that can help promote and sell copies.
  • Update social media headings, images, and content to reflect the upcoming release.
  • Promote preordering by placing ads on the sites where the book will be sold.
  • More pre-order sales ideas. Create incentives for readers who pre-order; Create an online contest for readers such as fan art, guessing plot lines, etc.; encourage people to post pictures on your site; if you have other material, create a digital gift pack of past material, deleted scenes from other publications or vignettes that weren’t included in the main book.
  • Create a countdown clock on social media.

Release Day

Media Relations
Republish your news release. When your site is live, send an updated news release to all of the sites you touched during the pre-release phase.

Social Media
Update your author branding and social media. Create headers on home pages/landing pages to increase awareness. Make sure you change the “pre-order” now call to action to “buy now.” You can also have a Facebook live celebration on the Release day. Offer a Q&A session. You can run it live, record it and make it available to others.

Add retailer links to your social media to help readers quickly purchase the book in their desired format. Update and re-run the ads on these sites.

Fan Base
Send the promotion and news release to your mailing list.

Other Authors
Ask other authors to recommend or promote your book and do the same for them.

Package Selling
Offer a combo price if readers buy the new book, they get a discounted price on a previous book.

Post Launch

Keep up the promotion
After the book is released, don’t stop promoting it. Maintain the momentum you’ve built up over the past few months. Cross-promote with other authors in the genre; model good practices by regularly recommending their books on your social media platforms; participate in podcasts/interviews; find out if local indie or chain book stores are organizing readings or authors panels and get involved!; post fun photos on social media; add video excitement; run sales promotions; sign up for reporter story sites such as Help a Reporter Out (HARO), you could find an opportunity to be quoted. Ask digital journalists if they will like to your site.

If these tips are helpful, and they work for you, let me know! Thanks, feedback is always appreciated.

This article first appeared in Ruff Drafts, Spring 2021.