|The Upper Access Guide|
to Do and When to Do It:
A Guide to Effective Book Promotion
Following is a general outline of the basic steps to take in promoting a title. A few of the steps are identified as optional, and a few are obviously appropriate only for nonfiction. The most brilliant publicity campaigns, of course, also contain original, one-of-a-kind elements. With those caveats, this document should provide a good start in developing publicity plans.
The timing revolves around the official publication date. This is the arbitrary date that you will list in your submission to Bowker for Books in Print. It is usually some time after books are expected to be printed and in stock.
Before committing yourself to publishing . . .
as objectively as possible, the potential audience for the book. If it's
nonfiction, who will benefit from the information? What other books have
similar information, and why is this one better?
- Make notes on how to reach the intended audience. Are there organizations that will help spread the word? Are there specific publications that target your audience? Is the book likely to be carried by libraries? The answers to those questions will not only help determine how marketable the book will be, but may also influence the final writing, editing, and design of the book. As random examples, you may want to credit an expert who can help you, and add an index to make the book more attractive to librarians.
Eight months before publication date . . .
- Submit the title to the Library of Congress for PCN and, if appropriate, CIP data. Also submit to Bowker for Forthcoming Books in Print. (Bowker submission may be revised on-line later for changes in number of pages, etc.) Initiate detailed planning of the promotional campaign.
Six months before publication date . . .
- At this time,
major editing should be completed. If you are combining elements of typesetting
with the editing process, the format of the book should be taking shape.
It should be very readable, even though finishing touches are still needed.
- Ideally, you should prepare a "pre-galley," trimmed and bound in book form. If the typesetting is not far enough along for that, make neat manuscript copies, comb-bound or otherwise convenient to read. Send these with requests for cover blurbs or other endorsements. Also send them to editors of publications with whom you wish to discuss serial rights or other publication rights.
Four months before publication date . . .
- Bound galleys
must be prepared and shipped to the major reviewers who need them. This
means that editing and typesetting are in nearly final form so that the
pages can be duplicated and bound. The cover art should also be in nearly
final form so that color printouts or photos (of at least the front cover)
can be included with the galleys. Generally, between twelve and fifty galleys
will be sent with pitch letters, although in some cases, it may be worth
sending 100 or more.
should also be sent to others who need advance information, including
any trade distributor (if you have one) and major wholesalers, chain stores,
etc. If you have a distributor or network of sales reps, they will probably
be pre-selling to the chains and others at this time, and will probably
want extra galleys and other materials.
- Final proofreading,
typesetting, and cover design should be completed as soon as possible, so
that files may be created and sent to the printer.
- Brochures or fliers should be prepared for any early publicity, but in relatively small numbers, because new materials will be needed when the reviews and other quotable comments start coming in.
Three months before publication date . . .
- This is a
good time to follow up on the bound galleys that were sent to major reviewers,
wholesalers, and others. Usually the best approach is by telephone, but
check their guidelines on the Web to be sure. Some editors and reviewers
prefer to be contacted by e-mail only. This is not an occasion for high-pressure
salesmanship. Just politely ask if the galleys arrived and if there's anything
else that would be useful.
- If you have an active Web site, the book should be listed and strongly promoted by now, with provisions in place for taking advance orders. You may want to also adopt a separate Web site just for the book. If you work with a fulfillment company such as Book Clearing House, make sure all the materials are provided for its site.
Two months before publication date . . .
- Finished books
are likely to arrive from the printer at about this time. Ideally, you should
already have media lists, press releases, and press kits ready to go, with
or without review copies.
- Mail the first
round of review copies. Numbers will vary (from as few as twenty to as many
as a thousand) depending on a great many considerations. A very carefully
selected mail list is essential.
- The nature
of the press kit accompanying the review copies will also vary greatly.
Depending on the situation, it may be just a press release and pitch
letter and/or press release enclosed with the book. In other cases it
is worthwhile to create an attractive folder with many additional materials.
in the BookSense Advance program should be considered.
- The book should be listed by Amazon, BN.com, and other major Web stores. If the listings are minimal, supply the material needed for enhancements.
One month before publication date . . .
- Be sure to
send finished books to every major reviewer who received a bound galley,
even if there is no review. Sometimes, this can make a last-minute difference,
particularly if it's a very attractive book. It may also be kept on file
for later feature articles about its genre. At the very least, this is a
courtesy to major reviewers whom you will be approaching again when you
release another book.
- By now you
should know whether you are receiving reviews from the advance galleys you
sent to library publications such as Library Journal and Booklist.
If there are favorable reviews in these publications, start making arrangements
to print fliers quoting the reviews to be mailed in library mailing programs.
Small advertisements in library publications quoting the reviews may also
- News releases
should also be sent to many other mediausually at least 2,000. Use
e-mail for reviewers who prefer it, and broadcast faxing for others. Regular
mail has some advantages, because one can enclose sidebars and other material,
but is more expensive so the list must be carefully selected. In most cases,
a review copy should be offered if the person receiving this material requests
- This is a good time to start making arrangements for book signings and talks at stores and other venues such as libraries.
On the publication date . . .
- As of this
date, you can no longer use words such as "advance" and "forthcoming" in
promoting the book, but you can still call it "new" for a few weeks or months.
This is a good day to tie up loose ends. Are there important magazines that
haven't yet received review copies? Does it seem appropriate to fax or e-mail
a second press release to a new list? Did you remember to send a press release
to your Alma Mater to include in its alumni publications? How about your
local weekly? Have you brought a book to the manager of your local bookstore
and asked if a signing can be arranged? Have you followed up with contacts
who have already received materials?
- This is also
a good time to take a new look at your publicity program, to see if any
mid-course changes are in order. How you proceed from here depends in part
on how your publicity has been received so far. (If everything has been
disappointing so far, don't give up!)
- Publication day is also a good time to break out the champagne with your spouse/partner and anybody else who has been helpful and supportive. Don't forget to send thank-you notes and free copies to people who gave you cover quotes, provided information, or performed other good deeds to help make possible this great book.
After the publication date . . .
- If your author
is an articulate speaker, start a campaign of broadcast appearances, which
can continue as long as the book remains in print.
signings and library readings can also continue long after the book is in
- When people
tell you they like the book, encourage them to write a review for Amazon
- Monitor the
media. If a news event occurs that overlaps with the book's subject
matter, contact journalists covering the events and fax news releases
with your author's comments. If the subject is back in the news frequently,
consider e-mailing releases with new angles once a month or so.
- Consider listing
your author in the various reference books and on Web sites of experts available
for interview by journalists.
- Consider subscribing
to a service such as ProfNet, which connects journalists with experts (your
authors). If you have only one or two authors who are likely to benefit,
then it will probably be less expensive to work with a PR company that subscribes
to the service.
- If you did
not receive early reviews from major library publications, work hard to
get write-ups in other publications that are respected by librarians. Some
of them will review books after the publication date. With appropriate reviews
you may be able to sell thousands of books to libraries. Without the reviews
you'll sell almost none.
- If a book has suffered from inadequate early promotion, it is possible to undertake a media blitz for an older title, particularly if it is nonfiction and the information is not out of date. If a book has done well early on but sales have declined, create new promotions to revive public interest. It's never too late to launch a new publicity campaign for a book that is well written and well produced, with information that is still valid.
Copyright © 2002-2006 by Upper Access, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce this document as long as it is reproduced in full, including this copyright statement and contact information for Upper Access, Inc. For any other use, please contact Upper Access, Inc.