Friday, November 22, 2019

Publicity and Promotion

Many people in the public eye believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Publicity, positive or negative, promotes a career because it puts that person in the limelight. Of course, writers would like to be recognized for the quality of their work. Bad reviews hurt a writer’s sales and recognition as a serious author. Nevertheless, being ignored by reviewers is not something that authors appreciate either. Readers aren’t going to buy books they’ve never heard of. No reviews? No publicity? No sales.

So how do authors go about reaching readers, building a following among those who buy books? After all, it’s not just the small independent publishers who do little to promote their authors. These days even the major publishers do not put much effort and money into book promotion either. Writers have to think proactive.

How should writers go about reaching and building a readership? I’m going to offer a few suggestions that won’t break your bank account.

l. Use the internet:

a. Create a website. Every professional writer should have one.

b. Do social media networking such as blogging. Create your own blog and also guest blog on other sites. Interview other authors. Offer to do interviews on other sites, not those only for writers. Reach out to a more general, larger audience.  Create a presence on such popular internet sites as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Bookbub, Booktown, etc.

d. Join internet writer groups of authors with common interests. Be an active reader and comment often in group and on their blogs. Not everyone can be an “influencer” but it helps to connect.

e. Be willing to read and review the work of other writers.

f. Ask other authors in your genre to read and review your books as well. You want as many reviews as possible on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Kobo, etc.

g. Send out advance review copies to internet reviewers who read in your genre. Reviews are important and we can’t always get them from the major review publications.

h. Possibly offer ARCs as giveaways both on your site, other sites. Is giving away free books a good method of increasing overall sales and getting publicity for an author’s brand? It appears to do so for ebooks. Many writers are offering free ebooks on Amazon. Usually this creates awareness of an author who has numerous books to offer. I don’t have the statistics on how well this is working out. If you do, please comment.

2. Bookstore signings and events are great. However, unless you are a famous author, these opportunities have diminished. My advice is to see if there are any independent bookstores locally that you can contact. Be prepared to advertise your “event”/signing on your own.

3. Library Events. Offer to do a program at your local library. You can have a book signing and selling afterward if the library approves.

4. Don’t forget to advertise every program you do. Contact the local newspapers and offer a “news release.”

5. Your college probably has a graduate publication, magazine or newsletter. The publication of your book is certainly a newsworthy item.

6. Consider selling books at various unexpected places. Book fairs sponsored by local libraries are great and so are craft shows, however, you might think of a more creative venue. Try to think outside the box. For example, suppose your novel is about a baker. Is there a local bakery that might display and sell your books on consignment?  Is your novel set in a beauty parlor? Would a beauty shop owner allow your books selling space for a cut of the profits?

7. Attending conferences. Many writers swear by them. It’s a great place for networking and connecting. You can meet editors, agents and other authors. At the very least, you can interact and get interesting feedback and share ideas. Since our work is solitary, this is a good way to know you are not alone.

8. Some writers publish their own newsletters which advertise the release of their new books as they come out.

9. You might also keep friends and relatives in the loop through e-mail announcements.

10. Send out announcements to acquisition librarians, especially if your book has had good reviews which you can quote. This can be done inexpensively via e-mail.

11. Podcasts are popular as are Youtube videos. If you have a talent for creating either one, it might benefit sales.

Have I left out anything that I should be mentioning? As a writer, what promotion and or publicity ideas have worked well for you and might work well for other authors?
Readers, what determines the books you select? I would love to share ideas in this forum.


  1. All good points, Jacqueline. There are many things to try, but authors have to realize that getting their books noticed these days is extremely difficult--there are so many good books and good authors! It's a slow process that takes patience and a lot of work.
    I would add that Mark Coker (Smashwords), Penny Sansevieri (AME), and others offer lists of things to try. Like good info obtained from blogs like yours, this is free info...we have to be smart about how we spend our promo dollars.
    Other than copies to reviewers in exchange for an honest review (this can be formalized via Booksprout and NetGalley), I don't think giving books away helps that much. Let's suppose the average book will have N readers (the number N is debatable and genre dependent). If the author gives away N books or more, that audience is depleted. It's much better to have readers saying, "Have you read author X's book?" Reasonable pricing, not freebies, helps to convince readers that X's book is worth something. But I'm no psychologist...and maybe everyone just wants freebies these days?

    1. Steven,

      This makes a lot of sense. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Certainly all excellent suggestions and I feel I have used most of them. Still, having a publisher with a wide distribution must be helpful...not sure I can acquire this without a literary agent and they are so hard to get...

    1. Susan,

      That is, of course, the real answer to success in writing. We need a literary agent that is well-connected, a big five publisher with large distribution and the ability to get the right reviews. And that is not easy to do.

  3. Jacquie, that's a good list for every writer to review, picking the suggestions that work for that one particular author. We can't do everything, but we should look over what is possible and get to work on those.

    1. True, Susan, none of us can do everything. It's good to consider what we are able to do. We all have limitations. To bad publishers won't do much these days.

  4. ALL great ideas!
    Thanks for sharing
    Good luck and God's blessings on your new release!

    1. Pam,

      Thanks for commenting and for your good wishes!

  5. All good points, Jacqueline. And, unfortunately, today authors must also be PR people. Even those at major publishers, unless you're at the very top, end up doing a lot of their own PR. It's a whole 'nother skill we have to add to our quiver.

    1. Paul,

      It is a shame that times have changed so much in this regard. But no one will know our books exist if we aren't proactive in promotion.

  6. Very good list. The problem is having the time to do all these things.

  7. I agree with your other commenters that these are great ideas, and that each takes time. The best advice I've had is to get a lot of books out, books that we're proud of, then worry about the promoting. But it is discouraging trying to find reviewers.

    1. Reader reviews come with distribution and publicity.That's why the major publishers have the advantage.

  8. You listed some great suggestions, Jacquie, and I've tried several of them. Some have proven to be effective; some haven't. I believe the best form of promotion is word of mouth. No matter what else we do, we need the support of other authors, friends and family members to get our books "out there" and I'm very grateful to those who have so kindly given that to me - and that includes you.

  9. Pat,

    Thanks for your comments. Positive word of mouth really is important.

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