General Tips for Book Promotion

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Promotion is the marketing process that informs people that a particular title is available and why it is in their best interests to read it.

The best book ever written will never sell one copy if people do not know it exists. The best way to increase the velocity of your books through the distribution channels is to communicate an informative and motivating message to a select group of customers.

Publicity, such as press releases and reviews, is perhaps the most economical element of the promotional mix.

People need to understand why it is in their best interest to purchase your book. Later, they need to be reminded to buy it.

Promote perpetually. A book that was not right for a Buyer in circumstances in the past may be perfect under the current conditions. The communication process takes time to evolve. People take their time making decisions about how to spend their money. It is not enough for them to see you or hear about your title only once.

People have to be reminded about your title by being exposed to your message repeatedly. And that takes time.

When purchasing nonfiction, readers are really buying information, motivation and help.


Publicity is the least expensive and perhaps most productive of the promotional strategies used by independent publishers to generate exposure for their books.

Publicity can be accomplished through the use of endorsements, letters to the editor, backgrounders, case histories, newsletters,

Publicity increases awareness and credibility through a third-party testimonial.

Your promotion should have news value to it, stimulating incremental exposure in other media.

In most cases you have no control over what is printed in a review or article about your book. You may have some control over how your story is told because in many cases the media use the copy in your releases verbatim for their articles.

Plan non-traditional publicity programs that will stimulate as much attention as possible.

Do not overlook the broadcast media as a source of low-cost, high-yield publicity.

Develop a list of television and radio shows suited to the topic of each title.

People in the media are not interested in helping you sell books. They are concerned with increasing their circulation and ratings by informing their readers, viewers or listeners about topics of importance to them.

Producers and editors seek information that holds relevance for their audiences.

When pitching producers and editors, your first objective is to get their attention with a provocative headline that quickly points out why your information will be of interest to a large percentage of their readers, viewers or listeners.

Cover Letters for the Media

Use the AIDA formula. First get Attention. Stimulate greater Interest in the first paragraph. Build Desire with additional benefits and close with some call to

Let the readers know in the first paragraph that if they continue reading, they will be rewarded. Speak to the recipient as an individual, i.e., one friend telling another friend about a good thing. Your writing style should be simple: short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, active rather than passive voice. Use the pronoun you. Make your first sentence serve as a headline, grabbing the reader’s attention. Then write each succeeding paragraph to keep him or her interested in reading further.

It’s word of mouth that sells a book more than anything else.
-Marcella Smith, Barnes & Noble

There are ways you can stimulate word-of-mouth communication that will build your sales, reduce your costs and increase your profits.

The standard format for direct mail is a three-piece package consisting of a cover letter describing the

Encourage the store to promote your book in-store at least a week before your appearance. Book signings present an opportunity for you to autograph your book for the individual buyer. A key to a successful book signing is advance notice. A book signing can work if it is part of a total promotional package - if it is in conjunction with a radio interview that day, an interview on the local television station, an article in a local paper, or a review that appeared last week.

We have  actually  found  that  signings  are  the  least effective  author  promotion  which  can  take  place in  the  store. What  really  works  are  events  or panels.
-Marcella Smith, Barnes & Noble

If you decide to go ahead with a book signing, be sure to promote it adequately. Ask the manager to place your book in the front window or on a display inside (take a photograph of these displays for use in future publicity). Send a press release to the local newspapers and mention your signings during your media performances. Try to make your signing an event.  

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