How to Promote Your Book Without Knowing How to Promote Your Book
by Natalie Serber
- Start by having unrealistic expectations regarding what your publisher will do for you. Imagine a multi-city book tour—readings, festivals, hotel rooms, and the hilarious blog you’ll keep.
- Be shocked and disappointed when you learn that this book tour will not be happening.
- Act like a jealous sibling when you learn that another debut author of a story collection, published by your own publisher no less, is being sent on your book tour! Extremely Important: throw this tantrum only inside your own head.
- Pout for exactly one day.
- Ask smart people to blurb your book. I know this is an awful step and really hard, but you have to do it. A good blurb will open doors. I used the strategy of heartfelt admiration and gratitude for their work. When ignored by the potential blurber I made myself ask three times before giving up. Extremely Important: always say Thank You no matter the outcome.
- Begin contacting people. Start with universities with which you are affiliated. Try to get yourself invited to give a reading, to visit workshops, to offer a craft talk.
- Next, contact editors who have published your work in the past. They will be happy to hear from you. Happy for your news. They will feel validated for noticing you and publishing your work first. They may agree to run a review.
- If you don’t already, read lots of book reviews. When you find a reviewer you like, someone who has the same sensibilities as you do, dig deep to find their contact information. Write to them. Ask them if they would please consider reading an advanced copy of your book and then, if inclined, responding with a review. Some will say yes, some will say no. Some will write a review, some won’t. Say Thank You.
- Trust that your publisher is doing serious promoting as well. Try not to be a nuisance. Try not to be discouraged. After all, they bought your book in the first place, they must believe in it. Say Thank You.
- Talk to booksellers. Get them advanced copies. Ask them what they think.
- And of course, social network. Build a website. Create a facebook page. Try to be interesting but don’t be too hard on yourself if you get it wrong. As a countdown to my book launch, I started a 100 Days Project, in which I vowed to try one new thing everyday until the book came out. I got so bored with myself, blue nails, kale smoothie, clip in bike shoes, donating blood, blah, blah, blah… I had to quit.
- Be happy for your friends who do get to go on book tours. Also be a little sad for them. Readings are not be all their cracked up to be, with small audiences, etc… Promote their work. If you don’t mean it, fake it till you make it. Extremely Important: What goes around comes around. If you are grudging, you won’t feel good inside your own heart.
- Respond to readers that reach out to you. What a gift to know that your work has touched someone, perhaps even made someone feel less lonely. That’s why you write, isn’t it? Extremely Important: Don’t forget why you write.
- Have Thank You cards made up. Send them out for the smallest gesture.
- Have fun. Getting a book published is an amazing thing. Smile a lot.
- Extremely Important: Keep Writing. Write More.