Michael FitzGerald, one of the founders of Submittable (which you’re probably familiar with, if you’ve ever submitted your work for consideration at a magazine or publishing company), recently pointed me to an article he wrote about the challenges of, and solutions for promoting your book.
One of the more sobering realizations you’ll have after you finish writing your first book is that now you have to sell and promote it. Even if the book is published by a larger, well-established publisher, a book–especially a debut book–only has 2 to 3 months to get itself reviewed and in the hands of readers …
The “even if” caveat here can be read two ways; first, you should realize that this marketing and publicity challenge is going to be even harder if you’re self publishing. But on the second hand, you might find consolation in the fact that this work isn’t much easier for your colleagues who published with a big New York City company.
And here’s where the rest of Michael’s post comes in handy. Using the philosophy from Traction, a book about funding for startups, Michael offers 19 things authors can do to launch their book into the world—noting, importantly, that “people can’t order your book unless they’ve heard of you.” Some of the activities he mentions include email marketing and targeting blogs, as well as more hands off approaches like buying ads with Google. My favorite, of course, is something he calls “Community building”:
Take part in social media and forums. Review other people’s books. 10 years ago, Good Reads was excellent but I’m sure there’s something better now. But demonstrate that you read and review other people’s books. Don’t let things escalate in the comment sections or get too worked up about negative feedback. Just act sincere and people will generally reciprocate.
It’s a long article, many of the 19 ideas have several bullet points that should generate thoughts for your project. Reading it is well worth your time—especially if you treat it seriously. Keep a pen in your hand and jot down ideas that seem most interesting to you. Perhaps keep a separate page in your notebook for each idea. And if you follow his last bit of advice, you’ll be doing great:
Even if some of these ideas struck you as useless, I think the most important thing about promotion is to do something, anything, every day. Make it habitual. Use 50% of the time you used to use to write to get your book in front of people. If you have a full-time job, wake up early for the 6 months around your book launch and spend 1 to 2 hours per day doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Promotion is mostly about being habitual, getting your book in front of one new person every day. It’s not too different from writing in this way. Don’t sweat the rejection. Don’t give up.