Part 7: Free publicity for book authors

It’s never too soon to begin the publicity campaign for a new book.

Jill Lublin, one of the authors of Guerilla Publicity, advises her clients, “Start publicity way before you need it.” In Part 7 of this series of networking suggestions for authors, you’ll find a few tips to get you going and lots of links to examples, resources, and professional advice.

Let’s assume you followed the suggestions in the first five parts of this series and built the infrastructure for your online presence. Now, you’ve begun talking about the book on your blog and encouraging feedback by asking readers to post comments in response to specific questions. HarperCollins just established a blogging service for its Avon imprint’s dozens of romance authors. Don’t wait to see if blogging will catch on. It happened three years ago.

Say your book now has the added status of its own website, and you’ve begun compiling a mailing list. Website and blog visitors are invited to sign up for your email newsletter. At each of your promotional appearances, you ask for email addresses and offer to send out announcements of the book’s launch, your future appearances, and book events. Of course, you unfailingly include a courteous opt-out feature in each newsletter or email notification.

You’re exploring social networking websites. You post news of upcoming events on niche networks like Meetup and BookTour. One enterprising college freshman started a Facebook group called I would like to purchase Ben’s recently published book.

No one ever said free publicity would be easy to attract. The best publicists don’t come cheap, and now you know why. But if you’re willing to do the work, you can expect modest success with strategies that cost nothing but time.

Search engine results

Be confident your book will show up when someone searches for it on the Web by its title or topic. Google has several advertising programs for books that can help. One is the free Google Book Search Partners Program, which makes a limited number of the book’s pages visible in a web browser when words found in the text match a user’s search terms. You can participate in the program if your book is self-published or if you possess the copyright. If a publisher owns the rights to your book, the publisher can choose to participate in the program.

The search giant has more suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of your online presence in the Google Book Search Help Center Books Partner Program introduction.

Author interviews

Make your availability for interviews known with a press kit. Attach one to your websites, and send copies to the appropriate print, broadcast, and Internet media outlets. Energetic publicist Rick Frishman covers book publicity on his blog and as a contributor to Beneath the Cover, where you’ll find his instructions for compiling an impressive media kit.

Consider including a video in the expanded version of your press kit. Book video trailers will be are described in Part 8 of this series, coming soon.

Media coach Susan Harrow’s “How to Get Booked on Oprah” explains how to pitch an idea to the producers of a radio or television program.

The Kacey Kowars ShowAuthor interviews can easily be conducted by phone for radio broadcasts or Web podcasts. Don’t overlook proliferating online programs like Writers Revealed, the Bat Segundo Show, and [updated on October 8, 2007] the Kacey Kowars Show based in Columbus, Ohio.

You can host your own interview by offering a free teleconference. It’s one way to connect with book discussion groups for author Q&A sessions.

Blog tours can be executed in text, audio, or video format. To arrange one, contact several bloggers who cover your book’s topic. They’re often looking for new material and might be happy to interview you or to have you write as a guest blogger.

Exposure that may seem insignificant can become viral on the Web because it remains available indefinitely. Nevertheless, “clip” and save everything from book reviews to interviews for your press kit.

Free press release distribution

Before you send out a press release, ensure it will be effective. Read these guides:

Provide concise, useful information with news value to the individuals who will read your press release, as well as their audiences or readers.

The following websites offer to disseminate your press release online at no cost (but beware of any “free” services that claim editors must first revise your release for a fee):

Free press release services don’t really target specific media. Instead, anyone who’s interested filters all of the posted news releases for subjects of particular interest. Therefore, you might want to submit your press release by email or postal mail directly to your alumni magazine editor, the Associated Press (AP), Reuters, trade journals covering your subject, radio stations, and any other potential sources of free publicity.

Don’t be alarmed if your press releases are overlooked. Your announcement will be competing with hundreds of other potentially newsworthy bulletins. It takes years to develop a network of media contacts that will open doors, but occasionally, just being in the right place at the right time does the trick.

For that moment of synchronicity, when someone in the media expresses interest by contacting you, be prepared to follow up immediately by providing a comprehensive, customized press kit, including your book or a few of its chapters. Devote a portion of your website to an online media kit that’s instantly available to anyone who needs it. Journalists working on deadlines will want the information right away.

Readings, panels, and other events

Everyone expects to find authors at book fairs. The Library of Congress Center for the Book lists some of the book fairs around the world and a book events calendar.

Offer to schedule readings or panel discussions at coffeehouses, bars, ice cream parlors, bookstores, libraries, club meetings, trade shows and conferences, schools, historical societies, gift shops, hospitals, nursing homes, or any small business or organization related to the topic of your book. To arrange a book signing or event, contact the store or organization’s public relations manager, general manager, or director.

Keep in mind that, in addition to stocking only the books most likely to appeal to the majority of their customers, some very large retailers currently require an available inventory of thousands of copies of each title, making the very real risk of returns an obstacle to many small publishers.

Bookstores and other venues, no matter how large, expect authors to take an active part in publicizing their appearances. List your upcoming event on sites like BookTour and other online networking services and issue press releases.

Take copies of your book to the event. It’s not uncommon for deliveries to go awry, which means a store might not have the book on hand to sell.

Make your event useful and entertaining to the audience. Give attendees a preview of the next big thing you’re working on. Be prepared with a sales pitch.

Leave behind something for the audience to remember you by—bookmarks, postcards, pamphlets, or gift certificates.

Online contests and giveaways

Everyone loves free stuff. Encourage the creation of user-generated content, including videos, based on information you make available on the Web for free. Offer small advertising banners or badges that readers can download and post on their own sites to help promote your book—or let them design badges for you. Give away copies of your book as prizes for informal contests.

Some authors are taking the lead by publishing the full text of their books on the Web, insisting that doing so increases sales. If you own the copyright, you can do this yourself or authorize it through services like Google Book Search Books Partner Program and WOWIO.

Learn more

As always, feel free to share your suggestions and comments. This is a vast topic, which I’ve covered only superficially in this post.

Previously Posted
Part 1: Online social networking for authors
Part 2: Special online social networks for authors
Part 3: Managing your online identities
Part 4: Launching a book’s website
Part 5: Starting an author’s blog
Part 6: Book reviewers on the Web

Next in the Series
Part 8: Book video trailers

4 thoughts on “Part 7: Free publicity for book authors

  1. Robin Mizell

    Here’s the October 8 news from Media Predict:

    “Media Predict and Touchstone Books, an imprint of publishing company Simon & Schuster, Inc., today announced that Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell is the grand prize winner of Project Publish, a book contest originally launched on May 21.”

  2. seetarn

    Myself Seeta Rajesh Nawagekar

    Thank you so much for such a detailed insight on the steps for promoting ones book. Have kind of done several of these, but have to do more…thanks to your valuable inputs…

    I’ve recently written a self help book titled ‘The Cup of Life-A journey towards self contemplation’ its available on amazon.

    Looking forward for your kind inputs. For more information on me, you can visit http://www.seetarn.com thanks…

  3. seetarn

    Thanks Robin..this is indeed indepth…and quite a repository of information…great work my friend…sure would love to have a tour…thanks…

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