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Book Promotion Secrets

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 7, 2017

At SleuthFest, we heard publicist Maryglenn McCombs speak on Seven Secrets to Promoting a Book.


Timing is everything. Coordinate your publicity around the release date. Target holidays if your book has a holiday theme. Ditto for a historical angle. Start your launch campaign at least three months prior to release. Don’t have media coverage or reviews posted until the book is available. Trade media that serves bookstores and libraries is the exception.

Brevity in a short synopsis is an important tool. The synopsis is your book’s advertisement. It should be similar to book jacket copy to entice readers. Write three different lengths: 175 words or less, 100 words or less, and 50 words or less. Create a one-liner soundbite.

A stellar press kit can help you stand out. You need advance reading copies (ARCs) in print and digital formats. Have low and high resolution author photos. Get a professional headshot taken. Make sure your website is polished. Write a press release and a one-page sale sheet that tells about your book and mentions any endorsements. You can include a sample author interview. Have a biography written in third person. Tell where your books can be found but don’t mention specific vendors (i.e. at most major online retailers).

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Identify your target readers. How can you reach them? Three months before release, send ARCs to the trade media. Contact syndicated reviewers, radio/TV media. Plan signings and launch party 6 to 8 weeks ahead. Look at smaller, local media and online venues. “Promotion is a marathon and not a sprint.”

What works?

· Print Media.

· In-person launch parties.

· Steady media coverage.

· Book awards.

· Big endorsements.

· “Best-of” lists.

· Gift guides.

What doesn’t work?

· Radio tours.

· Lengthy book tours.

· Social media caveman tactics.

· Book trailers.

· Mass mailings.

· Asking buyers to review your book.

· Gimmicky promos.

Find people who will review your books. Look at local news sources, community groups where you belong, school alumni, work resources, places related to the book’s setting. See who’s reviewed books similar to yours.

Be polite and persistent when pitching your book. Follow review policies. Never ask for a copy of the review because that shows you don’t follow their publication. Don’t make outlandish comparisons of your work to others.

The most important part of a media campaign is the book. Get a professional, eye-catching cover design. And write the best book you can.

Disclaimer: Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

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16 Responses to “Book Promotion Secrets”

  1. Barbara Flores said

    Greetings from San Francisco – not a Trump voter in sight. Great Promo stuff! I’m sending it (along with praise for your blog) to all my CA authors, students and writing friends.

    *Barbara Flores* Author, Professor, Editor, Graphic Designer For books, food posters, classes, and editing services go to:

    On Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 9:20 AM, Nancy’s Notes From Florida wrote:

    > Nancy J. Cohen posted: “At SleuthFest, we heard publicist Maryglenn > McCombs speak on Seven Secrets to Promoting a Book. Timing is everything. > Coordinate your publicity around the release date. Target holidays if your > book has a holiday theme. Ditto for a historical angle.” >

  2. Nancy,

    This is impressive! It’s also valuable information. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you much success as always.

    • It helps me learn the information and sort it in my mind when I report on workshops I’ve attended. Plus people who couldn’t go can see what they missed. But again, these are my interpretations from my notes.

  3. Julie saum said

    This is very useful information for a beginner . Thank you! Julie Saumsiegle

  4. Well, I’d have to differ with the “length book tour” one having been on three quite long ones with good results 😉 But other than that, very useful info, thanks!

  5. I was wondering why blog tours weren’t mentioned in either the pro nor con columns. I’ve heard differing opinions on their usefulness from agents and editors.

  6. Debbie Price said

    Good information. Thanks for all the hard work you do to write your books. I enjoy them!

  7. Excellent post! Very interesting and intriguing information! I enjoyed learning about both the do’s and don’ts! Thanks!

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