Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, promoting your book is something that will largely come down to you. Big publishing houses have large selections, and can only allocate resources for a short amount of time before needing to move on to the next title, and small publishing houses often just don’t have the same promotional power as the bigger ones. Hiring a book publicist is an option (and if you have the money, it’s certainly worth considering), but it can be expensive.
However, there are ways you can promote your work without breaking the bank, and with the skills you already have. Some of these ideas also help you to become an influencer in your area, whether that be YA fiction, writing craft, or lawn mowing. If you are being traditionally published, make sure you chat to the person who handles marketing and publicity, to make sure that your efforts complement each other.
1. Contact local media
Send a media release to your local media and relevant organisations. Keep it short—no longer than a page. Make sure to include the book cover, title, a short blurb, details about where to purchase the book, and your contact information. Also include details about your launch, or any signing events. Be as polite as possible, and personalise it for each person you send it to.
2. Have a book launch
A launch is like a mini party for your book! It gives you the opportunity to sign books, read a short passage, answer questions, and get the word out there about your book. Ask a local bookstore to host it for you, and if you’re friends with any authors with sway in the local writing community, ask them to introduce you or say a few words about the book at the event.
3. Send your book to relevant reviewers, influencers, and book bloggers
The key here is to send your book to people with an audience who will be interested in your title. While you can’t force a review out of someone, sending a free copy of your book with a nice note is a way to get on the good side of any reviewer. Make sure the people you contact are relevant (and read your genre) and accept books for review before contacting them, and then send them an email to ask if they’re interested.
4. Start a blog of interest to your potential readership
Blogging is your opportunity to create relationships with other influences in your topic or genre, connect with your potential audience, and create content marketing. It gives you the opportunity to provide your audience with something of value, such as a useful blog post, which will give them confidence in the quality of your book. This is best to start ASAP—in some cases, before you’ve even finished the book.
5. Social media it up
Nothing beats genuine connection with other people, which is what social media is. This is where you can build relationships with your audience, curate and share content (which will help you to become an influencer in your area), and respond to real-time events. Young adult writers, for example, might benefit from getting involved in the YA booktubing/book blogging community, and joining in readathons and other book events. In the future, the friends they make could end up reading and reviewing their book, just because they genuinely want to support each other.
6. Speak at events and run workshops (for writers, readers, and your intended audience)
This is a great way to promote your work and, in some cases, make some money on the side. If you’ve written and published or self-published a book, chances are you have a good amount of knowledge in some area, whether that be 19th century history, or how to self-publish a book. Get in touch with organisations relevant to your knowledge or your audience, and see if they would let you run a workshop. Remember that some local libraries or community groups will run free classes on certain topics, so see if your intended audience might be interested in something you can offer.
7. Pitch articles to blogs/magazines/journals your future readers covet
Make yourself easy to find. Imagine your ideal reader—what kind of blogs, magazines or journals do they read? Can you get your work into one of them? Make a plan to pitch your work to relevant publications. Some magazines will offer pay for articles, while smaller magazines might offer you ad space in return for your writing, which is an opportunity to get your book cover and blurb next to your article.
8. Network in your local writing community
Network, network, network! Go to events like writing workshops, book launches and poetry slams. Talk to people and be an advocate for your work. Building connections in your local writing community means building your own cheer squad. Don’t be afraid to approach anyone—most writers are really nice people (albeit, a little crazy), and your writing is the perfect ice breaker.