One of the questions I hear most from authors is: “When is the best time to start promoting a book?” The answer is almost always the same: now and yesterday! You can never start promoting a book too early, even if your book isn’t due out for two years from now. Let’s look at why this is and then what you can be doing now to promote your book.
It may be obvious that you want to start building buzz and anticipation for your book before it is published, but what might not be so obvious are the other reasons why you need to start way before it comes out – ideally at least 6 months prior to launch and even longer if possible. Let’s look at some reasons for this.
First, if you want to promote your book to a magazine, keep in mind they are working on 6 month lead times. For example, if your book comes out in June, you need to be sending press to targeted magazines in January. Newspapers and electronic media react quicker, so 4 weeks lead time is ok with them. Online press response can be almost immediate – short as a day or two.
Next you will need time to set up your web page or blog. Yes, you definitely need one unless you already have one. It will take time to create or update your existing site and will serve as “home base” for all your marketing activity. A good basic site will include information about your book, where visitors can buy it, additional products or services your offer, an email capture form, a page about you, a blog, and a contact page.
One of the keys to your long term success as an author is to create a fan base, more commonly known as a database. This is a list of people who are interested in your book, services, other products if you have them, etc. You want to start building your database as early as possible so when your book comes out you have a list of eager buyers. And you want to keep building this list over the years. It is said “He or she with a large mailing list wins” and for good reason. I could go on and on about the importance of having one, but will save that for another article. For now, know that you need one.
The easiest way to get started building a database is with a contact management service like Mail Chimp or IContact. Mail Chimp is free to get started and will let you build your list to 2000 names before they charge you. It is also very easy to use. You will want to integrate this into your web site with some kind of offer attached so when people come to your web page they will see an incentive to “opt-in.”
Social media also important to start early on as this form of promotion also works best over the long term. Think of it as marathon and not a sprint! The early you get started with it more you can connect with others and build your fan base. This form of promotion can be overwhelming, so focus on one or two media and give your time and energy to those. Use social media to drive people back to your website where you can get people to opt in to your database.
Perhaps the best piece of advice I can offer is to create a plan – actually two plans a pre-launch plan and a post launch plan – for 90 -120 days after the launch. Not surprisingly, those authors that have a written plan sell more books than those that don’t. The easiest way to do this is to focus on 90 days at a time. Remember your plan is a guide and can be changed and added to as needed.
Howard VanEs is a book marketing expert and President of Let’s Write Books Inc. a company specializing in book design and marketing services for independent authors. Howard is also the author of 20 of his own books, many of which have been or are number one in their respective categories on Amazon. Full disclosure: I am a proud affiliate of “Let’s Write Books” and, as such, if you let Howard know I sent you, I may receive an affiliate commission when you work with him (this does not change the fees or come out of your pocket). As you probably know, I am very selective about affiliate programs and only choose a select few that I strongly believe in.
Note: Mention this post or Lisa Tener’s newsletter by October 31, 2015 and you can receive a free 20 minute consultation with Howard. [howard @ letswritebooks.net]
Now you know when to start promoting your book and why. What is your next step going to be?
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