I am currently in the middle of a big book campaign for a client. It’s one of many book campaigns I have done over the years that falls into the “Advice, How-to, Lifestyle” sector. Let me first clarify—all of my clients have publishers, but these tips can work for someone who has self-published too. The big thing to know with books is that your publisher is likely not going to do as much for your book promotion as you think they will. A lot will fall on you and your book publicist—if you chose to hire a book publicist independently. While I’m specifically talking about advice, how-to, lifestyle books (such as cookbooks or interior design), some of these ideas will still work for fiction. While there are obvious book promotion ideas such as emailing your friends, asking for reviews, and posting to your social media, below are 5 free ways to promote your book that not only work, but that I am doing now with clients.
- MAKE FRIENDS: The minute you set out to write a book is the minute you should start networking with people who are doing or have done what you want to do. If you are writing a cookbook, for example, you need to start meeting other people who have done it. How do you do this? By promoting them first. If you have a blog, start there. Link to their recipes, their books, their blog posts. Tag them on social media, comment on their Instagram, respond to their tweets with helpful advice. Just keep in mind that genuine goes far and building authentic relationships is the ultimate goal. Hopefully, by the time your book comes out, you will have an entire network of friends who will promote you to their audience that is already in line with what you are doing. I do recommend starting with people who are still trying to grow their audience too. While I always think you should aim high, you probably shouldn’t start trying to befriend famous, best-selling authors just yet. That day will come.
- GO LOCAL: It’s much easier to get a segment on a local news station than it is a national one. The catch-22 with television is that usually the producers will ask to see “tape,” which is entertainment lingo for an example of you on video. If you have never done television, it’s a great idea to start making videos talking about the topics you address in your book—even if you just film them on your iPhone and post to social media. That way you have something to show. Just remember that if you have a how-to book or a cookbook, you need to pitch a segment that is more than just talking about the book. It needs to demonstrate your expertise and offer concrete takeaways.
- SCHEDULE EVENTS: More than likely—especially if you are a first time writer—your publisher is not going to pay for you or even help you book a tour. Start in the cities that you have some sort of connection with, whether it’s your childhood home, your current home, or a place you know well. Do some research to see what types of stores are in that area. Big box retail stores like Anthropologie and West Elm do lots of book events, but there are even small local stores that cater to book signings. For example, I recently booked my client at a bookstore in Seattle that only sells cookbooks. It was the perfect audience and market for her new cookbook, and she had no prior relationship with the store or even the city. Face time really makes an impact and gives you an opportunity to convert strangers to huge fans. You can read about a book signing I did with a former client for her book launch here.
- LISTEN UP: Podcasts are super hot right now, and they have the ability to really hit a niche market that cares about what you are doing. Many bloggers and entrepreneurs have started podcasts and are constantly looking for guests that can give their expert opinion. Networks like Podcast One represent numerous different podcasts across all sectors, so make a list and start working on your pitch. What can you offer their listeners? If people are drawn to what you have to say, they will surely want to buy your book.
- FACEBOOK LIVE: As social media turns more and more to video and live streaming, bloggers and companies need help creating content. Look for bloggers in your field that regularly do Facebook Live chats and pitch yourself to do a Facebook Live with their audience. I’ve seen this done in a Q&A style, as well as live demonstrations. While this is not the same thing as getting a book review in a major magazine, you will be connecting with a new audience and positioning yourself as an expert.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of doing this yourself? Let me help. My PR firm has done numerous book launches for New York Times bestselling authors, and first time authors. Set up a time to chat!