While You Wait...
by Wendy J Woudstra
There comes a time in the process of book publishing where the author feels like there's nothing to do but wait for the finished book to arrive. There are, however, plenty of things authors can do during this period to give their book promotion efforts a head start.
1) Contact the person at your publishing company who will be handling publicity for your book.
Ask them if there's any information you can provide that will help them out. Let them know that you are planning to contact your local media, libraries and associations, and find out what sort of updates, if any, they'd like to get about your progress and coverage.
2) Start collecting contact information for the daily, weekly, arts, and specialized newspapers in your area.
I live in a pretty small town, and it boasts two weekly papers for the town itself, as well as one that covers news in the surrounding area. All three print notices of books published by local authors, book signings and other events in the area. Large cities often have weeklies for specific neighborhoods and suburbs. There are also specialized business weeklies in many towns, as well as newspapers targeted toward specific age or ethnic markets in larger cities. Start a collection of addresses, phone numbers, faxes, and journalists who cover arts and book events. Once you've tackled your local town or city, move on to nearby towns and do the same. Even if you live in a rural area, you should be able to come up with a reasonably impressive list of names and numbers that you'll be able to send press releases and event announcements to.
3) Make a list of groups, organizations and associations you belong to.
Whether you're a member of a writers group, the chamber of commerce, or the local naturalist club, list any organization that might be able to announce in their newsletter that one of their members has published a new book. It's a good idea to make a note of when each newsletter comes out, so you can get some idea of when it would be best to send them information. You'll want to send each organization a note just in time to get published in the newsletter that will be sent out right after your book is available in bookstores.
4) Contact your local libraries and bookstores.
Let them know you've got a new book coming out, you live in the area, and would love to hold a reading, book signing or other event at their location. Some will respond better than others, but generally you'll find local libraries are receptive to local authors that are published by traditional (non-vanity, non-POD) publishers.
5) Create and design handouts for events, downloads for your web site.
If you're a novelist, consider creating a reading group guide for your book. If you've written a non-fiction book, come up with tip sheets or checklists based on the material. Be sure to include order information on each page. You can then hand these out at any book signings or events you do, and upload them in PDF format to your website for readers to download.
6) Write press releases for local media.
You can either come up with a press release on your own, or have your publicist write one with you or for you. Be sure to emphasize the local angle. Mention you are a resident, how long you've lived in the area, and any local signings or events you've arranged.
7) Consider creating other print materials to help you get the word out
Some authors have created their own brochures to place in libraries and bookstores they visit. Others have gotten business cards printed using the cover graphic of their book. You can also try postcards and posters if they are appropriate to your book and you can find a printing source that's not overly expensive.
8) Create a web site promoting your book.
Include information about you, book excerpts, copies of the press releases you've sent out, a schedule of appearances, and the downloadable documents you've created. Be sure to include your URL on any future press releases and promotional material you send out too!
9) Promote yourself and your book on-line.
Submit your new web site to Google, the Open Directory Project, and other major search engines. Join discussion groups related to your topic, and make sure you add your URL and book title to your email 'signature', so you'll be promoting your book every time you send an email. There are also lots of sites on-line that interview authors of fiction and non-fiction. Find out how to get interviewed, or perhaps get your book reviewed by these venues. Consider creating 'So you'd like to...' and 'Listmania' book lists at Amazon.com that include your title.
10) Keep your publicist in the loop.
Be sure to collect extra copies of any clippings from articles and interviews your efforts generate to send to your publicist. Also let him know of any book signings or readings you've arranged. Often, you'll find that the more your publisher sees your efforts pay off, the more time and money they'll be willing to expend to promote your book.
by Wendy Woudstra