Book Marketing Secrets for Trade-published Authors


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Your book is published; the family's still celebrating. Why do you get that sinking sensation that nothing is really happening? Face facts: If you're not a household word, your publisher will typically allocate scant time and a minuscule budget to your title. (And if you're self-publishing, PR is a huge component in the overall scheme of things. ) It's the age of celebrity books. Lamenting that situation won't change things; getting involved will. Your personal efforts can dramatically impact book sales!

Make it easy for your publisher's publicity department to cooperate. Present them with a mini-marketing plan. Develop a list of names and addresses of VIPs interested in your subject, information about specialized magazines that reach your buying audience, appropriate newsletter editors, allied associations, and syndicated columnists who write in your field. Share these ideas with your publisher.

Of necessity, publishers move on to promote the books on their current list. But as the author, your interest should never lag. And neither should your PR efforts. If you ask for them, most publishers will be generous with complimentary copies they know you're using to stimulate reviews, get the book mentioned, and glean media exposure.

Radio stations all over the country are hungry for articulate guests who are experts on their subjects, as well as novelists with books whose themes address contemporary issues. You needn't spend a dime on travel; everything is done via phone at the station's expense. Area media are usually responsive to local writers. Send them a brief cover letter, a news release, and a copy of your book.

Before radio, TV, and press interviews, you make sure books are available in area stores. You may need to prod the publishers here. Yearn for an autograph party? Forget it. Only celebrities draw crowds these days. Instead, personally autograph the stock of your books in area stores. These make great gifts and most stores are delighted to affix “Autographed by Author" book stickers.

Bookstores account for less than 52 percent of sales. Why not match your nonfiction title to other retail outlets? The key is synergy: A book on horticulture for nurseries; a mushroom cookbook in gourmet shops; a baseball guide to sporting goods stores. The possibilities are endless once you realize all sorts of places can sell books.

Novels or poetry can find their own niches as well. Independent area book stores usually welcome works by local authors. And those catering to a specific audience—historic novels, mysteries, or non-secular fiction—can be marketed through special-interest catalogs or promoted via readings.

Premium sales mean big bucks because the quantity orders are large. Perhaps a national office supply firm would be interested in your book on secretarial skills, or a camera manufacturer could be persuaded to take a fancy to your title about photography.

Tenacity is a formidable weapon. If a prime review source ideally suited to your title persists in ignoring you, don't give up. We captured a review for one book two years after sending a sample copy. We simply mailed them all the favorable reviews that had appeared elsewhere and tactfully asked why they were depriving their readers of this information.

So if your name isn't Stephen King, Kitty Kelley, or John Gray, you'd be wise to rally ‘round your publisher's marketing personnel, plus take action yourself to promote your book. In today's publishing economy the unknown author must publicize or perish.

© Copyright 2005 Marilyn Ross

Marilyn and Tom Ross are the coauthors of 13 books including the best-selling Complete Guide to Self-Publishing and the award-winning Jump Start Your Book Sales. Through phone consultations and ongoing coaching/mentoring, Marilyn empowers authors and self-publishers to realize their dreams. She can be reached at 719-395-8659 or

Visit for free meaty information on writing, self-publishing, and book marketing strategies.


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