This is a post by Laura Pepper Wu
The early bird catches the worm!
In other words, the earlier you start your book promotions the better. Starting 3 months before the book’s release date is recommended in order to sufficiently build buzz, but a solid publicity plan can take up to 12 months.
Focus on quality, not quantity.
If you have 10,000 Twitter followers but none of them pay attention to you or care about you or your message, you are not going to see results. It’s preferable to have fewer fans, but fans who listen and respond to your every word and message. According to marketing whiz Seth Godin, anyone who wants to build a brand, business, or product needs a “tribe” of about 1,000 people to spread the word effectively. Aim for a tight-knit group of solid fans, and you’ll see results.
Get your groundwork done.
Before you start any form of publicity, be sure to be media-ready. This means that you have a defined target audience (TA), marketing message, news hooks, professional author pic, professional book cover, and so on. There is no point reaching out to a book reviewer or reporter asking for coverage when you don’t have the solid foundations in place.
Get a good website with some content (a blog)!
Pencil out a blogging schedule (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or Tuesdays and Saturdays, etc) and get several blog posts written up and scheduled in advance. You are only going to get busier the closer you get to the book release date, so get a head start!
Learn how to use social media… properly.
If you are going to spend 30+ minutes on social media sites each day, be sure you know how to use them effectively. Browsing photos, ‘liking’ statuses, and stalking [insert favorite celebrity here] doesn’t count! Make real connections. Comment on others’ posts with valuable insights. Be informative, provide value, answer questions, and give food for thought. Keep your marketing message in mind. Aim to write tweets that others will want to re-tweet and that will make people think. If you can be funny too, that’s a bonus!
Don’t be afraid to give stuff away for free.
People love freebies. Write a how-to or short story that might interest your target reader and give it away on your site. Collect readers email addresses in return, and you’ll have a list of people to contact when your book is released, when you have an event planned or when your price has dropped. This will be one of your most valuable assets in the future.
Include advance review copies (ARCs/ Galleys) in your budget.
If you don’t have a budget, send out e-copies of your book to sites and reviewers that will accept digital copies. Reviewers love to receive books that are not yet available to the public.
Try to get blurbs (aka endorsements) for your book.
Go big. Ask other authors you respect or admire to read and endorse your book, and don’t be shy! I have found other authors to be some of the most supportive and helpful people in existence. They are real people too!
Organize your launch week well in advance.
There are many things you can do on launch week to start things off with a bang, but many of them need advance organization to be pulled off right. This includes putting together/purchasing a blog tour (bloggers usually like requests 1-2 months in advance), contacting book groups (they usually choose books 3-4 months in advance), inviting friends & family to a signing (even if it’s only at your house!), arranging talks with local groups of interest, sending out a press release, etc.
Submit articles for magazines (local or niche).
Print media usually operate a 3 month lead time, so keep this in mind. You can submit stories or articles to your alumni magazine, local newspaper, or a niche magazine in connection with your story. If your article never gets accepted – print media can be very picky and is much more competitive than online – nothing is lost as you can always use the content for a guest post or on your own blog.
How long do you think is needed for a good promotional plan? Did I miss anything that has worked/ is working for you? I’d love to hear about it!
About this post’s author: Laura Pepper Wu is the founder of LadiesWhoCritique.com, a place for writers to find their perfect critique partner. Writers of all levels are welcome – published, unpublished, aspiring, hobbyists, even closet writers or complete newbies. Men are more than welcome too!