Book Marketing and Publicity
Worldwide approximately 2.2 million books, over 300,000 of those in the United States, are published every year! In order for your book to effectively reach its audience, we need to strategize to get the word out and get the project into people's hands, minds, and conversations. The following contextualizes our efforts, and outlines items to please make special note of or deliverables we'll need from you to keep things moving.
Marketing and publicity should begin the moment we agree that np: will publish the book. Please start telling as many people as you can about the project and link folks to the book page on our website. It is often the time between first agreeing to publish the book and its actual release, as well as the year or two after the release, where the project will have the most buzz and find the bulk of its sales and distribution. We'll aim to make the most out of these time frames.
Please note that you're always welcome to hire a publicity firm specifically for the book, or consider (if possible and appropriate) a subvention from your school or university to enhance any of the efforts mentioned here.
We create a web page for the book, on the np: site, that can serve as an easy and searchable reference point for anyone looking for general information. There are three primary components of this page—cover, descriptive copy, and author bio/pic—each of which will find its way into almost every appearance of the book going forward. Thus we should focus on these immediately. Please provide the following:
1. Cover image suggestion: We design the cover and may want to suggest a different image, but do you have a cover image in mind? Please let us know. (Please keep image rights in mind.) Please consider other covers you think work particularly well, to give a sense of general direction. We regret that we do not have funds for cover art.
2. Descriptive text: Please provide a short description of your book in simple, non-technical language that will be understood by potential buyers, sales staff, and booksellers. Say what the book is about. What's the hook? What is its main purpose, its importance or contribution as you see it, and how (if appropriate) does it differ from the competition? Don’t be afraid to state what would be obvious to specialists in your field. (200 word maximum)
3. Biographical statement and photo: Please provide a brief biographical statement for each author or editor of the work, including current professional affiliation, previously published books, and any other information you feel is important in the promotion of the book. Please also provide an author photo, with photographer credit if needed.
We will send this information to our distributor, Small Press Distribution (spd.org), and they will immediately list the book as forthcoming and be sure information is circulated through all major channels, including Amazon and the like. They can also begin to think about how the work aligns with other marketing campaigns they might have active.
Once we have a web page and send information to our distributor, we will then begin to mention the book as forthcoming whenever that seems appropriate, in our weekly or monthly email blasts, at conferences we might attend, or in online or print advertising.
Pre- and post-publication efforts
There are two main types of publicity we need to keep aware of: (a) pre-publication/advanced, which is anything that can happen before the book releases and does not typically include sales (though our distributor can accept back orders any time after they list the book), and (b) post-publication, or anything that can only happen once the work is released and where having an actual, purchasable copy is key. Please keep in mind that anything that happens pre-publication can usually also happen or continue happening post-publication.
Good pre-publication activities
Blogging 1: your blog. if you have a blog, consider posting about the forthcoming book as often as possible. You could write about the book overall, certain parts of it, include excerpts, or link to related material. If you don't have a blog, consider starting one! Blog posts are excellent for in-depth engagement with your project and can be linked to easily via other social media accounts.
Blogging 2: other people's blogs. This can be an excellent source of pre-publication publicity and conversation around your work. Let active bloggers know your work is forthcoming and offer to send them either the full manuscript in Word or PDF proofs (when ready).
Blogs are also excellent for interviews. Given quick media cycles, keep in mind that advanced or pre-publication material on your project should ideally happen either regularly or reach a critical mass right around the time the work becomes available, so that people can get the book right away or soon after a blog posts, and so they don't forget about it!
Facebook: The primary Facebook activity will likely be your own Facebook page, if you have one. You could also purchase a Facebook ad for the book, a not uncommon process that provides metrics and ways to assess how many people have been reached.
Twitter: actively posting about the book and any related topics on Twitter is a good way to engage the topic continuously and substantively without some of the expectations associated with Facebook. If you use Twitter at all you're probably already doing this. But now it's also possible to mention your forthcoming work, link to it in some way, and find productive ways to anticipate the release. With both Facebook and Twitter, as with blogging, posts that other people make about your project are extremely helpful.
Instagram and other outlets: again, whatever you're comfortable with is great. Similar guidelines to the above.
Podcasts: Participating in or running a podcast is excellent way to get the word out about the book.
Web site: be sure to feature the book on your website and any sites you might have access to (for instance, a department website at your university).
Blurbs: Comments about the project from other people are useful on a number of levels and we encourage you to seek them out as much as you can. If we have even a sentence or two from a high profile person then that both ensures that they actually know the project and enables us to get the attention of various audiences that might not otherwise pick the book up. Comments can be included on the print book but, almost more significantly, be posted to the web and linked to in our various outlets. Ideally, each book should have two kinds of blurbs—the first helps the book reach its natural audience, and the second helps the book find new audiences.
Please put together a list of people who might say some kind words about your book. We’d like to end up with three or four usable blurbs. In some cases, that might mean calling a few friends; in others it might mean contacting a number of people.
We do ask that authors themselves contact potential blurbers and send them a Word manuscript or proof PDF.
Timing for blurbs: you'll want to start the process immediately, but for a comment to actually appear on the book we will need the blurb at least 12 weeks before publication.
Video: Please consider supplying or making a video that either introduces, discusses, or performs the work. A link to videos currently on the web is also helpful.
Previous reviews: Copies of reviews of your previous books and interviews/articles that discuss you or your work provide great material to link to and describe your work to others. They will also help with new ad and catalog copy, and they make effective enclosures when sending out review copies of your new book.
All this being said, we're sure we have not exhausted the possibilities for getting the word out before publication. Please keep thinking and innovate! Doing something that's never been done before is also very much recommended!
Good post-publication activities
Again, anything pre-publication can typically continue post-publication.
Note: Books for all events should please be ordered through our distributor, Small Press Distribution (spd.org).
Readings / Tour
Readings are a visible way that you can help promote your book. Can you arrange for readings in your local area? Do you have any personal contacts at local bookstores or other venues? At venues in other cities? If you are willing and able to bear the expense of traveling beyond your hometown area, arrange events at as many venues as possible. Keep in mind any trips that you were planning to make—can you stay a few more days for readings? If you are in a position to pay your own traveling expenses, where are you willing to go, and when? What other writers who might be doing the same might you be able to team up with?
Depending on your project, it might make sense to arrange a lecture or talk, at a university, conference, gallery, or some other venue, either as its own event or as part of a larger event.
Do you have any panel discussions scheduled that might deal with the area your project is in and where you might mention or feature the project? Also consider whether it might be possible to arrange a panel specifically about your project, or about a closely related topic. The panel could take place at a conference or at a venue that might accommodate such an event, like a bookstore or gallery.
If you are attending conferences, consider taking copies of your book to give away or simply for discussion. There is also a chance that np: might be at the conference, in which case we should try to organize a reading, talk, or panel of some kind. Please let us know what conferences you are planning to attend.
Review and Publicity Copies
Outside of all of the material mentioned above, getting copies of the finished book out there is very good. But we'll want to have an effective strategy for doing so, give the expense of printing and mailing.
Very early in the process and through the book's life, we recommend keeping a list of where you believe the printed book should go, which means whom you believe will quite definitely print or write a review of some kind.
Keep on hand all useful contact information, and be sure it is updated and active. You should have complete physical mailing address and email address, if not also phone number and social media accounts.
For those who might write a review of any kind, we would like to explicitly confirm that they will do so. Please go ahead and actively contact people and outlets you believe might be interested.
Ideally a review will be written using the PDF alone, though with a confirmed plan to write a review we will mail a complimentary copy. We can also send PDFs to prospective reviewers.
We are sorry but we cannot mail copies outside of the United States, due to the expense. Hopefully in these situation a PDF will suffice.
Once the book is printed and you have confirmed reviewers, or otherwise crucial publicity contacts, np: can mail 20 copies (again, domestically). Please provide a list in Word, using the following format:
City, State ZIP
When compiling your list of review and publicity contacts, people you'd like to know about the book, and publicity plans in general, including your own email and social media efforts, and in select cases mailing a physical copy of the book, please consider the following:
All institutions, professional organizations, government bodies, companies, societies, etc., to whom your book would be of interest or with whom you are involved.
Please consider any organizations you know of whose membership might be particularly interested in your book. (Small special interest organizations are often the most useful.)
Consider your list of family, friends, teachers, and students who should know about the book. Also consider booksellers, reviewers, teachers, etc.
Please consider any organizations or publications that might list your book or review it in a newsletter or journal.
Consider local bookstores, specialty stores, or venues.
Professors and course adoptions
Consider people you know in the academic world who might use your book in a classroom setting, or who might find funds for a reading or workshop presentation.
Please consider any national or regional awards, or awards for books on a topic that your book covers.
np: markets books by maintaining contact with reviewers across the country; and by working with our distributor to reach bookstores; by sending email; exhibiting at conferences; by helping to schedule readings; and sometimes by placing a limited number of ads. Ads are expensive and money is scarce. But consider where you would most like to see your book advertised. (If you can arrange for free ads in any publication, please do so.)
Pre and post-publication interviews and features online, in newspapers, magazines, and on the radio are obviously very helpful in marketing your book. Consider any contacts you may have at the newspaper in the town where you live, or where you once lived. Consider any publications that might do a major feature on you and your work. Any alumni publications that might list, or feature your book? Any radio/podcast or tv programs on which you have appeared, or interview programs you would like to approach?
What Did We Forget?
The media universe is ever-shifting! What have we forgotten? What are we not aware of? We hope you'll share with us the sense that so much of any project is a work-in-progress and stay open to learning, experimentation, and continued re-thinking as we support and promote your project on an ongoing basis.
We want to thank you for publishing your book with np:. We are looking forward to working with you on your book!