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Most of us work so hard to write a book and get it published that when it is finally released, we expect spectacular sales to follow. From the day your book is published, it has an average of six weeks to earn its keep on bookstore shelves before it is removed for good. Every spine you see in a bookstore is a valuable piece of real estate. If it doesn’t sell, it’s gone. I don’t mean to discourage you about the six-week window of opportunity for your book to make it; rather, this statistic helps you see that you need to be fully committed to the marketing of your book—especially when it’s first published.


According to Bowker, nearly 275,000 titles are published every year in the U.S. by traditional publishers—that’s 753 new titles every working day.


Authors and publishers frequently say that 90% of a book’s success is due to author promotion. For those who are now putting together a book proposal, it’s important to create an exceptional marketing, author promotion, and publicity plan for your book to ensure the book will last beyond the six-week period.


The rest of the newsletter is devoted to miscellaneous marketing ideas I’ve collected over the years that I have found to be helpful. Many of the following ideas were offered by literary agent Michael Larsen at the Maui Writers Conference.


Important items for making a book a bestseller:

1.      Your own efforts on behalf of your book—be a tireless promoter!—the author’s drive and push is terribly important;

2.      Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of promotion;

3.      Booksellers are incredibly important—they hand sell a lot of books. Do lots of events so booksellers will become familiar with your book;

4.      Reviews help (plus, other reviewers look at existing reviews for ideas)—Publishers Weekly reviews only 6,000 books/year;

5.      Be alert to current events that might complement your book.

6.      Newsworthy-serialization;

7.      Quality of the book;

8.      Create success regionally and build to a national level (get booksellers & reviewers behind your book; get people talking about it);

9.      Publicity—ask your publisher’s publicity director for suggestions on how you can complement the publisher’s efforts;

10.  Powerful endorsements can sometimes help;

11.  Luck or fate (President Bush carrying a copy of your thriller as he’s getting on Air Force One).


Bestsellers are measured in velocity of sales during any given period (e.g. if your book sold 25,000 copies in one month, you would probably make The New York Times bestseller list—depending on the relative velocity of sales for other books).


If your book is in the top 2-3,000 at, that’s a great indication your book will be successful.


Publishers spend about $1,200/city to send an author on tour. You need to sell enough books to justify it. Three cities can be covered in one week. Publishers rarely pay for tours other than for their bestselling authors.


Create John Kremer’s 5 x 5 matrix for your book. List five audiences for your book and five ways to reach each audience. Who is the primary audience for your book? The secondary audience? How will you reach them? What magazines do they read? Where do they shop? (John Kremer is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book.)


Which national associations might be interested in selling your book? Refer to for a directory of associations.  If a national organization decides to sell your book, that’s an implied endorsement. If they feature it in a newsletter or magazine, you’ve received free advertising.


For fundraising suggestions, match your book to the organization. Refer to the Directory of Associations for ideas.


Over 7,000 catalogs are published in the United States. Reference sections at libraries have some listings. Or, click on a topic at for additional ideas.


Your publishers first “Launch Meeting” takes place approximately eight months prior to pub date. Make sure you have provided your editor with all the information she needs to make a successful presentation to the sales reps, publicity, subsidiary rights, and foreign rights people. Have you found any new information about the book’s marketability since the time your book was acquired?


Write sample feature stories about yourself and your book; send them to your publisher’s publicity dept—this will give them some ideas of personal pitches for the media.


Let the publisher know what you’re willing to do. A self-financed tour? Are you willing to hire an independent publicist to work in conjunction with the publisher? Publishers do appreciate authors who are willing to invest some of their advance money in publicity. While this amount varies, first-time authors should consider investing 1/3 of their advance money in publicity activities.


You must follow through on what you’ve promised to do in the marketing and publicity sections of your proposal. If you don’t, publishers may transfer their marketing dollars to another book.


If you’re going to visit an area, but haven’t allowed enough time to set up an event (4-5 months), call booksellers two weeks in advance and tell them you’d be happy to sign stock. This advance notice will give them time to order books.


Inform your publisher of special sales ideas throughout the whole book process, from acquisition to publication. “Special sales” are places where books are sold outside of a bookstore environment. Examples include specialty stores such as a hardware chain for a home remodeling book.


When you send a review copy, Dan Poynter advises pasting a “review slip” inside the book, so the contact info doesn’t inadvertently fall out of the book. See his Self-Publishing Manual for a sample review slip.


At Book Expo America, visit the foreign booths to show them your book and see whether they think people in their country would be interested in such a book. If so, let your agent know.


The following are three excellent books for additional book marketing ideas:


1001 Ways to Market Your Book by John Kremer

Jump Start Your Book Sales by Marilyn and Tom Ross

Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, and Michael Larsen



I provide many marketing, promotion, and publicity ideas to augment book proposals with my book proposal evaluation service. To learn more about this service, click on:


© 2010 June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA 98370


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