Adler & Robin Books Literary Agency Presents

How to Promote Your Book

by Bill Adler, Jr.

Who's Who at the Agency
Book Writing Guidelines
Most Asked Questions of Literary Agents (The Literary Agent FAQ)
Pointers about publishing contracts

(This just in:  My new book, How to Negotiate Like a Child:  Unleash the Little Monster Within to Get Everything You Want was selected by The Houston Chronicle as one of the 10 "most significant business titles of 2005."  I would be utterly and completely remiss if I didn't promote my book on my own website.  Lesson #1:  Promote your book wherever you can.  After all, you're reading this.)

I used to believe that publishers knew best--and did best--when it came to promoting books. Most publishers publicize their books--most of the time. But with differing degrees of enthusiasm and effectiveness.

I am convinced that it is no longer a matter of whether or not an author should promote his or her book, but how aggressive we authors should be about promoting our books. The answer is as aggressively as possible. Publishers often fail to promote books, and if you, the author, won't promote your own book then it may be destined to a lifespan between that of butter and yogurt, to paraphrase Calvin Trillan. The author's efforts may make the difference between a book becoming a long-lived seller, and being recycled so that some other author can take advantage of the paper.

What to do then? Generalizing about promoting books has drawbacks, of course, because every book is different and requires its own special approach. So, as you read this article consider your audience.

And that's a good place to start--your audience. Presumably, your book is aimed at a particular market or markets. Perhaps that is aviation, parenting, health, travel, mystery fans, or nature. The first thing you should do is to track down the magazines that are read by the people who will be reading your book. For example, if you've written a book about how to be a forgiving parent, then those magazines include Parenting and Child. If your book is about flying aces from World War II, then those magazines include WWII magazines, but also publications like Flying.

But don't just send a press release (more on what form to use later) to the publication. Find the editor who reviews books or who covers the subject


Bill Adler, Jr on The Rosie O'Donnell Show
promoting his book, Outwitting Squirrels. Rene
Russo is with them.

that you've written about. Unless your press release makes a soft landing on the desk of the person who might write about your book, it's a good bet that the wrong person will just toss your release in the garbage. So man the phones and find the name--or names--of the right individuals at those magazines. Getting reviewed in a niché publication is well worth the effort because people who read that magazine are predisposed to buy your book.

Next tackle the major newspapers. Again, it's important to send your press release to specific individuals, rather than "editor" or no name at all. Most newspapers have editors for a variety of subjects--science, health, sports, lifestyle, travel, and so forth, so find the right person. Don't forget to send your press release to the book review editor, of course. But there are many other places in the newspaper where your book can be reviewed.

Next comes radio stations-radio talk stations to be precise. Mail (or fax) to as many as you can. That usually means purchasing a database of such stations (and their producers or hosts), or hiring somebody to type a database for you. There are several good lists of radio talk shows, including the Gale directory. While most of these directories are in the library, you will probably have to purchase one to make this work. Key in the individual's name, the station's name, and the station's fax number, then let your computer's faxing software do the work overnight. Depending on your long distance company, each station will cost about 20 cents to fax to.

Definitely contact your local television stations. Find out the name of the producer who arranges author interviews, or the reporter who covers the subject that you've written about. (If it's a novel, then look for the lifestyle reporter.) Don't forget cable television.

As you're mailing and faxing to radio stations, newspapers and magazines, pay particular attention to your local media. Writers always have a better shot at appearing in one of their local papers, or on a local station than across the state or in some other state. Most cities have a plethora of small, sometimes free, community newspapers. These papers are often hungry for material, especially if that material is for free.

What to send to the print media and radio stations? For several reasons you don't want to send your book. (The publisher should pay for the shipping of the books.) Instead, send a one or two page release that tells the recipient to call you (or a friend) to schedule an interview or receive a review copy. Pass along any requests for review copies to your publisher--they'll send them out. Whatever you do, don't tell the station to call you to schedule an interview and call the publisher for a copy of the book: The press hates making two calls. You will miss some prospects if you make them do too much work.

I haven't said anything about the national media--Oprah, A Current Affair, and similar shows. There's no question: You should contact them all. Get the name of a producer at each show (they're generalists, so it doesn't matter who) and send them all a press release. Between broadcast and cable television there are dozens of TV talk shows, so there's a very good chance that you'll end up on one of them. Be sure to include Today, Good Morning America, CNN, and other similar programs.

Do you have any friends in the media business? You would be surprised how hungry --sometimes desperate-- reporters, television producers and radio hosts are for guests. Call your friends and let them know that you are available.

When you contact a producer, let that person know that you are available 24 hours a day. (Never turn down a show, even if it's at 2am.) Often shows receive last minute cancellations, and if the producer knows you are available, you may get a call.
Whatever else you do, you should saturate the media.

More, in depth information about how to promote your book.

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FAQ about publishing.
Outwitting Squirrels page
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General Book Writing Guidelines

How to write a computer book proposal
How to write a trade book proposal
Who's Who at Adler & Robin Books, Inc.
Book Writing Guidelines
Most Asked Questions of Literary Agents (The Literary Agent FAQ)
Pointers about publishing contracts
Sample author collaboration agreement
Report on book banning.
A sample nonfiction book proposal (Tell Me a Fairy Tale)
A second sample nonfiction book proposal (Your Second Pregnancy)
A third sample nonfiction book proposal. (Bottlefeeding Without Guilt)
A sample computer book proposal. (ActiveX)
Another sample computer book proposal (Linux)
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How to Promote Your Book