The leadup to the publication of your book is an exciting time, but it can also leave you with a lot of questions. In this article, we list some top tips for how to promote your book in the months leading up to its launch.
1. Update your website
Your website should be a one-stop shop for all the information readers could possibly need to know about your books—and this information should be clear, concise, and up to date. In the leadup to your launch, go through your website and make sure you’ve updated all your bios, added contact information, included links to your social media profiles, checked that your book descriptions are accurate, and provided easily accessible buy/preorder links. If those links add too much clutter to the page, we suggest linking to your penguinrandomhouse.com page, where readers can choose whichever retailer they prefer.
Not sure how to organize the information on your site? Check out this timeless resource, How to Refresh Your Author Website, for some more website-related tips.
2. Maintain your social media presence
Keep your social media bios up to date and make sure all profiles link to your website. Post consistently to your preferred social media platform(s) when possible, though all of your posts don’t have to be focused on your book. Readers may find you because of your books, but they want to learn more about the human behind the writing, too!
This is also a good time to close outdated social media accounts or ones you don’t want to continue using. When your book comes out, you’ll hopefully have many new fans looking for your online presence, and having outdated social media profiles can put an unnecessary obstacle between those new fans and you. Remember, you don’t have to be on every platform, just the ones that make sense for you and your books.
3. Consider starting a newsletter, podcast, or blog
If it makes sense for your book or your brand, consider starting a newsletter, podcast, or blog. Whether you want a place to write essays, talk about what’s going on in the world, share ancillary materials, or provide writing tips to new authors, the year leading up to your launch is the perfect time to start building (or growing) your following.
4. Practice your pitches
Talking about your book might not come naturally to you, and that’s okay. But from promotional events to conversations with friends, you’ll need to know how to pitch your book in some way, and practicing these pitches in the leadup to your launch is key.
Write out a few pitches: a short elevator pitch, a three-line pitch, and a longer book description. Then start rehearsing them. You don’t need to know them word for word, of course, but the more comfortable you get telling your story in a concise, appealing way, the better you’ll feel when you get asked the inevitable question, “So what’s your new book about?”
5. Learn how to create quick promotional images
Adding visuals to your social media content can help your posts stand out in someone’s crowded news feed. Familiarize yourself with free tools to create quick and easy promotional images for your book. Canva is a popular choice, as it’s easy to use and offers templates automatically sized for various social media platforms.
Like the other tips, this is of course optional. Your marketing team will often provide necessary promotional images leading up to your launch, but knowing how to create one yourself can be really helpful for those moments when you get a new blurb or review and want to make a quick graphic for it.
6. Get to know other authors
In the stressful, yet remarkable leadup to your book’s on-sale date, no one else understands what you’re going through quite like another author does. As in-person events have been canceled due to COVID-19, consider connecting with authors more on social media, or take part in the many virtual events that have popped up lately.
If you have other projects to work on, it can also be difficult to stay productive over this stressful, disconnected time. Search for virtual writing groups, join online writing events like NaNoWriMo (a novel-writing month in November that offers support for writers all year long), or get up early and bond with other writers using the hashtag #5amwritersclub on Twitter.
7. Encourage preorders
Preorders can alert retailers and consumers that they should pay attention to your book. From the bookseller perspective, the preorder quantity is a good early indicator of a book’s potential success, and can lead to retailers increasing their initial orders. Because of this, encouraging preorders on your website, in newsletters, on social media, and even to your friends and family personally can be one of the most impactful things you do in the leadup to your launch.
If you’re considering a preorder incentive or campaign, reach out to your marketing team, who can advise and walk you through the pros and cons of marketing campaigns that support preorders.
8. Find a balance and enjoy the process
The publishing process will always have its challenges and stressful moments, and that’s true now more than ever. As we’ve discussed in the past, there are many benefits to creating a healthy working environment wherever you are, and there are also apps and tools that can help with productivity and balance, particularly in these unsettling times.
Finally, remember that publishing a book is a marathon and not a sprint. Be kind to yourself if you’re struggling to keep up, and make sure you take the time to enjoy the exciting moments that come along with the publishing process.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.