One of the best ways to generate buzz for your book is to provide advance copies to reviewers before publication. In this article, we highlight some of the early reader programs that marketers rely on to help get the word out about your book.
We are keenly aware that word-of-mouth is a tried and true book marketing technique. The best book recommendations often come from our friends, our family, and the influencers we follow. With this in mind, Penguin Random House works with several early reader programs to reach consumers in the book-loving community and beyond, so they can help us spread excitement for your book’s release to the world. By distributing copies to reviewers, we help build anticipation before publication and work to make your book the next great read that readers can’t wait to get their hands on.
NetGalley is a platform that enables readers to request and download digital galleys and review them for their peers. The platform tends to be genre-focused and is frequented by booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and bloggers. Publishers have the ability to send eBlasts to NetGalley members to encourage prepublication requests and downloads of titles.
Usually, reviewers request a galley of your book, and the person running your book’s NetGalley campaign will approve a certain number of requesters to receive a copy for review. The site holds its users accountable for their requests—they can be penalized for not reviewing a free copy they receive. That can mean their reviewer score (which is publicly visible on the site) might drop or that we might choose not to approve their future requests.
NetGalley comes in handy for librarians too. Librarians make their buying decisions based on early reads—especially for first-time authors. Early reads can help build buzz in the library marketplace, which leads to increased buys as well as more word-of-mouth recommendations from librarians to readers. At PRH, our Library Marketing team has a monthly eBlast that highlights key titles. Additionally, early reads allow librarians to vote titles onto the LibraryReads list, which is emailed to more than 21,000 librarians and has been shown to increase both initial and long-tail buys.
Similar to NetGalley, Edelweiss is an eGalley platform, but it’s intended primarily for people within the book industry, like booksellers and librarians. Because of its industry-heavy user base, Edelweiss provides richer content for each book than other early reader programs, including marketing highlights, tour information, sample page spreads, and more.
First Look Book Club
First Look Book Club is a free daily email excerpt program, sponsored by Penguin Random House and run through a website called Dear Reader. The daily emails provide excerpts of upcoming titles to give readers a glimpse into books that are close to publication.
First Look features a different book each week, and several pages of the book are sent in the email blast each day. By the end of the week, readers have received about the first thirty pages, and they are then encouraged to either buy or borrow the book. This is an effective way of generating buzz, as the book club has a wide reach, with more than 15,000 subscribers. Readers can sign up to join the subscriber list here.
Goodreads is a tried and true path to getting books into the hands of many readers, and one of the best ways to do that is through their giveaway program. Goodreads users can browse the dedicated giveaways page to find giveaways to enter; if they follow specific authors they love, they will immediately be notified when those authors conduct giveaways. While no one is guaranteed to win a galley, this program still generates anticipation for soon-to-be-published books and adds a level of excitement for contestants.
Since our last profile of Goodreads, they have added ebooks to their giveaway program, along with the original physical copies. This means giveaway winners can now receive their copy of your book immediately, building in more time for review and more time before publication to spread the word.
You can build your own giveaway campaign here.
Other Ways of Spreading the Word
In addition to these traditional routes, our marketing teams have other ways of introducing readers to your books as well.
PRH’s Library Marketing group produces seasonal excerpt samplers that are distributed in libraries nationwide. These printed booklets feature forthcoming titles, and librarians hand them out to library patrons to encourage early reads and prepublication holds. We send large packs of these samplers to libraries, and also widely distribute them digitally.
Our marketing groups also employ digital excerpt samplers. These booklets are available online and feature several pages of content from a variety of upcoming books. The samplers are easily read on a tablet or other device and are a quick and easy way to get early readers excited about certain genres. We regularly create Debut Fiction samplers, Fandom samplers, and more.
With all these programs and strategies, we take an active role in bringing your upcoming title to the attention of book lovers at the early stages, building momentum that we can use to market the book upon publication. After all, our goal is to ensure we make your book someone’s next great read.
Neda Dallal is Associate, Publishing Development and Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.