Promoting Your Book

Guest Post by Maryglenn McCombs

Whether you are an experienced author or a new author, you probably know you have to create awareness in order to create demand for a book. To create awareness, you have to promote your book. Some authors prefer to do their own promotion, while others prefer to seek out a publicist to represent them and their book.

What exactly does a book publicist do?

A book publicist’s job is to create awareness for your book, whether through book reviews, articles, feature stories, mentions, or radio and television interviews. Publicists work as a liaison between the author and the media with the goal of generating coverage of an author and his or her work. Publicists who are accustomed to working with books understand how to effectively promote a book, and also understand the importance of timing. Moreover, a good book publicist has strong contacts with the media.

Why should I consider hiring a book publicist?

If you are uncomfortable with trying to promote yourself and your own product, consider hiring a publicist to do the promotion for you. Some authors are terrific promoters but freeze at the thought of trying to promote their own books.  That’s entirely understandable—and extremely common. If you feel uneasy about trying to do your own promotions, by all means:  consider hiring someone else to do it for you.

Also, if your time is extremely limited and you don’t feel you would have the necessary time to devote to effectively promoting your book, definitely consider hiring a publicist. Book promotion can be extremely time-consuming—and even more so if you don’t know where to start.

What do I need to do before I decide whether to hire a publicist?

Whether you decide to do your own promotion or hire a publicist to do the work for you, it’s important that you understand the importance of timing.

Before you start to look for a publicist or put together your own plan of book promotion, you should start by setting a publication date for your book.  There is a great deal of confusion about what a publication date—or pub date—really is.

A pub date is an “official release” —usually at least 6 weeks after a book comes off press. In some ways, this is a phantom date, as it is an approximate date when books will be available in stores. A pub date is an important part of planning a PR Campaign for your books, as it facilitates coordinating media placements and in-store and/or online availability. The pub date functions as a means of tying the book promotion and distribution/availability together.

Regardless of when you decide, or your publisher decides, to set your book’s pub date, just make sure you have plenty of time to lay the necessary groundwork to ensure that your book is a success.

When should I start to look for a publicist?

Start looking for a publicist as soon as possible.  In the book business, timing really is everything. Having plenty of lead time is essential when launching a new book. The PR wheels start to turn long before a book ever makes it to a bookstore shelf. In fact, many PR campaigns begin before the final edits are complete and before the final touches have been made to a book’s cover design.

A great deal of advance planning goes in to the making of a PR campaign for a book.  Unedited bound proofs of a book—called galleys or the ARCs, the acronym for “ADVANCE REVIEW COPIES” —widely distributed before a book is released. These ARCs make their way into reviewers’ hands well in advance of when a book will be available in stores.

Publishers Weekly, one of the leading publishing industry trades, “forecasts” books by providing advance reviews of noteworthy titles. This particular magazine, and many like it, requests that advance review copies be received several months in advance of when a book is in stores.

Longer lead glossy monthly magazines typically operate on a four-to-six month lead time—and sometimes even longer than that. What this means is that December, many magazines are well into working on articles and stories that will appear the following summer.

Here is a sample timeline for a PR campaign for an as-yet-to-be-released book:

6-8 months in advance of pub date (or longer if possible):         

Solicit long lead magazine coverage (glossy monthly magazines, journals, quarterlies)

4-6 months in advance of pub date:           

Solicit coverage with trade/sell-in publications (primarily book and library trade magazines), major reviewers, and larger major national shows. This is also a good time to start thinking about a book launch party, book tour or author events.

1-2 months in advance of publication date and beyond:

Work to obtain shorter lead print media coverage in newspapers, news services, newsletters, internet media, as well as broadcast—radio and television—media

The PR campaign for your book should be centered on when your book will actually be available for purchase.  Media coverage creates demand, and it is extremely important that there be supply to match the demand.

And now, it is time to start creating demand for your book. Enjoy the process.

Maryglenn McCombs is an independent book publicist based in Nashville, Tennessee. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Maryglenn  has worked in the book publishing industry since 1993, and has been involved in the publication and promotion of hundreds of books.  She lives in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, please visit or email Maryglenn at:


Posted on September 14, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Nothing negative is intended against Ms McCombs personally by me herein; however, the concept she outlines, "dances with dinosaurs." *** Please Note (fires black powder cannon: go BOOM!) : the book industry has changed over night, and what was completely valid before…well…it just no longer is.The costs of hiring said "publicist" are out of reach for most writers/authors, but the internet is mostly free, as are many other means of self-promotion. In most cases hiring a publicist would be a waste of money. But each case is different and can certainly be investigated further as to each Author/writer's need and ability to pay.Bottom line: never allow yourself to become discouraged, never give up, never quit, take no crap from Anybody, and write your Dreams!

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