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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When do you Start Marketing Your Book?

Guest Blogger
Carol White
When I can "have it my way" - which isn’t often  - I prefer to work on the book at least 6 months ahead of the pub date – I know, “but my book is coming out next week!” - you really need that much time to get the marketing/distribution/pricing plans together. 

You need to apply to distributors, get their paperwork done, get their sales team representing your book to the chains, the chains place their advance orders, you know how many to print and ship to them, they have to get them in stores - all prior to your pub date. If you aren’t going to use a trade distributor, how are people going to get your book once they know about it? You have to be able to answer that question; and the answer isn’t “from my website” – most people will not buy from an unknown website by an unknown author.

Speaking of websites, a website is another activity that should be done as early as possible - you can use it to begin creating advance buzz for your book, have a media room where the media can learn about your book (cover art, pictures from the book, pub date, etc.) and a place to post your media coverage as it comes in. You can post your Table of contents, a sample chapter, do a blog, and so on - lots you can do to start building that platform waaayyy ahead of the book.

You also need your publicist in place with your media kit to do pre-pub reviewers 3-4 months minimum before pub date (required time), get early copies out to large magazines with long lead times, and then when the time gets closer, do newspapers, blogs, websites, and short cycle magazines. If you don’t hire a publicist, then you need to do these activities.

WHEW!!! See why it takes 6 months? Oh - and YOU have to follow-up on all this to maximize the impact.

My motto: No follow-up = no results
Get your book really ready by following these steps:

1) You need a distribution strategy (whether POD or off-set - just the logistics are different) - how sad is it to create great buzz - and you don’t have your book anyplace where the trade and consumers can get it for your anxious buyers.

2) To engage a trade distributor or even a wholesaler (assuming you are doing print runs) you must have a written marketing plan for them.

3) You have to make sure that your product is top notch - or a publicist won’t take it - their reputation is on the line with every book they recommend to their media contacts. That is what you are really paying for - who they know and how effective they are at placing your book for publicity.

4) You have to make sure that your price is competitive with other books in your genre or no amount of publicity will create the sales that you expect.

5) You need a good media kit for the publicist to use as a basis for the publicity she/he will create for you - or you can pay the publicist or another marketing professional to do that work for you.


Of course all of these steps are predicated on your goals for your project, the amount of resources (time & money) you can devote to your book and any constraints that your life situation imposes on you (don’t want to do live appearances or maybe radio terrifies you, etc.).
So give your book a chance – start early and plan your marketing just as carefully as you planned your words on the page

Carol White is an author, speaker, writer, and book marketing coach.  In addition to co-authoring the best selling, award-winning book, Live Your Road Trip Dream, Carol is a frequent guest speaker at conventions such as the national AARP Life @ 50+ and The Great North American RV Rally.  She is also a published writer for magazines and websites and has spoken about publishing to groups including IBPA’s Publishing University, the Northwest Association of Book Publishers and the Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Assn. She has an active book marketing consulting practice that includes both domestic and international clients.


  1. Many of these are great tips for those of us who self-publish eBooks as well!

  2. Overwhelming, but very helpful! I'm passing this along as well.

  3. Carol White took an innovative idea and turned it into a second career, after she retired! Talk about ingenuity. Listen to her interview to glean real-life examples and the way she has created an award winning book (for marketing), and become a spokesperson for RV centers such as Camping World, among others. Most of the time one book authors have a hard time presenting a product. In Carol's case she understood marketing and publicity (she explains the difference in the interview) and took her book all the way to the top.