Kew Publicity

Publicity campaigns for books, authors and businesses

How to market a book

So, after months of tapping away in the attic room, locked away from the family for hours on end, a self-appointed social pariah, the book is written.   You’ve sweated over the title, agonised over whether to dedicate it to your partner, your favourite uncle, or the dog, and now all you need is someone to read it.  Well, preferably several thousands of people, or even millions, if you are setting your sights up with E L James and Jamie Oliver.

You may be one of the lucky few with a deal at a top publisher who has money to spend on marketing your book, and a hover of publicists to magic up column inches for you, but for most writers finding an audience for your magnum opus is going to be your next full-time role.   But, where do you start?  Here are a few tips.

Who Is Your Audience?

Assuming you are not already a household name, or the leading expert in your field with a ready-made audience, you are going to have to work hard to market your book.  So, first ask yourself who is your audience?   Okay.  I know your sister will read it, and your mum will probably buy 20 for Christmas presents, even if it is a potted history of garden gnomes, but be realistic.

Have you identified a niche in the market that no one else has covered?  Is your book based on experiences that you believe will be of interest to others?   Is it a novel that will have strong appeal to sports fans, or a historical romance that could be marketed for Valentine’s Day?

Whether you have written a work of fiction or non-fiction, try jotting down some keywords about your book. This will help you define your book’s audience and identify possible markets.

For example, if you have written a crime thriller set in the world of haute couture and featuring a female detective, with the action taking place in London, Paris and Milan, then your keywords could be Crime, Women, Fashion, Luxury, London, France, Italy.  So, although your primary target is readers who enjoy crime novels, you should also be looking for reviews and features in fashion and glossy lifestyle magazines, London publications, and even magazines aimed at travellers to France and Italy – there are several specialist journals in these areas.

The keywords for a book based on your experiences of running an orphanage in Uganda in the days of Idi Amin may include Human Interest, African History, Politics, Social Science, and Third World; there are specialist journalists and publications covering these areas that you can find online.  Feature pages of newspapers and women’s magazines may be interested in an article, and if you are of a certain age, look to the over 50s magazines, too. Once you have done this then it’s time to get yourself out there and start telling people about your book. Of course, there are plenty of professional book publicists you can employ to help you do this, but there is a lot that you can do yourself.

Get Ahead of the Game

How Do I Get My Book Reviewed?

Getting Yourself in the Media

SUMMARY

Marketing a book from scratch is never going to be easy.  As budgets are tightening at publishing houses, and more authors follow the self-publishing route, then pro-actively promoting the book is going to be as necessary to the writer as the plot itself.  Yes, it helps if your publisher has money to spend but it’s not a shoe-in for the bestsellers’ list, and there are many success stories from small independent publishing houses, while the phenomenally successful Fifty Shades series was originally self-published.  (There have also been self-published books on the shortlists for annual awards such as the William Hill Sports Book of the Year and the CMI Management Book of the Year.)

If you want to reach as wide an audience as possible embracing social media is likely to be the best way to go.  Do not bury your head in the sand about this.  Find a course, read about it on the web, or borrow a friend’s teenager, but learn how to be part of the twittering classes and make space in your life for some online interaction.

Finally, when you set out on the writing road don’t expect to find yourself the leading light in the literary world without some hard graft on your part, even if you have the backing of a top publisher.  There is much you can do to help yourself and, if you need a reminder of some of the best ways to reach readers think LAMP ….

L ….   LINK-UP with like-minded people

A….   Know Your AUDIENCE

M….  Understand Your MARKET

P….    Be PREPARED

Success may not happen overnight but if you make an effort with your marketing at least you won’t be sitting there thinking if only I had done more.

Jane Beaton is the Director of Kew Publicity. Contact: jane@kewpublicity.co.uk