A few days ago, I spoke with two different people who were ready to publish their very first book. They wanted to know how to find a publisher that would handle their book publicity for them.
“Oh, your publisher won’t promote your book for you,” I said.
“Really? I thought the publisher handled all of that!”
“No, not at all. Unless your last name is Grisham or Patterson, your publisher won’t do shit for you.*”
* (Technically, that’s not true. Your publisher handles all editing, page layout, and cover design. You pay for that if you self-publish.)
It’s inescapable: When you write a book, you need to do your own promotion, or you need to hire someone to do it for you. Your publisher won’t do it, your agent won’t do it, your friends won’t do it. (Hell, they’ll barely buy your book!)
And people will not flock to your book just because you wrote it.
Your book may be great, but no one will care.
That’s because there are close to 1 million books published in the US each year. And if you count self-published books, that number is closer to 4 million.
Also, if you do manage to find a publisher, there’s only a 1% chance that your book will reach a bookstore.
Out of the 1 million books published this year, only 10,000 will make it to a bookstore. (My last edition of Branding Yourself was not placed in Barnes & Noble, even though they carried the last two editions plus my other book, No Bullshit Social Media. My publisher said Barnes & Noble just wasn’t a viable partner for them anymore. One of the biggest biz-tech publishers in the country, and they no longer worked with Barnes & Noble.)
So, your book is not going to magically sell just because you wrote it. If it did, we’d all be rich.
Which means you need promotion and publicity.
Absolutely not. If your publisher can put any weight behind the promotional efforts, it will be a few hours of sending a generic press release to all the same media outlets, blogs, and podcasters they send all other book announcements to. And then it’s on to the next book. And the next one. And the next one. And soon, your book is forgotten along with all the others they just promoted.
In fact, when you submit your book proposal or manuscript to a publisher, they’ll want to know the size of your social media footprint and newsletter subscription list. And if it’s not “a lot,” then they won’t publish you. It doesn’t matter if your book is the second coming of Confederacy of Dunces, they will give you a hard pass.
Which means you’re on your own.
Which means — and I cannot stress this enough — you need to do your own book publicity.
Let me say that again but in a bigger font.
You need to do your own book publicity!
If you don’t do it yourself, your book will not get promoted.
Oh sure, you could pay someone to do it, but you won’t get good publicity for less than a few thousand dollars per month.
It’s a question of time versus money: If you don’t have the time, then you need to pay someone to do it. If you don’t have the money, then you need to do it yourself.
Without explaining how to do it all (because there are several good books on the subject (affiliate link)), your publicity efforts should include:
- An email newsletter campaign.
- A social media campaign (Twitter and/or Facebook, plus maybe TikTok).
- A book reviewer/blogger campaign.
- A podcast interview campaign.
- A paid online advertising campaign.
- An email-your-friends campaign. (Email each of them, one at a time, ask them to buy.)
- A convention/conference campaign.
You don’t have to do all of these things, but you need at least two of them — the first two — because they’re the easiest, they can be automated and scheduled, and they’re free. (Sign up for Mailchimp or Moosend; they have free starter options.)
I don’t care if you hate social media. I don’t care if you don’t know how to do an email newsletter. I don’t care if you hate having to email 200 book bloggers one at a time.
You have to do it. You have to do it. You have to do it.
Because your book won’t sell otherwise. Period, end of sentence.
Otherwise, your book will be the greatest thing you’ve ever done that no one will ever know it. You’ll sell it to a few friends and family members, and your partner will secretly buy three copies and give them to friends. But it will be just a tiny drop in 4-Million-Books-Published-Each-Year Ocean.
So let me say it again, but in red: You need to do your own book publicity!
“But I don’t like social—”
I don’t care. Get over yourself.
“But I don’t know how—”
I don’t care. Figure it out.
“But I don’t have the ti—”
I don’t care. Make the time.
I don’t care. Do you know who else doesn’t care?
You need to do book publicity to make them care. You need to promote your book until you’re sick of it. And then you need to promote it some more. And when you think everyone else is sick of it, promote it some more.
Bottom line: You’re going to spend 90% of your time writing your book. And you’re going to spend the other 90% promoting it.
Because if you don’t do it, no one else will. No one will care as much as you. No one is invested as much as you.
You can either pay someone to do it, and they won’t spend as much time on it as you want.
Or you can suck it up and do it yourself.
Because your publisher will not promote your book for you.
All of this is not to discourage you into giving up or not seeking publication. You absolutely should. Submit to agents and publishers and get your book out into the world. You deserve to be published! People should read your work. Just be aware that your work is not done once you write The End. It’s only beginning.
Photo credit: Dimhou (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)