How to Promote Last Year’s Book
by Patricia Fry
Most publishers and authors
put a lot of time, energy, and money into book promotion during the first year
after publication. And then what happens? Some of us get involved with other
books. We get back to day jobs. We take a little well-deserved time off. We sit
back and hope to enjoy the fruits of our intense promotional labor.
Over time, last year’s book may
experience sales flurries—Barnes & Noble orders a few copies for
customers; someone reviews the book and Amazon’s sales spike; the author is
invited to speak at the Downtown Lion’s Club and sells books there. But for the
most part, it feels as though the shade has been drawn on your window of
opportunity for book promotion.
Not so. Of course, the best time
to promote a book with gusto is when it is brand new. But there are plenty of
ways to promote it even when it is several years old. That is, unless the
information is time-sensitive. A medical or technological book on the latest
discovery might lose its appeal over time. But most novels, children’s books,
and nonfiction titles should keep on entertaining, teaching, and informing.
How do you promote a more seasoned
book—one that has been around the bookstore a few times? Can you still
get your older book reviewed? Will editors give last year’s book any attention
at all? You’ll be happy to know that the opportunities for publicity do not end
when your copyright is one, two, or even five years in the past. Here are some
ideas for promoting an older book:
new book reviews. Some Web sites
and magazines will review good books no matter the vintage. Locate book-review
Web sites and magazines, but also seek out sites that relate to the theme of
your book. I’m often asked, after a review of my book is posted prominently
somewhere, “How did that reviewer find out about your book?” And I reply, “From
me. I contacted them.”
libraries. Quality Books and Baker& Taylor distribute some of my books to libraries. I spend a couple of
hours every few weeks emailing press releases to tell librarians about a
particular book in my published collection and suggest that they order it from
one of these wholesalers. Inevitably, I notice an increase in sales with my
next accounting from Quality and B&T. Tap into an extensive library
directory at www.ala.org
in tandem with world/country/regional events.<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> Maybe you have a book related to weather patterns.
Certainly, Americans are increasingly interested in weather, given all the freak
and unusual weather occurrences in recent months. It doesn’t matter what your
book’s copyright date is if it relates to something in the news.
in tandem with other books by
including this one in mailings about and displays of newer titles.
seasonal. If you have a book of
stories about famous mothers and daughters, consider promoting it in time for
Mother’s Day. Convince your local newspaper (and maybe papers in other
communities) to run a piece featuring the book, or write something for the
newspaper suggesting a variety of gifts for Mother and including your book on
that list. I accelerate my promotional activities for my book <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>The Mainland Luau: How to
Capture the Flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard in time for
Father’s Day and throughout the summer months. And I make sure I promote <span
as a great gift for Grandparent’s Day.
your Christmas storybook in November and December.<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> Some newspapers, magazines, and Web sites will be
delighted to publish your press release or to review the book for their
audiences if they get it early enough (remember, lead times are likely to be
four months or more for monthly print-on-paper publications). Continue to send
press releases featuring your military memoir every Memorial Day. And if your
book focuses on friendship, you should be able to get some exposure for it
every year around Friendship Day on August 7. Locate additional seasonal and
special-events ideas at sites such as <span
regional. A book that is of
regional interest can sell in its region forever. I can attest to that; I
produced the first edition of my Ojai Valley, CA, history book in 1983. I
revised it in 1999, and it is still sells steadily in Ojai (and elsewhere). If
I want to increase sales, I do additional promotion—by speaking at
various service-club meetings and other gatherings, for example.
news. Throw a public party to
celebrate the book’s first, fifth, or tenth anniversary, launch a contest
around the book’s theme, volunteer to help with a charity event, arrange to
donate half the earnings from your book to a cause during the holiday season,
maybe even start a charity. I taught a free six-week publishing workshop for a
group of home-schooled children a few years ago and got some press for my
efforts. I threw a luau for 100 people once, and invited the press. I guess
they liked the food, because they gave me and my luau book a whole page in the
county paper a few weeks later.
the book new again by adding
material such as a foreword or preface.
new promotional materials. Sticker
copies with news of an award or some other achievement. Create costumes and
scripts and invite guests to a party to reenact part of your novel’s story. If
you have a cookbook, produce a pamphlet or booklet of recipes and send them,
along with an order form for your book, in Christmas cards to your entire
mailing list (send these early enough so that folks can order books for holiday
giving). Produce a pamphlet or booklet related to your original book that
includes ordering information for it. Build a new Web site or expand the one
you’re using now. Start a blog.
And be sure to send press releases
to announce all events, changes, and milestones. While editors may consider
your older book yesterday’s news, they are always interested in reporting
something that is newsworthy and fresh.
Patricia Fry is the
president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). She is also
a full-time freelance writer and the author of 24 books. Her latest is <span
class=8StoneSans>The Right Way to Write, Publish
and Sell Your Book. For more information, visit