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The Marketing Timeline

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Once you’ve decided to publish a book, the clock starts ticking, not just for the editorial and production people who must work with the manuscript, but also for the marketing staff, who can–and usually should–begin their work on the book a full year before its publication. The checklist below is designed to help you get everything done without being overwhelmed.

Six to twelve months before publication

• Offer sale of first serial rights to periodicals–send selected chapters, excerpts, or manuscript with table of contents and cover letter.

Seven months before publication

• Begin cover design.

Six months before publication

• Submit Advance Book Information (ABI) to R. R. Bowker for inclusion in Books in Print (forms available from www.bowker.com).

Four to six months before publication

• Produce cover art (printed covers or color photos of mockup for sales conference).

• Write editorial fact sheet, back cover copy, and trade catalog copy.

• Submit to book clubs.

Four months before publication

• Write press release/create press kit (photo, author bio, backgrounder, sample questions, clippings, all as appropriate).

• Send galleys with press release to prepublication reviewers: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, and newalueers with pullout review sections. (You should have “guidelines” for submissions from the above magazines for reference. Also make sure you have current, correct names of editors.)

• Begin work on prepub direct-mail offer.

Three months before publication

• Send galleys with cover letter and press release to specialty catalogs and special sales outlets.

• Send galleys with cover letter and press release to periodicals for review and/or second serial rights.

• Make follow-up phone calls on any or all of the above as soon as three weeks after mailing.

Two months before publication

• Mail prepub direct-mail offers.

• Compile media lists and prepare press kits for PR campaign.

One month before publication

• Ensure that books are in stock.

Three weeks before publication

• Send out press kits for author interviews.

• Send review copies with press release and cover letter.

One to two weeks before publication

• Follow up with phone calls 10 to 14 days after shipping (if sent UPS, FedEx Ground, or first-class mail).

After publication

• Continue your marketing activities as long as they remain cost effective.

David Cole, who has spent almost 30 years in book publishing, provides business plans and brokerage services through his consulting firm Gemini Marketing & Communications (www.geminicole.com) and is principal of Bay Tree Publishing (www.baytreepublish.com). He can be reached by phone at 510/525-6902 or by email at dcole@geminicole.com.

This article is adapted from

The Complete Guide to Book Marketing by David Cole, available for $19.95 plus $5 shipping and handling (NY state residents must add sales tax). Order toll-free from 800/491-2808; by mail from Allworth Press, 10 East 23rd St., New York, NY 10010; or via www.allworth.com.

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