book marketing

When should I start marketing my book?

By July 29, 2020No Comments

So, you’ve just finished writing and editing your novel and you’re ready to share it with the world? Congrats! Now you’re probably wondering, when do I start telling people about it? The answer is generally sooner than you might think. Let’s break it down to give you an idea of how the publishing process works—and how you can best position your book for success.

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

When to start marketing your book depends largely upon how you are publishing your book. If you are publishing through a traditional publisher, they might announce the acquisition of your book in Publishers Weekly a year or more in advance of publication, at which time you are more than welcome (and highly encouraged) to share that news via social media, email newsletters, your website, etc. Prior to that, though, it’s often not recommended to share too much without your publisher’s permission. Your publisher and their marketing and publicity teams will help guide you in what can be shared when, and may even share assets with you like the final book cover, social media graphics, or (if you’re lucky) a book trailer. The good news is most everything we list here will be handled by your publisher’s marketing and publicity teams. Your primary concern will be boosting their efforts through your social media accounts, your website, and your email newsletter (if you have one).

If you are self-publishing, you have a bit more control of when your book will be available. However, while your timeline between finished draft and publication might be shorter, you still want to make sure you give yourself ample time to promote your book before it goes on sale. Since you’re self-publishing, you’ll be doing a lot of the promotion yourself so you want to make sure you devote enough time to it. Generating excitement for your book ahead of its publication will ensure you have a successful launch day—and successful sales numbers.

One Year Before Publication

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you’ll want to start thinking about your marketing strategy about a year in advance of when your book will go on sale. This will give you a chance to strategize and determine what marketing tools you might need (like a book trailer), how much money you should save up to advertise your book, and determine how you can capitalize on different events around the time of publication (for example, holiday shopping if your book publishes in the fall). If you’re working with one of the major publishers like Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Scholastic, Macmillan, etc., chances are their marketing team will take care of most of this for you, but it is still good to consider what you can do on your own.

Your marketing to-do list:

  • Make sure you have an author website and social media profiles. If you don’t have them yet, set them up now and start posting on them regularly so you have an established audience by the time your book publishes.
  • Announce the book title and a brief description to your audience on social media, your website, and/or your email newsletter. Be sure to include the expected publication date!
  • Decide how much money you’re willing to spend on marketing and advertising your book and start saving for this. Consider the costs of hiring a professional marketer, running digital ads, creating a book trailer, or creating promo items to hand out at events.
  • Create your marketing strategy. Who is your target audience? How will you reach them? What major holidays, seasons, or events can you capitalize on to make the most sales?

Six Months Before Publication

By now your author website should be up and running, and your author social media profiles should be established with a steady stream of posts and followers. You’ve set aside marketing funds and you’re ready to dive in. If you’re working with a major publishing house, you might even have a finished book cover by now, which is great! You definitely want to do a cover reveal via your website and social media accounts as soon as you have a cover you’re allowed to share. If you’re self-publishing, now is a good time to share your book cover if you have one, too. Before you do, though, you should absolutely make sure your book is available for pre-order at major online book retailers. There is no point in promoting a book that no one can pre-order or purchase. If you’re planning to do a teaser trailer and a longer book trailer, now is the time to reach out to production studios or start creating the videos yourself.

Your marketing to-do list:

  • If you’re self-publishing, make sure your book is available for pre-order at major online book retailers and any brick-and-mortar book stores you’re working with. (Traditional publishers will handle this for you.)
  • Reveal your book cover via your website and social media accounts and encourage people to pre-order your book.
  • Reach out to production studios to create your book trailer, or begin making your own trailer.

Three Months Before Publication

With three months left before publication, it’s go time! This is where you start ramping up your pre-sale marketing efforts. If you haven’t already connected with a production company for your book trailer, do it now! Creating a book trailer can often take longer than you’d expect, and you want to make sure your book trailer is ready well before your book even goes on sale. Now is also the time to request reviews of your book. If you’re working with a traditional publisher, chances are they’ll have what are called ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) or AREs (Advanced Reader Editions) of your book which they will send out to reviewers on your behalf. If they’ve given you a few of these, send them to people you know who will read the book and review it or otherwise promote it via their blog, social media, etc. If you’re self-publishing, now is the time to pitch your book to reviewers and bloggers. Consider running a Goodreads giveaway of at least 5 books to encourage readers to add the book to their “want to read” shelves and perhaps add a review of your book if they win a copy. If you have the budget, you can run a pre-order advertising campaign, otherwise save those funds for an on-sale advertising campaign.

Your marketing to-do list:

  • Reach out to production studios to create your book trailer if you haven’t already.
  • If you requested a teaser trailer and a full trailer back at the 6-month mark, you should have a finished teaser trailer by now. Share it to build anticipation before the next trailer! (Note: If you only had one trailer made, hold onto it for now.)
  • Send out free, early copies of your book to book reviewers, book bloggers, local newspapers, and regional publications for review.
  • Run a Goodreads giveaway of at least 5 books.
  • If budget allows, start running pre-order advertising via Google Ads or social media platforms.

One Month Before Publication

You’re getting closer to publication! By now your audience on social media should be well aware that you have a book about to launch. You can help build the excitement by celebrating the countdown to launch, reminding them when your book is 30 days away, 2 weeks away, 1 week away, 3 days away, 2 days away, 1 day away, and finally celebrating launch day. Now is also a great time to connect with local booksellers to see if they’d let you host a book launch party in their store. If you requested a book trailer early enough, you should have a finished book trailer ready to share. (We detail some of the best strategies for sharing your book trailer in this blog post.) If budget allows, continue (or start) pre-order advertising, including ads to promote your book trailer—the flashiest ad you have.

Your marketing to-do list:

  • Begin counting down to publication day on your social media accounts, encouraging your followers to pre-order the book.
  • Connect with local booksellers to inquire about book launch events.
  • Share your book trailer on your website and social media accounts, again encouraging pre-orders.
  • Start advertising your book trailer.
  • Continue (or start) pre-order advertising for your book.

At Publication

Hooray! Happy book-birthday! If you were able to connect with a local book seller, get ready to celebrate with a book launch party with all your friends and family and readers. Now that your book is finally out in the world, it’s time to ramp up advertising. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Pinterest Ads…pick any social media platform and you can probably advertise there. If you have a book trailer, make sure you are using it in your advertising campaigns as it is one of the best tools you can use to promote your book. It’s also time to celebrate on social media with your followers. You can run giveaways for your book, or encourage your followers to share a photo of them with your book using a specific hashtag so you can reshare their posts. If you’re on Instagram you can reach out to “bookstagrammers” to see if they’ll feature your book on their profiles or blogs. If possible, connect with

Your marketing to-do list:

  • Host your book launch party (if you scheduled one) and make sure you’ve invited everyone you know!
  • Begin “on sale” advertising to promote your book and your book trailer to drive book sales.
  • Announce the publication of your book on social media.
  • Offer giveaways of your book to your social media followers.
  • Reach out to “bookstagrammers” or other social media influencers to see if they’d be interested in featuring your book.

After Publication

The party doesn’t stop there! For the next 6 months to a year after your book is published, you’ll want to keep promoting it. Share occasional posts on social media, offer a giveaway around the next major holiday (Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc.), share your book trailer, run ads around big shopping moments (back-to-school, holiday shopping, Amazon Prime Day, etc.). You’ll also want to look into book festivals near you that you might be able to attend, or book events you can host on your own at local book stores or schools. You can also see what book awards your novel might be eligible for and begin pitching your book to those contests. The important thing is to continue building upon all the work you’ve done so you will continue to see book sales well into the future.

Your marketing to-do list:

  • Continue posting on your social media accounts and website, whether it’s behind-the-scenes, life-of-an-author posts, or posts about your book.
  • Keep sharing your book trailer and promote it with advertising when you can.
  • Use major holidays and shopping seasons as an excuse to promote and advertise your book either as a gift or as the perfect thing to read for that time of year.
  • Research book festivals near you and see if you can attend as an author or exhibitor.
  • Host book events like book signings at local book stores, or give talks at local schools if your book is for children.
  • Submit your novel for relevant book awards and competitions.

Do you have experience marketing your book that you’d like to share? Drop your best marketing tips in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, check out How to Use Book Trailers To Market Your Book

Megan Barlog loves great stories, be they books, movies, TV shows, or anything in between! She has studied both creative writing and screenwriting, and worked for both a library and a major NYC publisher. When she’s not writing a novel or screenplay, she’s probably out for a run or binge-watching something on Netflix.

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