Book promotion timing: Implement these 9 strategies as soon as you’ve finished the first draft

I’ve lost track of the number of authors I’ve heard from who waited until their e-book was available on Amazon or they had boxes of books stacked in a corner of their home before they started thinking about book promotion.

Only when they’re ready to start accepting money for their page-turner, true life story, or escape to a new lifestyle (today!) do they start to think about who might buy the book and how those people will discover it.

Don’t be that author.

Most of you write a book because you want others to read it. You have a story to tell, a message that must be heard, or information you know will help others. Yes, there are many who never intend to share their book with “the world,” but more often than not, even those people decide they should try to sell the book once it’s done because they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished. (And it is an accomplishment.)

Don’t waste any more time

The world isn’t going to stop spinning if you wait until your book is available for purchase to start promoting it. You’ll be at a disadvantage, though, because so many of the authors in your niche or genre – and especially those writing on the same topic as you – will have a head start because they built a promotion foundation before their books were available.

Here are nine things you can do as soon as you finish that first draft to lay the groundwork for a successful book launch months later.

  1. Learn as much as you can about book publicity and promotion. Even if you have support from a traditional publisher, your in-house publicist can’t do everything that needs to be done. If you want people to discover your book, you have to be involved. Get smarter by reading a book or taking a course.
  2. Research your target audience. Learn as much as you can about the person who is most likely to buy your book. Once you can picture your audience “avatar” – the one individual who best represents someone who will love your book – do more research to find out where he or she spends time both online and offline.
  3. When you know which social networks your audience uses, build a following on those networks. Pick the one or two that are most popular with your audience and learn as much as you can about how to use them effectively. (Pro tip: Just because you have a presence on a social network doesn’t mean you’re using it properly. Plus, the “rules” are always changing.)
  4. Connect with bloggers. Virtual book tours (author blog tours) are common and popular elements of online book launches. When you “go” on a virtual book tour, you’ll ask bloggers to share content related to your book on their blogs – a guest post or Q&A, an audio or video interview, a book review, and so on. They’re easier to schedule and more successful when bloggers already know who you are.
  5. Build an e-mail list.  You’ll use your opt-in e-mail list to send an e-mail announcing your book, but you’d be smart to use it to stay in touch with subscribers on a regular basis, too. (Add yourself to the lists of successful authors to see how they’re doing it.) Remember that for anything other than a one-time communication, you must get permission to add someone’s address to your list.
  6. Compile a list of “key influencers.” Who is most influential with your book’s target audience? Gather names and contact information for people you will contact for a book blurb – an endorsement you’ll use on the cover, inside the book, and on sales pages.
  7. Create your book launch media list. You’ll send review copies and a book announcement press release  to the media outlets that are most likely to review the book or schedule an interview with you.
  8. Create a Facebook Page. I’m not a big fan of Facebook pages for authors. They work better for other types of businesses – especially local retailers who can use them to post store hours and special sales or offer coupons. But you’re going to create one no matter what I say, so do it now and use it in part to solicit opinions on your book’s topic, share progress updates, ask fans to vote on cover options and so on.
  9. Add your book title to your e-mail signature. It doesn’t get any easier than just typing your book’s title after the word “Author.”

Begin developing the tools you’ll need at least six months before the book is available so that you’ve got an audience waiting to read your story as soon as it’s ready for them.

What else would you add to the list? Did you do any of this before publishing? Please share your feedback in a comment. 

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  1. Yay! I’m glad to say that thanks to Sandy’s great info on her site and in the course I signed up for, I’ve done 8 of these 9 for a book that should be out by the end of the month. 🙂

  2. Hi Sandy,

    It’s scary for most authors to do, but I recommend preselling your book on your website as soon as you have confirmed the cover. That may be months before it’s available, but it can help create momentum. It’s important to make the projected date clear, of course, so the eager reader isn’t disappointed when your book doesn’t land on his porch the next day.

  3. As a new author this is great information because I do have a book coming out Feb. 9th 2015 and I must say that I’m overwhelmed at what all goes into promoting it! I do have a FB page and a fan page. I have not established an email list but that’s next, and I need to research my target audience more as well. This is very helpful information, thank you Sandra!


    1. I’m so glad it was helpful, Thalia! Thanks for letting me know. There’s a lot to learn, but try not to let it overwhelm you. Set priorities, and just tackle one new thing at a time. Good luck!


  4. This is a great list, Sandra, thank you. I think all I would add is to prepare a list of book stores (dwindling though they may be) for book signings, and your favourite place to do your launch (however modest that might be), so you don’t have to wait weeks or more to get a place after the book is launched. This is especially true for your second book onwards. Of course this is for paper copies.

  5. I plan to offer the first chapter as a preview on my website as soon as I have the ARCs. I have a list of people for paper and electronic ARCs, so I’m ready to send out copies for review ASAP. And I’ll send the book to Kirkus and Publishers Weekly for reviews.

  6. These are really great ideas. I’m a budding writer, so these suggestions will help a lot. I’m glad I started researching about promoting now, and compiled a list of things I need to do before I start marketing my book.

  7. Hi Sandra,

    This is a very useful & beneficial article. Indeed, many authors start ‘too late’ in the book marketing process. These ‘steps’ are essential for developing a successful book launch. It cannot be emphasized enough how important having a marketing plan is before getting started and these strategies should be part of that marketing plan. I’ll be sure to share this article with my friends and audience/tribe.


  8. Sandra,

    These are excellent ideas. Thank you. I love checklists and guidelines.

    Here’s my challenge. I have two ebooks (already published) to promote (a how-to and an inspirational book) and three more written and ready for final polishing before publication (all three books are close to my heart, a young-adult novel, a memoir, and a self-transformation book). I also have products to repurpose (two bestsellers from a few years ago).

    I don’t “suffer” from too few opportunities, I “suffer” from too many. :-).

    What to do, what to do, where do I place my energy?

    1. I’m glad you found the information helpful, Kathleen! Where you place your energy depends on your goals. Your situation is complicated by the fact that you’re writing in several genres, which means you’ll need to cultivate several audiences. Figuring out your goals will help you make important decisions, though.


  9. i almost done yur recommended points – it has succeeded in the local market but nothing yet in abroad markets – i will fix my book with amazon – there is somothing else to do – please advise – regards – antoine razzouk – author –

  10. Thanks for sending me back here, Sandra.

    One point about Facebook: using a personal profile for marketing is a TOS violation. You probably won’t have your profile taken down unless FB gets complaints. Not worth the risk to me.

    If I do anything on FB, I’d rather separate it from my personal account anyway.

    Thanks for the advice! Looks very helpful.

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. FB is definitely cracking down on people who have “Author” in their profile name.


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