Leveraging your networks for book promotion

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the “cold call.” It’s when you try to sell something to people who don’t know you.

Most people don’t enjoy doing this, so it’s one reason you don’t need to include it in your book marketing plan.

The other more important reason is that it’s always easier to sell to a “warm” audience — those people or businesses that know, like, and trust you already. They’re more likely to buy from you than strangers are. 

They’re also more likely to help you reach the right readers for your book.

Leveraging your networks

Your “warm” audience is the people in your networks. Because of that, it’s important to understand how leveraging your networks can help you sell more books.

Leveraging your networks doesn’t necessarily mean “selling to” your networks, though. Because not everybody you know is going to be interested in the types of books you write, you can’t expect  all of them to buy and read your book.

It might be reasonable to expect them to support you and your book by telling other people about it, though.

And, yes, some will buy, read, and review it, too. But don’t expect (or demand!) that.

Who do you know, and how can they help you?

Start by assessing your networks.

While most think of their networks in terms of friends and family, yours might also include your social media connections, colleagues, and newsletter subscribers, among others.

What do you know about the people in these networks? Are they the target audience for your book, or are they in a position to help you reach your target audience?

Divide them into two groups — readers and helpers (there might be overlap).This will help you use the right messages with them.

Leveraging your networks

Let’s look at your networks and how to leverage them in greater depth. Here are the most common types:

Alumni association

Ask your alumni newsletter editor to write about you and your new book; ask your local chapter chair to host a book signing at the next meeting.


Write a blog post about why your book is important and how it will help educate, entertain, or inform readers. In the post, ask blog subscribers to consider sharing that information with their own networks and groups.

Offer to do an interview or guest post related to your book on their blogs, too. Guest blogging is an excellent way to leverage your networks’ networks.


Whether they’re local or people you know across the country or around the world through trade groups, this network is particularly important if you’ve written a nonfiction book related to your profession.

Use email to tell them about your book and how it will help them. Encourage them ever-so-gently to share news about your book with their networks, too.

Customers and clients

Do they know they’re doing business with an author? Make sure they find out directly from you.

You can do that easily by updating your email signature to include your book title and a purchase link.

Facebook profile

How many of your Facebook friends might be interested in your book or share information about it with their networks?

In addition to posting occasionally about your book, message some with sample Facebook posts they can use if they’d like to share your news on their timelines. Use private messaging for this once. Any more than that is too intrusive.

Facebook page

Do you have a separate fan page for your book or one of its characters? Ask people who “like” your page to share information about the book on their own pages.

Post about your book and ask people to share your post.

Friends, neighbors, relatives

They can help you spread the word if they like your book or believe in you

When my “Book Markeiting 101: How to Build Book Buzz” student Laura Laing released  Math for Grownups, she sent friends and others a friendly (and very fruitful) e-mail message listing specific things they could do to help her get the word out about her book.

Groups on social networking sites

Do you belong to groups on Facebook or LinkedIn or participate in online forums?

If group rules allow it, share news of your book, but avoid hard-selling. People participate in these groups to learn, not to get pitched.

Groups are also a good source of beta readers and launch team members.

Local media

I’m surprised by the number of authors who overlook the local press when, in fact, they are often the most receptive media outlets.

Local daily and weekly newspapers in particular can also be remarkably influential. When my first book came out, my local Gannett newspaper wrote a huge feature article about the story behind the book and shared it with other Gannett papers, giving me national reach through one interview.

Identify the right contacts at each type of outlet (newspaper, magazine, radio, TV) and email them to suggest appropriate and relevant story or segment ideas.

National media

Authors who are journalists or have been writing about their book’s topic for some time probably have relationships with other journalists. Send specific and targeted article or segment pitches to these reporters, freelance writers, editors, producers, and assignment editors.

Everyone else? Get tips for pitching the press in publicist Cathy Lewis’s helpful article on this site, “Promoting your book: 8 ways to pitch media outlets.”

Newsletter subscribers

If you’ve been providing value in the form of information or interesting content to your newsletter subscribers, they will be happy to talk up your book in their own networks.

When you ask them to help, provide them with images they can share and sample posts and tweets. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to support you and your book.

Social networks

Chances are, you’re also active on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social networks.

Of course you’ll announce your book, but you’re smart enough not to do that constantly. When you do, though, make sure you don’t say, “Buy my book,” but instead share tidbits that help people understand your book’s value.

Keep them updated on your virtual book tour stops, media interviews, and so on.

Keep growing and leveraging your networks

If you’ve got lots of connections but they’re not likely to buy your book, what are you doing now to expand your networks to fix that?

Continually evaluate your networks to make sure you’re attracting and engaging with the right types of people.

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And by all means, remember that this isn’t a one-way street. Support others the way you’d like them to support you. You’ll find that it’s easier to ask a favor related to your book promotion if you’ve already done a few favors yourself.

Did we miss anything? Please stop by here and leave a comment!

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  1. This was a very helpful article which gave me some good tips about marketing. Thank you, I plan to try some of them with my new children’s book Horatio Mortimer Loved Music on Amazon.

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