Traditional Publishing

Promotional tips

By Pamela S. Thibodeaux – Saturday September 25, 2004

I never thought I would be in a position to give advice on promoting your work. However, when my book Tempered Hearts was published (December 2000, Writers Exchange E-publishing Co.) I knew my writing career had taken on a whole new range of duties. I had a choice: Sit back and wait for the sales to trickle in or get out there and pound the pavement and make the sales happen.

Not much of a choice considering that – for most new authors – personal sales many times outweigh Publisher's sales. And, since I was e-published and there was no advance to make the path a little smoother until the royalties started rolling in (do they ever really do this?), I knew I had to do some self -promoting.

So, what did I do?

Research, research, research. There are many articles out there by authors such as Susan Grant that give tips on self-promotion (check The Romance Journal's Archives Almost everything I learned, I learned from these authors, so I can't really take full credit for the advice I give to you. But I'll give it to you anyway.

This advice can be incorporated with your own ideas whether you are e-published, self-published or even traditionally published. One thing though, if you are traditionally published you need to start promoting before your book hits the shelves. You usually have up to one year or more between contract date and shelf date; use it! E-published and self-published authors have it the other way around. Our books are available sooner and have a longer shelf life, but that doesn't really give us an advantage. Too many people still believe e-published or self-published isn't really published.

Anyway, my best advice to you is to contact every bookstore you can. Map out an area within, say, a 20–50 or even a 100–mile radius of your home. Call the bookstores and see if the have a "local or regional" author section. Most of them do. Some of them will buy a few copies (3–5) of your book from you. Also, most of them are happy to schedule a book signing for you. It may be up to you to advertise this book signing, but so what? Some newspapers and/or radio stations do this as a public service announcement for free.

Here's a link that may help you in your search: Your State. Alternatively, you can do a web search for Bookstores+YourState. This
process may take longer, but it can work. You can narrow down your search by using key words like: Independent; Christian; Wholesale – whatever you are trying to find.

Libraries are another great way to promote your work. Talk with the "Friends of the Library" chapter in your hometown if there is one. Also, donate a book to your local library. People love this; it's good publicity (especially if you get a newspaper to pick up the story); and it's a good way to give back to your community. Another great idea is to donate an autographed copy of your book to the library where it is set. If possible, do this in person. Many times the library will set up a book signing for you at one (or more) of the book stores in the area. This too, may be accomplished through the "Friends of the Library" group. Also, don't ignore the fact that many libraries have a budget to buy books and will gladly purchase those from local authors. Here's the link for libraries in my state: I'm sure you can find those listed in your state in a similar manner (or you can call your local library and ask how to get a listing of all the libraries in your state.. they will usually give you the link).

Send out press kits to everyone you can think of and/or afford to! These can but don't necessarily have to include a copy of the book. You can send a summary or first three chapters. Always include: press release; bio; business cards; reviews (if you have them). Press kits are easy to make and relatively inexpensive: a simple two-pocket folder with a copy of the cover on the front and back and info inside. Postage may add up, but remember it's all tax deductible! Follow up with a phone call, set up interviews if possible.

Press releases are important too. Send them to every newspaper in your state and the state where your book is set. These can sometimes be done via fax and or email. Check out for newspapers listed by state. Send out press releases to your local publications every time you have or participate in an event! I realised a bit too late that I'd failed at this. Every time you have a speaking engagement, start up a writers' group, participate in a charitable event... these are newsworthy and get you publicity!

Have you created bookmarks yet? They are easy, inexpensive and a great way to promote your book – if you make them yourself. It's not that hard either. Format your page into three columns, insert a picture of your cover, list your publisher, your website and your snail and email address on the front underneath a picture of you. On the back, put a blurb of your book. Be sure to give a short blurb or some other information on your next release (if you know what and when it is). Most bookstores will let you put bookmarks out even though they may not carry your book. Be sure and include several in your press kits too and again, don't forget those libraries!

We all know the power of the internet. One of the most important things you can do as a writer (published or unpublished) is get a website. Most ISP providers offer some free space, so use it! Another way to use the internet is to get out there and list your book every place that will let you. There are many sites designed for the sole purpose of listing new authors and new books.

Check out places like firstwriter.com


The Writers Room Magazine

Self-Published Writers Newsletter & Yahoo Group (great info shared here... not a lot of email)!

Foundation Advertising (new)

List your Website everywhere! Paying-traffic can help with free and other options – check them out!

Don't forget Link Exchanges with other authors which are free!, and all the other online sources... After you get listed there check out if they like your book they send five pages (I think) to their "lists" (the books must be available through Amazon and BAMM) and it's great exposure!

Also check out places like Word Museum and Places like this charge an annual
fee to list but provide a lot of publicity for their members. There are also smaller promo groups such as Divas of Romance that offer a lot of publicity for a small monthly (or annual) fee.

Be careful though, you can spend hours every day on the net and never reach them all! And remember, there are still hundreds or thousands or maybe even millions of people who don't have a home computer or don't have the internet – try and think of ways to reach them.

One way to do this is to make up what I call an "envelope flyer" – a small announcement of your book– put it in every envelope you send out of your house! I made these myself using regular white paper. On the front I put the cover of my book, a short blurb and info on where to find it. On the back I put a blurb listing my next release. I got four to a page. You can hand these tiny fliers out to everyone you come in contact with... bank tellers, retail clerks, leave them at beauty shops/drug stores/libraries/etc. leave
them with your tip when you go out and eat. Ask "do you like to read?" If they say yes, hand them one! I made a copy on regular paper and with my boss's permission it accompanies every fax that goes from the office.

Begin harvesting names and addresses early. Don't make my mistake and wait until you've sold over 100 books to begin this process. When possible, get the name and address ofeveryone who buys your books. Ask if they'd like to get information on future releases. If they like your book they'll say yes! Another way to do this is to give away a book or two (orsomething) at every author event you participate in.

Go to the dollar store in your area, pick up a pretty basket and two wine glasses (if possible, find those with stems to match the colour(s) of your book covers), a couple of artificial roses or flowers, and ribbons and tissue paper for the basket (total cost probably around $5).Give this away. Put out little forms with Name, Address, Email Address on them. Include a box followed by: Check here if you do not want information on my books (if they do not check the box, they are fair game).

Harvest email addresses too. Be careful with this, but people who sign your guest book and email you for whatever reason, internet list groups, etc. are all potential readers! Alwaysoffer them the chance to be removed from your address book by putting a line in your email telling them to reply with "please remove from address book" in the subject line thenremove them! You can follow up with a final email assuring them they have been removed and will not receive future information. Be sure and give them the option to
contact you again. Be polite and be nice!

One more tip: before you start promoting your book the best thing you can do is figure out how much you want to spend doing it. Sit down with your finances (and your spouse or significant other) and determine your promotional budget. Then figure out which ideas give you the most bang for your bucks!

There are as many ways to promote a book as there are bookstores to carry them. Use your imagination. I know you have one.... you're a writer!

For other low-cost promotional ideas visit: Earthly Charms @

Three great books on Marketing & Promoting your E-books are: 101 Ways to Promote Your E-book for Free! E-book Marketing Made Easy, Over 100 Ways to Promote Your E-book Online, by Rusty Fischer. For ordering information email Rusty at: and Promotion for Paupers by Karen Syed – this is a Dollar Download available through Echelon Press @

About the Author

Pamela S. Thibodeaux is a member of the Bayou Writers Group and ACRW. Multi-published in fiction and creative nonfiction, her writing has been tagged as "Inspirational with an Edge!" Author's Website: Author's Email: