Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Publicity 101

Today's guest blog is from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the author of so-called hard-to-promote genres ( and of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, And, yes, she will be speaking at the Book 'Em book fair in North Carolina in February of 2013. It's part of her overall marketing campaign and a way to help other authors avoid the same promotion potholes she once fell into.

This is Part 1 of Book Publicity 101. Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

If your name isn't King or Grisham or Roberts you've probably already figured out that you need to do a lot of publicity on your own because your publisher hasn't assigned a budget ample enough to shoot your book to stardom.

That publicist can be you or someone else, but somebody's got to do it if you want your book to sell.

I have a publicist friend who is also an author. He rightfully claims that he could never find a PR person who would do the same kind of job he does, including the time he spends on his own PR work. How could anyone argue with that? We all are our own best publicists, even if we hire someone else.

But what if we don't have the time or expertise?

We can learn to do it ourselves. After all, we are writers. We should be able to grasp the knack of how to write a release.

But the best way to do it is to learn a lot about the marketing of books and then partner with expert publicists or people who can help you with specific projects like online book tours. And partnering with them in a way that won’t eat up your advance or cost you more than you’re likely to make on your book.

Here are some suggestions for preparing yourself to be the best publicity partner around.

  1. Join organizations like SPAN (Small Publishers of North America) ( where you’ll learn to understand the world of publishing from every angle—your, that of your publicist and that of your publisher.
  2. Subscribe to newsletters sent out my experts in the field of publishing. Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Penny C. Sansevieri, and one of my favorite publicity gurus Joan Stewart are all online resources for getting online information that isn’t rooted in myth and gossip. You’ll learn tons from my Sharing with Writers newsletter, too. Subscribe by sending a SUBSCRIBE message to
  3. Take a class in public relations. The only way I know how to avoid drastic mistakes in choosing a class is to patronize your local college or attend writers’ conferences sponsored by universities.
  4. One of the most frugal ways to learn a new skillset is to read. Most of those who publish free newsletters like the ones I mentioned above have books that will get you off on the right foot. Find mine at

The next question is how do you find the best help with publicity possible. Tune in tomorrow for tips!