Traditional book publishers usually do a wonderful job garnering advance book reviews. But, once the book has been published, they often have used up their book promotion resources.
Authors do not have to passively watch as their book promotion campaigns come to a full stop after the book's publication date, nor do they necessarily have to convince the publisher to exceed its book marketing budget (it's always better to let your literary agent do that sort of haggling, anyway, so that you don't risk tainting your relationship with your publisher and jinxing the possibility of working on future book projects together).
However, there's at least five things you can do to pick up your book publicity campaign where your publisher has left off. You should:
- Circle Back. Find out what your publisher has done as part of its book publicity efforts. Has your in-house publicist created a press release (and other media kit components) for your book? Great! Ask whether you can use it in your publicity efforts. Find out, in general terms, which categories of media outlets have received the press release, and an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC or galley). Your in-house publicist probably won't be willing to share the names of the people at the media outlets to whom she reached out, but if she will, that will be a terrific help. You don't want to duplicate her efforts but, rather, build on them. Find out whether your publisher followed up on its media outreach. If not, then you can offer to do that follow up yourself (or have your independent book publicist do it for you).
- Make a Book Publicity Plan. So now that you know what your publisher has done to promote your book, decide what else you can do. That might include organizing a book tour; using a wire service to disseminate your press release; responding to news stories with an offer to serve as an expert or guest; pitching media outlets on an interview; contacting your local television shows, radio stations, and newspapers to let them know what you can offer their viewers and readers; conducting a bylined article campaign; sending out op-eds that relate to your topic; and so on. Bring your plan to your publisher. Is there anything on your list of book promotion strategies that the publisher can handle for you? If not, will they provide books so that you can conduct the book publicity campaign less expensively (and, better still, will they handle the mailings for you in house if you provide contact information)?
- Think Online. Build, and maintain, your online presence. If you don't yet have a book web site, create one. Include a blog, and create new entries in your blog twice a week, if you have the time. Otherwise, blog as often as you can, and make each blog entry as rich in keywords as you can. Reach out to your social networks on a regular basis, too, and build a following via the social networks that focus on books (Goodreads, Librarything, etc.). Your goal is to enlarge your online footprint as much as possible, and to create dynamic content so that you'll stay relevant in the search engines -- and so that readers can find you when they're ready to buy your book.
- Consider a Book Publicist's Help. Since book publicists have existing media contacts, and they've promoted books before, it could be worthwhile to engage one. Book publicists typically charge by the project, and you'll have to pick up the expenses. It can get costly, but in the long run, it could be far less expensive to hire an experienced independent book publicist than to let your book languish from a lack of exposure -- and letting your messages go unheard. If you have more time than money on your hands, then you can become your own book publicist. There's no magic to it, and you can do a book publicist's job. Just be prepared for a learning curve, and remember that not every response you receive will be a positive one. Be grateful for all feedback, because it helps your book promotion efforts. Learn from the negative responses, and move on just the way your book publicist would. Also, figure out what's working, and build on your successes.
- Stay in Touch. As you get media exposure through your book promotion efforts, pass the details on to your publisher. When is your interview? Where can it be heard, seen, or read? When will your article be published? Find out, ahead of time, the information about your book promotion hits that will be relevant to the publisher. Ask which person at the publishing company should be your key contact, and when that individual would like the information (how frequently, which day of the week, what time of the day, and so on). When your publisher knows what's happening in your book publicity campaign, that helps keep your publisher's excitement for your book alive -- and, ideally, the publisher will inform its sales team about your book publicity hits so they can run with that information.
Since there are so many things you can do to promote your book even if your publisher's book publicity efforts have stopped, don't get angry or frustrated about the lack of book promotion opportunities that are coming your way. Do something about it. The book's life you save might be your own!