When you self-publish your book, it’s your job to let the world know about it. Unlike traditional publishing houses with in-house publicists and marketing teams, self-publishers are responsible for getting the word out about their projects and themselves as authors.
And writers have two distinct but related ways to do that: through book marketing efforts and book publicity campaigns. Even though marketing is a type of publicity, book publicity is not the same thing as marketing a book. Sound confusing? Let’s look at what these terms mean and how you can effectively use each to help readers find your book.
Bringing Awareness to Your Book
The saying that any publicity is good publicity may seem obvious, but is it really true? The short answer is yes if you are just simply looking to promote your writing project. But the way that potential readers see your book and your writing can vary based on the way they are introduced to it.
Self-publishing authors and traditional publishing houses provide marketing plans to promote new titles to potential readers. Book publicity, however, is not a specific plan like a marketing strategy. Instead, book publicity is something that is earned when a title is recommended or reviewed by someone in the literary community.
Both marketing and book publicity help bring awareness to a book, but an author has much more control over a marketing message than they do book publicity. The key difference lies in earning or controlling a book’s message.
Earning the Book Publicity
In a perfect world, an influential person would pick up your recently self-published book, write a glowing review of your writing and publish their thoughts in respected high-traffic media. This type of organic promotion of your work is the perfect example of earning book publicity in an authentic way. Unfortunately, this may not happen quite as easily for new authors or writers who are still building their fan base.
Authors or their publicists seeking earned book publicity will put together a media packet to send out to media outlets, literary institutions, and literary influencers that include the book and concise background information about the author and the story. Once the media packet has been delivered, it is up to the media or individuals whether they choose to review the book and if their review will be a positive or negative one.
Self-publishing authors can also seek earned editorial opportunities for their books without a hired publicist in a few different ways.
- Authors can pursue authentic book reviews before or upon their book’s launch by providing a book to professional reviewers, friends, family, or coworkers to help promote the book to potential readers.
- Writers can send advance copies to literary outlets, book review sites, or even libraries in hopes of garnering reviews or recommendations for potential readers.
- Authors can reach out to literary podcasters, bloggers, or online outlets with a copy of their book or an excerpt in hopes of encouraging editorial publicity for their work.
What’s the Catch?
Creating book publicity doesn’t seem too complicated, but the trick with this type of editorial coverage is that the author has no say in how their book is referenced or reviewed. Authentic publicity requires the reviewer or recommender to have complete control over what they say about a book, its contents, and the writer.
Authors can’t ensure that the reviewer will like their book or that the editorial comments about their work will be positive in any way at all. And for that reason, new or untested authors may not want to rely on earned book publicity until they know how their book is being received by readers since their book’s promotion could potentially be negative.
The good and the bad about book publicity is that it is devastatingly real. A book reviewer might just shout out your book’s amazing character development and your magical writing. Or they could just as easily give your book a negative review that is read or heard by their trusting literary followers.
Controlling the Narrative with Marketing
The other style of book promotion is through the use of marketing strategies. Unlike book publicity, marketing allows an author to control the messaging of their book. Authors can choose to focus on the unique plot twists in a story, the appeal of characters, or the intensive research that brings the book to life for the reader.
An author’s ability to control what is said about a book in a marketing campaign, especially for a self-publishing writer, makes marketing strategies the most effective method to ensure that you can tell the readers what they need to know to get them excited about your book. But what kind of marketing strategies does an author use to connect with potential readers?
Authors can create a robust marketing campaign that is free or low-cost by utilizing multiple marketing strategies to maximize exposure while controlling the messaging about their work.
- Author websites give writers a place to introduce readers to their work, buy their books, and get to know the author.
- Connecting with other authors, genre groups, and literary circles can give authors a platform for marketing books.
- Literary sites like Goodreads can connect authors to the audience with Author pages, book giveaways, and other strategies that help authors build readership.
- Social media platforms offer authors almost unlimited free promotional space as well as paid advertising opportunities.
The Best of Both Worlds: Combining Book Publicity and Marketing
Self-publishing authors have the freedom to pursue both types of promotional strategies for their work as well as the ability to control the marketing messaging, something that many traditionally published authors cannot do. Book publicity is worth its weight in gold when it comes from a trusted literary source and the review is positive.
Readers love to hear what experienced authors have to say about a new writer and clamor to get their hands on recommended books. New authors that want to have the best chance at positive editorial coverage of their work may want to wait until they have received feedback from other experienced authors, ARC reviewers, or initial organic reviews have started rolling in before they send out media packages.
Since book publicity comes with no guarantees, waiting until you have seen a handful of positive reviews increases the chances that media coverage will be favorable.
But authors who self-publish can create a marketing plan at any time to help build interest in the book before it has even returned from the printer. Integrating different free and paid marketing strategies can help reach your target audience more easily.
And one of the benefits of a diversified campaign is that it can always catch the eye of literary influencers or “bookstagrammers” who may organically provide book publicity for you without even being asked, since many writers love to discover new, up-and-coming authors, just like they once were.
Potential readers who have not yet clicked that “buy now” button may be encouraged to give your book a try if they see an advertisement for it, read a Tweet about the book, and then see a mention of you on their favorite social media maven’s New Authors To Watch list.
Book Launch 101
Make the most of your budget by combining effective social media outreach, placement on platforms like Goodreads, connecting with book promotion sites through resources like Reedsy, and targeted paid advertising to reach likely readers. A little bit of investment into your book publicity and marketing campaigns can help potential readers find your self-published book so you can gain readers, build an audience, and connect with your genre’s fan base so you can start planning your next book.
When you’re ready to print your book, be sure to check out Dazzle Printing’s online calculators.