Thursday, December 20, 2007



It’s finally arrived, the day that you’ve been waiting for: you’ve got the release date for your book and soon, very soon, it will be on the shelves. So what now, start on the next book, wait for your royalties, wait for your publisher to start setting up the nationwide book tour, tv, radio print ads, reviews etc. etc. Now, welcome to the real world. First, waiting is something that should never do, whether it’s waiting for your publisher to do something or simply waiting for your royalties. This phase of your journey is about being active, getting out there, telling everyone about your book and essentially being shameless in your self-promotion. Because the unfortunate reality, is that except in rare cases, a publisher will spend limited if any significant dollars on promoting a first time author. Because of the cut backs in publishing and the consolidation of the industry it’s become as hit driven as Hollywood. They lavish promotional dollars on tent pole projects and generally have limited resources left for others. So what do you do? It’s up to you to be your own PR agent.

Your promotion is in two phases: the first which we’ll talk about this week, is to concentrate on working with your publisher to see what if anything they’ll do. This is key since certain types of publicity, only they can do. Essentially you have to promote your book to your own publisher. This may sound odd since after all they are the one publishing your book. However, your book is not the only one that is coming out on their list, so you want to make sure that someone focuses on your book. First, determine what if anything, your publisher will do for you and stay on them, be proactive in contacting them and making sure that they follow through. At a minimum, your publisher should: (1) submit your book for reviews to magazines (such as Essence, Ebony), local newspapers, on line reviews and (2) submit your book to major book clubs , depending upon the genre of your book, there are book clubs that have tens of thousands of members in some cases and where if your book is accepted this can mean substantial sales.

To clarify, these are not the book clubs where a few friends get together, but rather the book of the month type of clubs controlled by the major publishers, where members pay a fixed amount to receive a choice of certain books each month. In most cases only the publisher can submit a book to these book clubs so very early on, you should do the research and find out which book clubs would be a possibility for your book. One such book club is Black Expressions, this book club is owned by one of the major publishers and is very influential in getting black books out to their readership (3) Submit your book to on line book clubs such as Barnes& and Again, only your publisher can submit to these book clubs but if your book is selected this can be invaluable PR and sales (4) if your publisher has a booth at BEA (the major book sellers convention, held each year in different cities, 2008 it will be in Los Angeles) see if they will invite you to have a signing at their booth. While these are not book that will be sold, a signing at BEA can nevertheless be important exposure because most professionals in the book industry (including librarians, academics and others) attend the convention.

Many of these suggestions are things that I unfortunately found out about after my book was published and so was not able to fully take advantage of them. But I pass these ideas on to you so that when your book comes out, you can be aware of these opportunities before the book is on the shelves and you can really profit from them. Next week, we’ll talk more about promotion and about some of the things that you can and should do.

If you’re interested in more information about my book A DEAD MAN SPEAKS, check out my website at or you can email me at



Anonymous said...

Great article.

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