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What can authors do to help promote their books?

At MSU Press, we advise authors, especially first-time authors, to do as much self-promotion as possible, because there is a positive correlation between authors’ self-promotion and their book sales. As dedicated as your press team is to your book, they likely need your help to identify some segments of the audience for your book, and they are promoting multiple books and might only be able to afford to spend a certain amount of resources to each one. Your press will ask you to fill out a marketing questionnaire when you submit your final manuscript. Take this form seriously and fill it out as completely as you can.

In addition to promoting your book on your social media, it is a good idea to interact with individual and community web pages that are relevant to your book in hopes that through these relationships, your posts on your book will be shared. Also be sure to send out notices to any listservs or newsletters that you receive.

Bring your book to any conferences you attend, and if these meetings host book panel or author-meets-critics sessions, apply to do one. If your press is going to exhibit at the conference, ask about the possibility of doing a signing.

Research any book awards that your book may be eligible for, list these opportunities on the marketing questionnaire, and then coordinate awards submission with your publisher. Some require authors to self-nominate; others require publishers to do so.

It is also highly recommended that authors build relationships with their local and regional booksellers. It can be a little daunting to make contact on your own, but booksellers not only appreciate personal relationships with authors but also are generally excited to feature local ones. Your presence promoting your book often translates into more direct sales for them, especially if you can arrange for book signings or similar events.

—Michigan State University Press, February 2021

  • Promote the book on your website, blog, or social networking sites. If you haven’t done this already, include your book’s URL (web address) so if people read about the book on your blog, for example, all they have to do is click to our site to place an order. Consider posting videos of yourself discussing the book or being interviewed about the book. Be as creative as possible!
  • Post information about your book on online listservs, newsgroups, or forums in your field (e.g., H-Net, Humanities Commons). A posting should contain a brief description of the book and a link to the book’s page on the press’s website. It is always best to check the “netiquette” of such forums to be sure they allow for book announcements—some do not.
  • Schedule readings at local bookstores, local libraries, your academic department, or other appropriate venues. Be sure to let your press know the details of these events so they can add them to their online events calendar.
  • Write op-ed pieces relating to your book’s subject matter for your school paper, local paper, the Chronicle of Higher Education, online newsletters like Inside Higher Education, and blogs that deal with either your book’s subject matter or are scholarly in nature (if your book is a scholarly book).
  • If your book has mass-market appeal, consider posting on blogs that deal with pop culture or mass-market topics. Look into becoming a contributor to webzines and blogs like PopMatters and The Conversation—sites that publish reviews, interviews, and detailed essays on cultural studies.
  • Contact your university news bureau and your alumni associations to encourage them to include information about your new book on their websites and in their publications.
  • Encourage the librarian at your institution to purchase a copy of your book for the library’s collection.
  • Attend and present at scholarly meetings. Be sure to let your press know what meetings you will be at and when the meetings are going to be. If your press has a booth at the conference, tell people where they can find it and your book after you present a paper. It is likely that your press will be unable to attend every conference that you attend, but they can often supply you with a flier, perhaps offering a discount to conference attendees, that you can share with your colleagues. Be sure to bring a copy of your book to the meeting to show other scholars.
  • Consider course adoptions. Think about your colleagues or peers who might use your book in their classes. Urge them to request exam copies and use your work in their teaching. Provide a list to your publisher of possible course adopters or academic influencers in your field and urge your press to send them complimentary copies.
  • Keep abreast of current events. Pay attention to news that can serve as a publicity hook for your book and let your publicist know about it.

—AUPresses Faculty Outreach Committee, April 2020

Authors can do a number of things to help promote their book throughout the publication process. Here are a few suggested by the AUPresses Marketing Committee.

During the production process, add your book’s URL (web address) to the signature line of your emails, your website, blog, or social networking sites, your university/professional website bio page, and other venues.

If you haven’t already done so already, create a Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking site accounts to promote your book. You will want to do this several months before the publication date so you can establish a group of followers.

Be sure to follow your press on social media and re-tweet its posts about your book. We recommend joining online listservs (e.g., H-Net), newsgroups, or forums in your field to become part of the discussion/community.

Tell all of your friends and colleagues about the book and direct them to your book’s page on the press’s website. Ask them to spread the word as well; word-of-mouth is a powerful tool.

—AUPresses Faculty Outreach Committee, February 2019

See also Does Promotion via Social Media Have Much of an Impact?