Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Publicize & Market Your Self-Published Book - Brooklyn Book Festival Workshop - Part 1

Way back on Sunday, September 22nd I attended the Brooklyn Book Festival.  My daughter wasn't even 8 weeks old and I was given my very first afternoon "off" to attend two lectures at the Festival.  

Bridget Marmion and Rich Kelley's How to Publicize and Market Your Self-Published Book was one of them.  [I wrote about the other lecture last week. You can read about it and my meeting Edwidge Danticat here.]

Please Note: To shorten this post (a bit) I have broken it up.  Part one will share what Bridget and Sarah discussed.  Part two will share what Rich Kelley discussed (really good stuff!!).  So keep your eyes out for this post next week Wednesday!

The very first question Briget Marmion asked us was:

Why are you publishing? Who is the audience of my book?

Bridget told us that if you can't answer this question then you will not be successful in getting your book into the hands of readers.  Her exact words were, "The clarity of who your audience is determines your success."

When writing about your book and describing it to others, you should not compare your book to the number one bestseller in your category.  Look at other authors of your genre &/or style.  Aim for the not so lofty so that your hubris does not showcase your novice status.

"Until you understand who your target audience is you will not know HOW to spend your money." Bridget said next.  Depending upon your audience, your "title, jacket, how many books to print, what form (digital, print, etc.) should the book take -- these are all formed based on target audience."

Once these things are defined, the next big hurdle is ensuring you use meta data which are the key words in your title, subtitle and description.  This will be how you book will be discovered by using the right words that will appeal to your target audience.

Bridget then invited Sarah Russo, a publicist, to take the floor and share her perspective.  Sarah shared with us that Getting work published prior to your full-length novel being finished/published is a great way to build your platform and readership.

You (the writer/author) need to "think of levels of publicity".  Sarah says, "publishing is all about relationships.  Talking to people you know is important to see how they can help you."

"Share information with others!!" - was almost a mantra of Sarah's to the group of about 60 writers and authors that afternoon.  Sarah says good places to share are:

  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Wattpad
If you happen to be a nonfiction writer writing about a specific genre (say, the environment) find websites such as Treehugger and begin speaking with them about your book.  See if you can have your book on their site, speak at their events, etc.  In essence, find an organization/group/company whose constituents/members/participants would be interested in the topic of your book.  Yes, it involves research but you are searching ultimately for your READERS.

If you happen to be a fiction writer, Sarah asks you to answer this question: 

What is it you are doing differently from other fiction writers?  Why should readers read your work?

The next hurdle is to "have professional looking materials.  Be super professional when dealing with publishing/marketing people.  Be polite!"

Sarah stressed that the people you are contacting about furthering your work (publishers, publicists, editors, agents, writers, journalists, etc.) are people too!  "Read the work of the people you contact!  Read them.  Google them.  Find out about them."  Don't just contact them to help you.  Again, they are people too!

A key thing for both fiction AND nonfiction writers is Social Media.  Sarah said, "Building your platform is super critical!  Find what you have to say without being totally self-promotional.  Your stuff should be 1 of 20 tweets (or posts)."  This shows you the correct proportion of sharing interesting information with your target audience and sharing info about your project/book.  [Surprising isn't it??]

 Here are some other great tips from Sarah Russo:

  • If you're interested in getting your book into the book club circuit your book needs to be printed in paperback form.
  • Book signings at your local library is a great way of getting exposure for your book.  Take a copy of your book to a librarian to see if that specific librarian is interested in reading your book.  If so, work with that librarian to get a book signing at that branch.  Be friendly!  Develop a relationship with the librarian.  Remember Sarah's earlier advice -- publishing is about developing relationships!
  • Find mentors!!  They will help you and edit you.
A great piece of advice Sarah shared was to find a book model for your book.  This is a book that is similar to yours in genre, target audience and content.  See how this book moves in the publishing world and how the author gained publicity/exposure for the book.  Then, if possible, see if you can model your marketing/promotions in a similar manner.

Last tips from Sarah are:

  1. Utilize your networks
  2. Engage your audience
To get other helpful tips, contact Bridget at:  Or, if you prefer to meet them live, they will be hosting an all day event on October 29th in Manhattan.  The event is called "Publishing Professionals Offer Best Practices for Self-Publishing."


  1. Informative and helpful! Thanks :)

  2. You're quite welcome Laura! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Great tips! I'm not self published, my book is published by a small traditional publisher, but frankly the advice is just as true - it's all about getting out there and making sure people get to hear about your book, if you don't tell them then nobody will! :-)

  4. Hey Chris! Thanks for stopping by. And yes, authors have to promote themselves to the best of their abilities these days. Sharing + Promotion is the name of the game!

  5. thanks for sharing this i really appreciate your post and its very interesting. keep posting more
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