Quick, Easy Ways to Promote Your Book in Your Underwear (And no, I’m not talking selfies) Part 1

Could you imagine JD Salinger with a Facebook Page? Harper Lee tweeting like a mockingbird? And speaking of all things avian, how about Emily Dickinson hosting her own blog: ‘Hope is a thing with feathers.’ #quoteoftheday!!! PS, check out this great video of my cat on a skateboard!

Your soul just threw up in its mouth a little, didn’t it?

Of course, these great minds are no longer with us. However, it’s difficult to even imagine the writers of yore engaging in the kind of promotional efforts that authors of today, both conventionally and self-published, do. Promotion that will make them stand-out from the ever-increasing competition and get their work into the hands and minds of as many readers as possible.

Here’s Part 1 of a list of Tips, Tricks and Tweaks that you can use to promote your book in your skivvies, from the comfort of your own home. I mean, you could do these naked, I suppose. But have you seen how skin sticks to office furniture? I wouldn’t.

The most difficult of all (tasks) that a mortal man can embark on is to sell a book.                                                   

— SIR STANLEY UNWIN, The Truth About  Publishing, 1926

1) Ya Can’t Lose with Amazon Reviews

Encourage your friends, family, fans and followers (she said alliteratively) to pre-order your book on Amazon. When a book has a significant amount of orders before its publication date, it garners the attention of book distributors, sellers and reviewers, as well as readers who may be looking for books similar to yours on the site.

Amazon’s Pro Reviewers are just that—experienced reviewers who are chosen by the site after having their reviews judged “helpful” by the most readers. These reviewers tend to have dedicated followers of their own, and, provided they like your book, provide insightful and detailed reviews that make readers want to buy. Here’s an example from pro Reviewer Linda Linguvic about my memoir (It's the first reader review.). Note the badges she has under her name.

How to contact: pro-reviewers get tons of books (for free, always for free), so the key thing to remember is to make your pitch succinct and professional. Clicking on the reviewer’s name will give you their contact details, as well as info on the following: Do they accept pitches? What types of books/novels are they interested in? Do you, personally, think their style of reviewing is fair, impartial and would appeal to your readers?

Everyday People: Of course, reviews from all of your readers help, particularly if they use phrases like “A Triumph!” “Groundbreaking!” “Better than Doritos!” However, how to encourage the everyday reader who doesn’t know you to leave a review? Particularly in this day and age, when we’re all a bit weary of being asked to leave a review for everything we do online. The other day I was asked to review a travel site—that featured other people’s reviews! Madness, I tell you!

But I digress. Do any of YOU out there have any tips for encouraging readers to leave you a review on Amazon? Alternatively, could you tell us what spurs you on to review one book as opposed to all the others you read? If so, then I believe that just about everyone reading this column would love to hear from you. In fact, I think we’d all love YOU, personally.

2) Become a Movie Star! I Mean…a Book Star! Okay, just get on YouTube:

In my article last month, I mentioned the treasure trove of famous author interviews and readings on Youtube. The great news is that any writer can post video of themselves at a poetry slam or reading. Not to mention the possibility of making a book trailer to promote your next work. These can range from simple but professional to movie quality.

How could this possibly be useful, you ask? Well, not only is visual media becoming increasingly useful in gaining the attention of new readers, but it can give your good ol’ loyal fans a boost too. In a world that can feel increasingly impersonal, lots of readers love to “interact” with authors whose work they enjoy. A short video of you performing or reading from your work in your living room, for example, can be like the equivalent of a warm handshake and some friendly convo at a book signing.

3) Only Connect: How to Make Meaningful Contact with Bloggers:

Didn’t Snoop Dogg write a song a long time ago called ‘Bloggin’ Ain’t Easy’? If not, someone should have. It’s got to be difficult to write readable, relevant entries on at least a weekly basis, keeping abreast of all the news and trends in a chosen niche, as well as building a rapport with an online audience. The average blogger could probably use a hand once in a while. And that’s where the savvy writer comes in.

Let’s say you write genre fiction, for example—“cozy mysteries”. When I typed “blogs cozy mysteries” into Google, I got 1.2 million hits. My point is when approaching bloggers, the first thing you want to do is target those who will be interested in your work—they’re out there. There’s no limit to the number of tag words you can use (along with the word “blog”) to find online writers who are interested in your subject matter. SEO tag words, however, are the best place to begin.

I spoke to a few blogger friends who have rabid dedicated followers, and they said the following means of author contact usually go down well.

  • Offering a free copy of your book for them to review. (If they do reviews.)
  • Offer to mention and link their blog to your own website.
  • Many bloggers are also authors, and suggesting cross-promotion (putting their book or an interview with them on your site in exchange for the same) will most likely go down well.

Of course, reading and even leaving comments on the blogs you mean to approach tends to be appreciated.

To be interesting, be interested.

—Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

The list of methods in which an author can promote their book online is way too big for one column, so I’ll be doing a Part 2.
In the meantime, what’s worked for you as far as promoting your work? Have you heard about another who’s pulled off some promotional tour-de-force that you’re dying to try?

And last but not least, this is way cuter than a cat on a skateboard…

Naturi Thomas-Millard

Column by Naturi Thomas-Millard

Naturi is the author of How to Die in Paris: A Memoir (2011, Seal Press/Perseus Books) She's published fiction, non-fiction and poetry in magazines such as Barrow St. and Children, Churches and Daddies. At Sherri Rosen Publicity Int'l, she works as an editor and book doctor. Originally from NYC, she now lives in a village in England which appears to have more sheep than people. This will make starting a book club slightly challenging.

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Sanbai's picture
Sanbai from the Midwest is reading The War of Art June 20, 2014 - 3:30pm

Nice article - really appreciate the guest blog idea.


I liked your example trailer, but nothing beats the quiet, understated trailer for the science-fiction indie sensation Wool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmAAextwvkY

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami June 20, 2014 - 7:37pm

I'd probably offer it free, reviewer or not. (Its sort of a learning poetry book, to see what will work promotion wise for the next poetry book.)

Oh as a reviewer, I actually primarily review cross-over work, for example Mary Poppins book compared to movie, with a supplementary comparison of the author biography to the author biographical movie.

So I'm not sure thats the most helpful.:/

Sofia's picture
Sofia from London, UK is reading everything June 22, 2014 - 3:59pm

Harper Lee is still alive.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami June 22, 2014 - 4:01pm

I think the point is still the same, she's not in any condition to promote.:/

Steplmer's picture
Steplmer May 17, 2017 - 10:56pm

This article is a bit critical and a reader needs to concentrate just to understand the content of this blog. This blog is not about article writing and nor it is about papertrolling. But I like and also enjoyed the reading of this blog. Other people should read this blog also.

PatriciaBean's picture
PatriciaBean September 17, 2021 - 5:59am

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