Book promotion is key to launching a new title successfully. To help you develop a promotional plan for a new book, we’ll walk you through the stages of a book launch, with examples of how successful authors have promoted theirs. Some of these book promotion ideas can help you drive preorders and sales now, while others can help build the buzz and brand awareness to facilitate future sales.
Not all of these book promotion ideas will be applicable all the time, and we encourage you to consider your unique audience, budget, and personal preferences before deciding where to invest your time. We hope the ideas will provide inspiration while you’re developing a promotional plan for your next launch, whether you’re an author or marketer at a publishing house.
BOOK PROMOTION PLANNING
Before diving into promoting a new book, there’s early prep work any author or marketer can do to make the rest of the process as smooth as possible (and less overwhelming!). This section highlights some of the things you can get started on right away — long before you start choosing promotional channels or tweaking messaging or allocating budgets. The earlier you get started, the better prepared you’ll be once it’s time to ramp up your book promotions!
Create a book promotion checklist.
Each book will have its own launch plan depending on how much time you have before launch, your unique audience, the book and its genre, tropes, and timeliness, and what tactics you’re comfortable with (and enjoy!). Based on these factors, compile your own book launch checklist from the ideas below.
EXAMPLE: Bestselling author Debbie Macomber created a book launch checklist. Download it here.
Research your target audience.
As you’ll see here, there are tons of ways to promote a book launch — but you don’t need to do them all! Instead, focus on tactics that reach the right readers with the right message at the right time to spend less money (and time!) while selling more copies. Ask your existing audience questions digging into their buying habits, online behavior, and demographics. You can ask via surveys, interviews, focus groups, and social media. Their answers will help you better understand how to reach them and more readers like them via the right channels and messaging.
Learn how your audience searches for books.
Compile a list of of search queries that your target audience is using to search for books like the one you’re promoting. Later, you’ll incorporate some of these into your book promotion copy and metadata! To find these terms you can research trending keywords using Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Planner. Also peruse book reviews in your genre to find language readers are using to describe books like the one you’re launching
Compile a list of comparable authors.
When running ad campaigns, it’s important to know what other authors your potential readers enjoy. Then you can target those readers and customize your book promotion copy accordingly. Doing this research early can help you understand how to cater your copy and ad creative to this audience. Compile a list by looking at the “Also Bought” section of a book or author’s retailer pages. You can also browse BookBub’s popular authors by genre to find authors who write similar types of books.
Research book promotion channels and tactics.
Use this time before launch to research book promotion channels and tactics that can help you best reach your target audience. The fact that you’re reading this page is a great start! You can find explanations and case studies for many book promotion tactics at the BookBub Partners Blog. Also review the metrics from your past launch campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t. Rule out strategies that didn’t effectively achieve a high ROI or broaden your exposure.
EARLY BOOK PROMOTION
There are several effective book promotion tactics that should be implemented before the preorder is even available on retailers. Doing these initial promotions can help drive early buzz for the book and lay the groundwork for a successful launch. In this section, you’ll find some initial promotional steps we’ve seen authors take either before their preorders are available, or in the early stages of their preorder campaigns.
Announce a title reveal (or book deal).
Create buzz for an upcoming book by announcing the book’s title! If you’re traditionally published, you can do this by announcing your book deal, and if your title changes, you can have a separate “title reveal” later.
EXAMPLE: Becky Albertalli published a text conversation between her book’s characters about her upcoming book’s title.
Post a cover reveal.
Partner with a publication your readers frequent to show a first-look of your cover to create early buzz. (The research you did in “The First Steps” section should help you determine which publications your readers read.) Also try to arrange to have a book available for preorder in time for its cover reveal. Then link to a page where readers can preorder their copy! This can be a great way to jumpstart preorder sales.
EXAMPLE: Tamsen Parker hosted her cover reveal on the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog.
Secure blurbs from comparable authors.
Author blurbs can catch readers’ attention, especially if they’re familiar with the author providing the blurb. Our tests showed that book descriptions including blurbs got on average about 20% higher click-through rates than those without blurbs.
TEMPLATE: Not sure how to ask for a blurb? Here is a template email you can use as a starting point!
Claim your BookBub Author Profile.
Keep your BookBub Author Profile up-to-date so fans and new readers can learn about your newest title. (If you’re launching a debut title, you can claim your Author Profile as soon it’s available for preorder on retailers.) Getting more BookBub followers can help widen your reach and ultimately increase book sales. The more followers you have, the more people will receive dedicated emails from BookBub about your new release. Plus, getting 1,000 followers unlocks the ability to send BookBub Preorder Alerts! See ideas for getting more followers here.
Build a mailing list on your website.
Include a subscription form on your website asking for visitors’ email addresses. This will let you contact readers who want to hear from you, so you can email them later about your preorder and new release. When people subscribe, send them a welcome email including a free ebook, a sneak peek, or another freebie as a “thank you” for signing up.
EXAMPLE: The primary function of Mark Dawson’s homepage is to get visitors to subscribe!
Build an author street team.
A street team is a group of fans that volunteer to promote an author. The goal of an author street team is to incite word-of-mouth buzz for a book, and they’re motivated by their love of the author’s work. If you don’t already have a street team, start building one now so members can help you spread the word as your book launch approaches. Some authors use Facebook groups to organize their street teams and recruit new members.
Create an inventory of book promotion images.
Take high-quality photos of your book, and create vibrant promotional images using free apps like Canva or RelayThat. Also consider creating a few animated GIFs that will stand out on social media. You can then use these images in your book promotion campaigns, your website, and on social media to promote the preorder and book launch.
EXAMPLE: Katherine Locke used Canva to create graphics, and hired GIFGRRL to create custom GIFs.
Test book promotion copy.
As early as you can, test and optimize your book promotion copy rather than making assumptions about what will resonate with readers. Use a polling software like PickFu to test copy variations and see which your audience likes better. Or use BookBub Ads or Facebook Ads to A/B test copy.
EXAMPLE: When M.J. Rose created taglines for her client Steve Berry, she used BookBub Ads to run A/B tests and determine which tagline would resonate best with each audience they targeted.
Create book swag.
Swag can be an effective book promotion tool, especially if it ties into the story in some way. Flat swag is the least expensive to ship! Remember: Everyone gives away bookmarks and bookplates. Consider your target audience, and think about what they would have a real use for that relates to the book.
EXAMPLE: Joan Jaytanie created small but useful and compelling swag, including jewelry and lip balm.
PREORDER BOOK PROMOTION
For a traditionally published author, a significant number of preorders can increase a print run. And early buzz may convince the publisher’s marketing team to invest more time and promotional dollars into the book’s campaigns. For a self-published author, driving preorders can trigger retailer algorithms that may help a book appear in “hot new release” lists. This can boost not only preorders, but post-publication sales. And since many retailers count preorders on release day, driving these early sales can land an author on a bestseller list after the book’s first week on sale, whether it’s traditionally or self-published. In this section, you’ll find ideas for how to drive preorder sales based on creative campaigns we’ve seen authors run!
Update your author website.
Your author website is an important book promotion tool! As soon as the book is available for preorder, update your author website with information about the new book, using prominent placement so it’s easy for readers visiting your website or blog to see what you’ll be releasing next.
EXAMPLE: Beverly Jenkins advertised her book available for preorder at the at the top of her homepage, as the first carousel banner.
Update existing books’ back matter.
If you own the rights to your ebooks, update the back matter of your existing books to promote the preorder. Authors who promote another book in their back matter see a 2.2x higher increase of sales of other books in their series than those who don’t. And those who include a 1-chapter excerpt see the highest increase in sales of the promoted book.
Send a BookBub Preorder Alert.
A Preorder Alert is a dedicated email to an author’s BookBub followers announcing that one of the author’s books is available for preorder. At only $0.02 per eligible follower, they’re a cost-effective way to drive preorder sales.
EXAMPLE: Carrie Ann Ryan sent a Preorder Alert for Inked Expressions to her 12K followers, generating an estimated 350 book sales. This $225 campaign helped drive at least $1,200 in revenue!
Offer free swag in exchange for preordering.
Giving readers an extra incentive to preorder can help build anticipation ahead of a book’s launch. Recipients also often share photos of their swag online, creating word-of-mouth buzz! Have readers email a copy, screenshot, or picture of their receipt to get the swag. Also, give everyone what you’re offering. Don’t require purchase for a contest entry.
EXAMPLE: Tiffany Schmidt created a tiered preorder offer. Readers who bought one copy got a swag pack of gummy organs (relevant to the book’s plot), a sticker, a signed bookmark, and a personal note. Readers who bought two copies got all that plus a free necklace.
Send a digital gift pack to readers who preorder.
For authors on a budget, sending swag packs via mail can get expensive. One great alternative is to send a digital gift pack to any reader who preorders. This is a nice immediate reward for readers since they can’t get the instant gratification of reading the book right away. Offer this digital pack to everyone who preorders.
EXAMPLE: Megan Crewe sent a digital gift pack to anyone who preordered A Mortal Song. It included a booklet with author commentary, an exclusive short story, a high-res poster, and other bonus content.
Send a book excerpt to readers who preorder.
Offering several chapters of a book before it’s released in exchange for the preorder provides at least some instant gratification to readers who can’t wait to read!
EXAMPLE: Lysa TerKeurst sent the first five chapters of her book Uninvited to readers who preordered.
Send a previous book’s deleted scene to readers who preorder.
For authors who’d rather not send an excerpt from the upcoming book, another idea is to send a deleted or bonus scene from a previous book. This could be an enticing incentive for that book’s biggest fans!
EXAMPLE: Katie McGarry offered readers a bonus scene from Pushing the Limits to readers who preordered Walk the Edge.
Promote the preorder via BookBub Ads.
You can run BookBub Ads for any book — including preorders — without going through an editorial selection process. These ads reach BookBub’s millions of power readers in various places throughout the BookBub platform. Target by comparable authors, category interest, retailer preference, and region to reach the most relevant power readers for your title.
EXAMPLE: CD Reiss ran a BookBub Ads campaign targeting her existing fans to let them know her new book was available for preorder. She drove 793 clicks at a 3.3% click-through rate for only $221.
Update your social media header images.
An author’s social media images — such as on Facebook and Twitter — offer a great branding opportunity for a book available for preorder. Updating a Facebook page’s cover photo also makes it appear on fans’ newsfeeds (as determined by Facebook’s algorithm). This can be a great way to notify fans of a preorder’s availability.
EXAMPLE: Harlan Coben and Danielle Walker both updated their Twitter header images to promote their books available for preorder.
Promote the preorder to your mailing list.
Let your mailing list know that the preorder is available for purchase to help drive sales. Some authors send their subscribers an exclusive look at the first chapter to get them excited.
EXAMPLE: Heather Sunseri sent an email to subscribers notifying them of her newest preorder. She included the first chapter in the email itself to hook subscribers. After the excerpt, she included a link to read the first seven chapters of the book, as well as retailer links so readers could preorder it right away.
Give away ARCs to drive early reviews.
While users can’t review preorder books on some retailer sites (e.g. Amazon), they can leave reviews on other sites like BookBub, on their blogs, or on social media. You can start getting reviews while a book is still available for preorder by giving away ARCs. Some authors run giveaways on their blog or social media profiles to provide ARCs to their most loyal fans.
EXAMPLE: Julie James ran a giveaway for her book The Thing About Love on her Facebook page. She included preorder links in the description for people who wanted to order their copy right away!
Give ARCs to relevant bloggers and reviewers.
Use tools like NetGalley or Edelweiss to find early reviewers, or reach out to relevant bloggers with a pitch. Also consider reaching out to people who’ve reviewed books similar to yours on sites like BookBub, Amazon, and Goodreads. They’ve proven themselves to be experienced reviewers. They know what makes a good review, often write helpful reviews, and will likely have a quick turnaround.
EXAMPLE: Find verified reviewers who’ve reviewed similar books to yours on Amazon.
Run a fan art contest.
Encourage fans to upload fan art of a character or scene from a previous book to your blog or Facebook page. You could also have them share it using a hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Choose a winner to receive an ARC of the upcoming book as a prize. Then get permission to use that fan art in your book promotions!
EXAMPLES: V.E. Schwab and her publisher ran a fan art contest for A Darker Shade of Magic. Winners received ARCS of her upcoming book A Gathering of Shadows.
Add a free ebook sampler to retailers.
Upload the sampler as its own ebook with a separate product page. Make it clear in the title and description that this is just a sample — the first chapter or first few chapters — to avoid disappointing readers. On the last page, include a link to the full copy’s retailer page so readers can preorder.
EXAMPLE: David Baldacci’s publisher gave away the first nine chapters of Guilty as a sampler on Amazon.
Create countdown social media posts.
Build excitement by creating countdown images for social media, and regularly remind fans of the launch date (while encouraging them to preorder). One month, one week, and one day are generally good milestones to announce to build excitement.
EXAMPLES: Debbie Macomber and Lauren Blakely each created countdown graphics to post on Instagram and Facebook in anticipation of their upcoming releases.
Submit for a BookBub Featured New Release.
Featured New Release emails are curated lists of new releases hand-selected by BookBub’s editorial team and targeted by category, so they reach all the BookBub members who have opted into that genre. These weekly emails include links to purchase the new book at readers’ retailers of choice. While New Release Alerts provide exposure to an author’s followers, Featured New Releases expand that reach to a much broader audience of BookBub readers.
EXAMPLE: A Featured New Release for Stephen King’s The Outsider drove 1.5K sales at $14.99.
LAUNCH DAY BOOK PROMOTION
Congratulations! It’s your book birthday! In addition to celebrating, there are lots of creative ways you can promote a new release on launch day. In this section, you’ll find examples from a wide range of authors promoting their book launch. These campaigns either took place on launch day, or very soon after. Remember: You don’t have to do them all! Pick the strategies that will best resonate with your unique audience.
Make sure your book gets a BookBub New Release Alert.
If you haven’t already, add the new book to your BookBub Author Profile! You can do this as soon as the preorder or product page is live on retailer sites. This will ensure that your BookBub followers automatically receive a New Release Alert when the book launches.
Update your author website branding.
Publicize the new book on your author website by updating the header or banners of your homepage to increase awareness among website visitors. Also, on launch day, make sure to update any “preorder now” copy with “buy now” copy.
EXAMPLE: Elizabeth Gilbert’s homepage boasts her newest release. She also includes retailer links, social sharing icons, and a hashtag for readers to use on social media.
Add retailer links to your author website.
Make it as easy as possible for visitors checking out your website to purchase your newest title wherever they shop! Add the new title to your books page, and be diligent about updating the retailer links as necessary. For example, if the book becomes more widely available after its release, add those new links.
EXAMPLE: Gillian Flynn has a buy button for each book that opens a lightbox. Here, readers can select their preferred format and retailer.
Send a book promotion to your mailing list.
Email your mailing list about the book launch to remind them that the book is available for sale now. Some readers may not have preordered, since they prefer the instant gratification of buying and receiving the book right away.
EXAMPLE: Debbie Macomber sent an email to her mailing list on launch day, and asked her publisher Random House to send an email blast to their reading lists as well!
Run a price promotion for a previous title.
Run a price promotion for the previous series book or another backlist title to help drive sales for the new book — and link to the new title in the discounted book’s back matter. 89% of BookBub partners who discounted an older book to market a new release sold more of their new book after the promotion!
EXAMPLE: When Jules Barnard launched Tempting Levi, she ran a BookBub Featured Deal for the last book in her previous series, Cocky Prince. Tempting Levi hit the USA Today bestseller list and sold more copies than any of her other titles in their first week!
Host a release party on Facebook.
Host a virtual party via a Facebook event for those who can’t celebrate with you in person! In the event, run a contest so fans can win prizes, such as a free copy of the book, swag, posters, and more.
EXAMPLE: Rita Stradling hosted a release day party on Facebook to celebrate the launch of Colorless. There were games, prizes, freebies, a Kindle Fire giveaway, and more.
Promote the launch via BookBub Ads.
You can run BookBub Ads for any book without going through an editorial selection process. These ads appear at the bottom of BookBub’s daily emails and on BookBub’s website. Target by comparable authors, category interest, retailer preference, and region to reach the most relevant power readers for your title.
EXAMPLE: Lauren Blakely ran BookBub Ads for her new release Mister O and hit the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists!
Stream a live Q&A on Facebook or YouTube.
Celebrate the book launch with fans by streaming a live Q&A on Facebook or YouTube! When you begin a Facebook Live or YouTube stream, people who’ve liked your page or subscribed to your channel get a notification. Afterward, the video is available for anyone to watch later.
EXAMPLE: Debbie Macomber regularly streams Facebook Live Q&As, so check out her page to see an example.
Pre-record a Q&A video.
If streaming live seems scary or overwhelming, you can pre-record a Q&A as well. Have fans send questions ahead of time, and answer them later via a pre-recorded video on your YouTube channel or Facebook page.
EXAMPLE: John Green asked fans to send questions directly to his Snapchat account, and answered them later on his YouTube channel.
Ask other authors to recommend the new book on BookBub.
Consider asking an author who loved your new book to post a recommendation on BookBub.com, which might encourage their fans to give it a whirl! You can also engage with people who comment on the recommendation to build rapport with potential readers. If a fellow author recommends one of your books, pay it forward by posting a recommendation for a book you love.
EXAMPLE: Lisa Gardner recommended Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone on BookBub. This recommendation drove 80+ sales at $14.99!
Share pictures from your IRL celebrations on social media.
As you can see, there are a lot of online promotions you can do on launch day — but you might also be celebrating the book launch in real life! Whether you’re hosting a book launch party, participating in a signing, or visiting a school, make sure to snap some pictures. Then you can share them with your virtual fans who also want to celebrate with you.
EXAMPLE: Young adult author Nic Stone tweeted a picture from her launch day event at a high school, showing appreciation for her former teachers.
Thank your readers.
Your book birthday is an exciting day, and the culmination of a huge accomplishment. But remember to take a moment to thank your fans! Voice your appreciation for their excitement, loyalty, and evangelism. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way.
EXAMPLE: On launch day for What If It’s Us, co-author Adam Silvera tweeted thanks to his fans for all their excitement and support several times.
POST-LAUNCH BOOK PROMOTION
Promotion shouldn’t end once a book is finally out in the wild — it’s important to maintain the momentum in the weeks and months following its launch as well! With a little creativity and persistence, you can continue promoting a book to reach new readers after its release day. While a long-term book promotion strategy could be a guide of its own, this section provides some examples of book promotions we’ve seen authors run in the month following their launch.
Cross-promote with comparable authors.
Cross-promoting books with other authors can be an effective strategy to reach more readers. For example, if your imprint or group of friends has three fantasy books featuring fae, coordinate price promos, themed blog posts, and social media parties. Packaging these books promotionally helps each book gain exposure across the other authors’ platforms.
EXAMPLE: Maggie Hall coordinated with 15 other young adult authors to run a giveaway offering 16 signed books on Tumblr.
Participate in podcast interviews.
Podcasts have soared in popularity over the past few years, and many of them are always looking for fresh guests. You can look for book-related podcasts (for readers or for authors) or other shows that may fit your niche.
EXAMPLE: Eliot Peper, an indie science fiction and techno thriller novelist, has secured features on relevant tech podcasts, including This New Economy and Techdirt.
Regularly recommend other authors’ books.
Recommending a book on sites like BookBub is a fun and easy way to connect with BookBub’s community of enthusiastic power readers. It can also help you stay top-of-mind with your followers — they’ll see your recommendation in their feeds on BookBub.com or in their weekly digest email. Plus, it opens up fantastic opportunities to promote fellow authors and help them get discovered.
EXAMPLE: AlTonya Washington regularly recommends books she loves on BookBub, both in her romance genre and others her readers might enjoy!
Share pictures of other authors’ books.
Regularly show off friends’ beautiful book covers on social media sites — whether coordinated or as a show of goodwill. These other authors might even return the favor!
EXAMPLES: Many authors post fun pictures of books they recommend on Instagram using relevant hashtags like #bookstagram or #bookshelf. These books are often artfully showcased in front of a creative backdrop, or posed with a cute animal.
Participate on author panels.
Speaking on panels at book conferences is a sure way to gain exposure to fans of the other authors on the panel, whether they’re readers at consumer conferences or fellow authors at writing conferences. If flying solo on stage sounds too intimidating, participating on a panel might be a more comfortable option for you!
Post fun photos of the book on social media.
Regularly post fun images of the new release on social media. Repetition is important for sparking reader recognition! For example, take the book along for a ride and photograph it in front of scenic backdrops. Bonus points if the location is relevant to the book’s plot!
EXAMPLE: Karina Hale posted pictures of her book on Instagram in a variety of locations.
Publish posts on sites like BuzzFeed & Medium.
Write a clever or funny tie-in to your book. The article you write can either be entirely about the book, a “which character are you” quiz, or an indirectly related listicle.
For example, a romance author can write a post on “10 Sizzling Beaches Where You Can Read Steamy Romances” and incorporate her book into the post.
Create a relevant video series.
Video can be a great book promotion tool. Create mini documentaries on a book, or get more creative. For example, for a chick lit book featuring a hairdresser protagonist, create a cute video series of hair tutorials featuring hairstyles from the book. For a middle grade mystery featuring a magician, create a magic trick tutorial series. Publish the videos on YouTube and your other social channels.
EXAMPLE: Johanna Basford published a relevant, fun series of coloring book tutorials.
Run targeted book promotions with social media ads.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience based on preferences users have expressed on those social platforms. This lets you advertise the book to people interested in similar books or genres.
Sign up as a HARO source.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects journalists with relevant experts, and you are the expert of your niche! By signing up, you’ll receive an email three times per day that includes media opportunities in which you could be quoted. Reply quickly for the best chance of getting selected for a quote in an article, and ask for a link back to your site.
Hold book signings at stores and festivals.
Signings can help drive word-of-mouth exposure and reviews. Don’t feel obligated to give away your books for free. Many authors sell books at their signings — purchase a checkout tool like Square to process credit card transactions at a cost of 2.75% per swipe.
EXAMPLE: When he attended San Diego Comic-Con, Daniel José Older posted photos on Instagram of him signing his newest title for fans.
Want to share this guide? Here are ready-made tweets:
Click to tweet: Wow! Check out this FANTASTIC guide on how to launch and promote a new book. #WritingCommunity http://bit.ly/2I3zXEf
Click to tweet: Author friends, are you launching a new book soon? If so, you have to see this guide! http://bit.ly/2I3zXEf