GET YOUR BOOK THE ATTENTION IT DESERVES
You wrote it...now promote it.

After years of researching, writing, rewriting, revising, editing, and generally spending every spare moment on it, your book is finished and about to be published. While it may be tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and pour all your remaining energy into the other ten projects you're working on, don't push your baby out of the nest without giving it the best possible chance to fly.
                               
Partner with your publisher. On the one hand, your publisher has a vested interest in your book's success. On the other hand, your publisher has a vested interest in lots of other books. So it's best not to sit back and assume that the publisher will exhaust every possible method for promoting yours. As soon as possible, start a conversation with the folks publishing your book about their marketing plans. Keep in touch with them before, during, and after the book's release and find out what they're doing to spread the word. More importantly, find out what they're not doing and make plans to fill those gaps yourself.

Contact the Moravian public relations office! We'll make sure your book is promoted within the Moravian community and to outside media outlets. When you get in touch, let us know of any media contacts you have who might help spread the word. And tell us who to talk with at your publisher's office, so we can coordinate our efforts with theirs. You can reach Moravian PR at news@moravian.edu or call Michael Wilson at 610-861-1365.

Reach out to your readers. Who are the readers most likely to be interested in your book? What special interest groups—professional and academic associations, hobbyist groups and online communities, volunteer groups and nonprofit agencies—have members whose interests overlap with your topic? If your book is an academic publication, who besides those in the same discipline might have an interest? Answer these questions, then find ways to inform these potential readers about your book. Your publisher can help you reach some of them. Moravian PR can also help. But be prepared to reach out on your own, too. Post messages on their blogs and web sites, place adds in their newsletters and publications, offer to speak at their meetings and events.

Err on the early side. Better late than never, but better early than late. Media outlets pay the most attention to a new book during the first month that it's released: before that, readers can't get their hands on it; after that, it feels like old news. But in order for that timely book review or newspaper article to happen, the reviewer or reporter needs to know about your book weeks or months in advance. Some writers start sending teaser press releases a full year before the publication date, even before they've finished writing the book itself. A good six months or more before publication, talk to your publisher about getting galleys or advance copies into the right hands. That's also a good time to let Moravian PR know what you're up to.

Keep a writing diary. Experiences that happen while you're researching and writing your book can become hooks to catch the attention of writers, reporters and editors. They also make good anecdotes to share during book readings or speaking engagements. Did you go to any interesting places or speak to any unusual people? What challenges did you overcome? Even if you don't have the time or inclination to maintain a detailed journal, jot down enough details so you'll remember later.

Create a short version. You get into an elevator and there's Oprah standing there. And the CEO of Barnes & Noble. And the president-elect of the American [your discipline here] Association. Can you tell them, before they get off at the next floor, what your book's about and why they should care? If not, create a brief description of your book that describes it in terms a lay reader could understand. Explain not only the content of the book, but why that content is important. Try it out in conversations with friends, family, and colleagues so you'll be ready when it's time to speak with reporters, editors, and potential readers. Be sure your publisher and the Moravian PR department have a written version, no longer than a paragraph or two. Send it to any journalists who inquire, and make it available on your web site (see below).

Get with the net. Print and electronic media needn't be at odds; in fact, many writers find that a web site for their book is a tremendous promotional tool. Features can include:

Excerpts and images from the book.

Extra content: annotations, pictures or diagrams that didn't fit in the published version; links to material referenced in the book.

Answers to frequently asked questions, including questions journalists and reviewers might ask.

Story ideas for journalists. Include suggestions of broad topics that your book relates too. For example, if you've written a monograph on the life cycle of coniferous trees, a reporter doing a seasonal story on Christmas trees might be interested in interviewing you.

News and events. Keep an updated listing of any speaking engagements, public readings or other promotional activities you're doing. Also provide links to book reviews and other press coverage.

A blog. You can use your blog to stir up interest in your book before it's published, and also to engage in a dialog with readers and potential readers once the book is out. If you've never blogged before, Moravian's PR department can set one up for you.

A means to buy the book. Usually this is a direct link to the book's page on an online book selling site, like amazon.com. Your publisher may also have a sale page that you can link to.

Need an expert to help you creating your web page? Check with colleagues and friends whose web sites you like to see who worked on theirs. Moravian's PR department can offer suggestions as well.

More information:

Rachel Toor's Page Proof column on the Chronicle of Higher Education web site offers advice for academics about writing and getting published. "The 'So What' Problem" discusses the importance of explaining your book in brief, jargon-free language.

"How To Be An Author" describes several ways for academic authors to promote their books. Chronicle of Higher Education, January 18, 2008. (Online version requires a subscription and password.)

New to blogging? Check out these tips for beginners.

For an example of an author's web site that does lots of heavy lifting, see www.gravematters.us, created by author Mark Harris (who provided much of the advice given above).