The book publicity timeline
I spent a goodly amount of time the other day copying 200 press releases and folding them because I’d missed my department’s deadline for sending the releases to the printing house to be copied. The book is a paperback reprint we’re publishing in April, but in publishing we work so far ahead of time that three months early can be late.
Although timing will differ slightly from house to house, here are some common deadlines. (This is the 30-second — actually, make that the 10-second — version of book publicity, since I don’t want to write a book now and you don’t want to read one. At least not here and now, at any rate.) If you do want to read an actual tome about publicity you can try books like Publicize Your Book, The Savvy Author’s Guide to Book Publicity or Publicity: 7 Steps to Publicize Just About Anything — none of which I’ve read, by the way, but I like the titles.
Four-six months before publication:
Publicists: Mail galleys to long-lead media outlets (including monthly magazines and trade publications).
If you’re not a publicist: Make sure to share your thoughts about the book’s promotion with the publicity department. For example, what do you think are the book’s key points? What would attract readers’ attention? (And the attention of journalists?) What’s the target demographic? (Is there a demographic we should be pitching that is not immediately obvious?) What ideas do you have to market and promote the book? In what media outlets would you like to see the book covered? (Yes, we’ve heard of Oprah. And The Today Show.)
If you would like galleys sent to your personal media contacts (some authors will have more than others depending on their profession), you should let the publicist know earlier rather than later. Although it may make sense to wait to send the finished book to certain people (rather than the galley), if the publicist has the names early, then s/he can make that determination. FYI, you cannot approach the same person to blurb and review the book for reasons that should be becoming obvious to you right now — if they didn’t already occur to you.
Also, a book’s web presence (website, blog and / or social networking profile) should be established so that journalists can find information online when they receive galleys.
Publicists: Schedule bookstore events (if an event is appropriate for the book).
If you’re not a publicist: Make sure the publicist knows about any significant markets and / or bookstores. Make sure your schedule is clear around the time of the book’s publication (and if it’s not because, say, you’ve won a trip to the moon, let the publicist know). Bookstores need time to organize and promote events (both online as well as in print newsletters) and they often won’t schedule events with less than two months notice. If friends have promised to organize events, get in touch with them and keep the publicist apprised of what’s going on — keep in mind that most bookstores don’t have the staff to sell books at offsite events (like your friends’ parties) if fewer than about 100 people attend.
Four-six weeks before publication:
Publicists: Mail finished books to the media.
If you’re not a publicist: Publishing houses receive finished books (called “bound books” four-six weeks before the publication date of the book). This gives us a head start to get finished books to the media before they appear on shelves. Basically, everything you should have done before *really* needs to be completed now.
And that’s my 10-second spiel. Which can pretty much be summarized as: it’s never too early.
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Fall 2012: I’ve really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but I’ve — reluctantly — come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the time to maintain this blog.
I imagine there is some information that will remain the same and that will remain useful, but there is much more that is or will become out of date, so please keep that in mind if you find yourself perusing my posts.
For some time now, I’ve closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry. Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought I’d set up a book publicity blog. The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency. Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.
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