by Patricia Fry
Promote Your Book
Congratulations! You're the proud author of your first (or twenty-first)
book. Before you start celebrating--even before you start writing that
book--you should be planning your marketing strategy. Because that wonderful
book that you dedicated months of your life to write, won't bring in enough
money to buy a roll of stamps unless you promote it. And that's true whether
your book is self-published or you have a traditional publisher.
There are numerous ways to promote a book. But authors have to think beyond
Oprah Winfrey's Book Club and sales through the mega bookstores. One of my
favorite promotional tools is the magazine article. Just imagine how many
people you can reach through magazines and it's free advertisement. In fact,
you can even earn money writing informative, useful articles for print and web
Many popular magazines use book excerpts. Of course, they generally want
excerpts from books that relate to their magazine-- a cooking magazine wants
excerpts from cookbooks, a travel magazine will quote travel books and a poetry
magazine wants to excerpt poetry books.
Use your imagination to come up with more possibilities. If your book
features Native American art, for example, a California history or travel
magazine might be interested in publishing your chapter on California tribes.
An excerpt from a book on tax tips for home-based businesses might provide a
good article for a writer's magazine.
Submit articles on topics only remotely related to your book and still
promote it. I wrote a book called _Creative Grandparenting Across the Miles:
Ideas for Sharing Love, Faith and Family Traditions_. Now I'm considered an
expert on grandparenting issues. I've sold articles featuring storytelling
techniques for grandparents, how to teach grandchildren money awareness, how
grandparents can uphold family traditions and tips for helping grandparents
bond with their new grandbaby. But I can also plug my book even if I'm writing
an article about snails, caregiving, the empty nest syndrome or scrapbooking.
For the snail piece, I might mention that when I was writing the
grandparenting book, I met a grandfather who paid his 5-year-old grandson a
penny-a-piece to catch his garden snails in a bucket. Likewise, I could draw a
relating story from the book to use in the caregiving and empty nest articles.
For the scrapbook article, I could suggest that scrapbooking is a great way for
grandparents and grandchildren to bond and then, of course, I'd introduce my
I've also used articles to promote my book, _The Mainland Luau: How to
Capture the Flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard_. There are the obvious
articles: "Eight Ways to Roast a Pig," "Recipes for Your
Backyard Luau," "Fresh-Flower Lei-making," "The Family
Reunion Luau" and "Tips for Learning the Hawaiian Language." And
there are the obscure: How about a piece on early culture comparisons for an
ethnic or history magazine, flower arranging for a floral or gardening
magazine, examining the lost continent of Lemuria (now the Hawaiian Islands)
for a travel, history or New Age magazine or the mechanics of writing a how-to
book for a writer's magazine. Do you see how I could promote the luau book in
any of these articles?
You can almost always get a tag line at the end of an article. Use this as
an opportunity to promote your book. I often write, "Patricia Fry is the
author of several books including _Creative Grandparenting Across the Miles;
Ideas For Sharing Love, Faith and Family Traditions_ (Liguori Publications,
800-325-9521). If the topic of the article more closely relates to the luau
book, the metaphysical book or one of my local history books, I promote those,
Of course, the most effective articles for marketing your book are those
relying on your expertise. I've written articles as an expert on the importance
of grandparents in a child's life, how to be a better grandparent, tips for
traveling with your grandchildren, long-distance grandparenting, how parents
can help strengthen the relationship between their child and the grandparents,
how real life grandparents relate to their grandchildren today and how to
choose gifts for grandchildren. Anyone interested in reading one of these
articles will most likely want to read my book.
Many magazine editors reject articles that blatantly promote a product, so
keep your article from sounding like a sales pitch for your book. Simply write
a useful and informative article suitable to a particular magazine and mention
your book where appropriate.
Expect to be paid anywhere from $50 to $1,000 for an article based on your
book, depending on the magazine and how the editors view and choose to use your
article. You might also be asked to give away some of your promotional pieces.
And why not, if it means having them published in a national magazine that's
read by anywhere from 20,000 to 500,000 people?
By now, you probably have dozens of ideas for marketing your book through
articles. To come up with even more: * Study a variety of magazines from cover
to cover. * List as many topics related to your book as you can. * Brainstorm
with your friends and family.
Do articles sell books? I believe so. I've sold (and given away) dozens of
articles based on the luau book and have, as a result, made a lot of book
sales. Less than a year after self-publishing _The Mainland Luau_, I reprinted
it. A year later, my stock was running low again and, because of my good sales
record, I had an offer that I couldn't resist from Island Heritage Publishing
Company in Hawaii. Now they publish and distribute this book.
Before you start madly writing articles and sending them out to magazines
far and wide, do some research. Develop a plan. Here are some tips to help you
- Study the market. Use "Writer's Market" to learn which magazines
are looking for articles on what topics. Writer's Market also offers guidelines
for writers: how to submit the article, whether the magazine wants the complete
manuscript of a query letter, contact person, address, etc.
- Research the magazines. Request a copy of the magazine for which you want
to write and study it from cover to cover. Notice what type of articles they
publish, the slant and tone. Request a copy of their Writer's Guidelines and
follow them in preparing your article or query.
- Write a query letter. Most editors want to see a query letter first. A
query letter includes: a brief synopsis of the article idea, why you think the
topic is of importance of interest to their readers, a list of experts you plan
to interview, your qualifications for writing the article and your writing
credits. Keep the letter to one page if possible.
- Keep good records. Record every transaction with each magazine.
Writing a book is fun. Promoting it can be terrifying and intimidating.
That's why I recommend to authors that they start their book promotion efforts
doing something they love--writing.
Copyright (c) 2000, Patricia Fry
Patricia Fry has been writing for publication for 27
years, having contributed hundreds of articles to about 125 different
magazines, including Writer's Digest, Freelance Writer's Report, Canadian
Author, Writer's Journal, Entrepreneur, Woman's Own, Cats, Teaching Tolerance,
Kiwanis Magazine and many, many others. Fry is also the author of ten books
including "A Writer's Guide to Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and
Profit" and "Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your