How Do You Create a Timeline for Book Publicity?

To create a plan for book promotion, you will need to start with setting a publication date. Understandably, there is a great deal of confusion about what a publication date – or pub date – really is.

A pub date is an “official release” – usually at least 6 weeks after a book comes off press. In some ways, this is a phantom date, as it is an approximate date when books will be available in stores. A pub date is an important part of planning a PR Campaign for your books, as it facilitates coordinating media placements and in-store availability. The pub date functions as a means of tying the book promotion and distribution together.

Some publishers will set a pub date based on a particular event or time of year. If your book deals with history, a particular event, or an anniversary of an event, you may want to consider setting your pub date to coincide with that time or event.

Is your book a holiday book?  If so, set your pub date so that it corresponds with the holidays.

If there isn’t a particular event that is associated with your book, plan the pub date so that you have adequate time both to promote the book and get it in stores.

Once you have set your pub date, it is time to put together a plan.  Be sure to allow plenty of time.

For example, here are some ideas on planning a PR campaign for an as-yet-to-be-released book :

6-8 months in advance of pub date (or longer if possible):
Solicit Long lead magazine coverage (glossy monthly magazines, journals, quarterlies)

4-6 months in advance of pub date:
Solicit coverage with sell-in publications (primarily book and library trade magazines), major reviewers, and larger major national shows

1-2 months in advance of publication date and beyond:
Work to obtain shorter lead print media coverage in newspapers, news services, newsletters, internet media, as well as broadcast – radio and television – media

Please note that each media outlet is different and these are guidelines only. You may find opportunities to get coverage in a longer lead magazine after your pub date, and you may have interview requests prior to the pub date.  It is important to be open to the opportunities that come your way but do guard against getting “too much” coverage before your book is available. Remember the rule of supply and demand. Media creates demand. Be certain that there is supply to match the demand.

Maryglenn McCombs is an independent book promotions specialist based in Nashville.  For more information, please visit or email Maryglenn at: