Your Book Promotion Plan

Writing a book without a promotion plan is like driving a car with the windows painted over and no brakes. It will only get you as far as the nearest stationary object. But new authors are sometimes intimidated by the prospect of promoting their first book. It may seem impossible to:

  • Know all you need to know about promotion
  • Build your nationwide publishing and field networks
  • Develop a promotion plan
  • Promote your book from coast to coast

And you must still find the time and energy to write books! But thousands of writers who aren’t as smart, creative, and determined as you are do it every year. Believe us when we assure you: If they can, you can.

Marketing people are territorial. Your promotion plan will cover everything you will do to market your books. But marketing people don’t like writers infringing on their territory, which includes marketing to the book trade as well as the consumer marketing that you will be doing. Since you will need the support of your publisher’s marketing department, we recommend calling it a “promotion plan.”

Although your promotion plan should be flexible enough to change as you learn what works best for you and respond to new opportunities, your plan is the foundation of the campaign you will wage for your book’s success.

It will be the blueprint of your plan to transform yourself from an unknown author into one of the top players in your field, with an unbroken string of successful books, all of which sell each other. Your plan will also be the model for the plans you create for future books.

This approach to promotion is based on the premise that you are writing either novels or nonfiction books, such as how-to books, big-idea or big-issue books, or biographies of well-known people, for a large segment of the general public.

If you are writing reference books, serious books about science, or gift or novelty books that will be impulse items, or if you will be happy being published by a small house, niche publisher, or university press, you won’t need a plan as well developed or as powerful as the one we recommend. After your first book, your publisher will know what you can do, so you won’t need as detailed a promotion plan.

Follow the 90/10 Rule: spend 90 percent of your time and effort taking a steady, gradual approach, working to establish yourself solidly at one level before trying to move up to the next. But also spend 10 percent of your time and energy on the long shots: the best-known magazines, the biggest book publishers, or the major producers. If you succeed, the strategy will pay off handsomely; if you fail, you’ve only lost a small investment of your time. -SCOTT EDELSTEIN

All publishers want their books to embody exciting new ideas captured in a fresh, seductive voice. However, if you want to be published by one of the big houses, and you’re writing nonfiction books, your promotion plans will be far more important than the content of your books in determining which lucky publisher buys them and for how much.

Although novelists aren’t expected to include promotion plans with their manuscripts, having a plan is a necessity. The head of a major mystery imprint reported that for every mystery she buys, there are ten she could have bought. With that kind of competition, a promotion plan that convinces editors about a novelist’s commitment to her books can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Author101 Newsletter”
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