book promotion timing

Book promotion timing: Implement these 9 strategies as soon as you’ve finished the first draft

What's the best book promotion timing? As soon as possible. Take these 9 steps long before your book launch.

I’ve lost track of the number of authors I’ve heard from who waited until their e-book was available on Amazon or they had boxes of books stacked in a corner before they started thinking about book promotion.

Only when they’re ready to start accepting money for their page-turner, how-to, or memoir do they start to think about who might buy the book and how those people will discover it.

Don’t make this mistake.

You want to start laying the groundwork for the most intense activity around a book launch long before your book goes live on retail sites.

You want to start laying the groundwork for the most intense activity around a book launch long before your book goes live on retail sites.Click to tweet

The best book promotion timing is now

While it’s true that your world isn’t going to stop spinning if you wait until your book is available for purchase to start the book promotion process, you’ll be at a disadvantage if that’s your approach.

Book promotion requires knowledge, networks, and connections. Acquiring them takes time. If you want your book to sell as soon as it’s available, you need all three in place.

With that in mind, here are nine things you can do as soon as you finish that first draft so your book promotion timing is as optimal as possible for most.

1. Learn as much as you can about book marketing, publicity, and promotion.

Even if you have traditional publishing support, your in-house publicist can’t do everything that needs to be done.

If you want people to discover your book, you have to be involved.

And indie authors? It’s all on you.

Get smarter by reading a book or taking a course.

2. Research your target audience — your ideal readers. 

Learn as much as you can about the person who is most likely to buy your book.

Once you can picture your audience “avatar” – the one individual who best represents someone who will love your book – do more research to find out where they spend time both online and off.

3. Build a following on social networks your audience uses.

Pick the one or two social media platforms that are most popular with your audience and learn as much as you can about how to use them effectively.

Note that just because you have a presence on a social network doesn’t mean you’re using it properly. Double-check your skills and knowledge.

book promotion timing 2

4. Connect with bloggers. 

Virtual book tours (author blog tours) are common and popular elements of online book launches.

When you “go” on a virtual book tour, you’ll ask bloggers to share content related to your book on their blogs – a guest post or Q&A, an audio or video interview, a book review, and so on.

They’re easier to schedule and more successful when bloggers already know who you are.

Get that familiarity by commenting on blogs on your book’s topic or that influence your readers. Share their posts, but even more importantly, contribute to the conversation by commenting on them. Over time, the bloggers will recognize your name.

New to virtual book tours? Download my free “Virtual Book Tour Basics: How to Connect with Your Audience and Sell More Books Without Leaving Home” guide!

5. Build an email list.

Smart authors are leaning into email marketing.

Why? Because:

  • You own the contact information on your list. That’s not the case with your social media connections that can disappear if a platform folds or you get kicked off.
  • People see your emails. You can’t say that about all of your social media posts.
  • It’s one of the best options for reader engagement.
  • Subscribers are an excellent source of beta readers and street team members.
  • and lots more

You’ll use your opt-in e-mail list to send an e-mail announcing your book, but you’d be smart to use it to stay in touch with subscribers on a regular basis, too. (Add yourself to the lists of successful authors to see how they’re doing it.)

Remember that for anything other than a one-time communication, you must get permission to add someone’s address to your list. Don’t add people to your list just because you added yourself to theirs.

6. Compile a list of “key influencers.”

Who is most influential with your book’s target audience? You’ll want to ask them to “blurb” your book with a testimonial you’ll use on the cover, inside the book, and on sales pages.

Start identifying them and gathering contact information.

You might know — or know of — some of them already, but you’ll want to expand that list. When I sought blurbers for Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions, I contacted people I did and didn’t know. I received testimonials from both groups.

book promotion timing 3

7. Create your book launch media list.

You’ll send review copies and a book announcement press release to the media outlets that are most likely to review the book or schedule an interview with you.

Start building that distribution list now. Help them become familiar with you by commenting on and sharing their content.

8. Create a Facebook Page.

I’m not a big fan of Facebook pages for authors because Facebook limits who will see your posts unless you pay to boost them.

They work better for other types of businesses – especially local retailers who can use them to post store hours and special sales or offer coupons.

On the other hand, you need one if you want to advertise on Facebook (and many of you will). And, once you get a following, you’ll have access to audience demographics that you can use to improve your overall marketing.

So create it now and do the work to get followers. Create content that’s relevant and engaging — solicit opinions on your book’s topic, re-post interesting information, share progress updates, ask fans to vote on cover options, and so on.

9. Add your book title to your email signature. 

Put your email signature to work. It’s a simple and effective way to get your book title in front of anyone you send email to.

It doesn’t get any easier than just typing your book’s title after the word “Author.”

Book’s not out yet? Add “coming in [month].”

Don’t worry if book promotion timing isn’t ideal

In an ideal world, you’ll be doing some of this while you’re writing the book. More often than not, though, that doesn’t happen.

A more realistic approach for most is to start this work six months before the launch. That seems to be book promotion timing that’s doable for most.

Why not start with the easiest first? Add your book title to your email signature now. Then decide which of the remaining eight tactics will make the biggest difference at this stage of your book’s life.

Just don’t wait any longer to take action. Your book needs it!

What else would you add to the early promotion task list? Did you do any of this before publishing? Please share your feedback in a comment. 

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in July 2015. It has been updated and expanded.)

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  1. Yay! I’m glad to say that thanks to Sandy’s great info on her site and in the course I signed up for, I’ve done 8 of these 9 for a book that should be out by the end of the month. 🙂

  2. Hi Sandy,

    It’s scary for most authors to do, but I recommend preselling your book on your website as soon as you have confirmed the cover. That may be months before it’s available, but it can help create momentum. It’s important to make the projected date clear, of course, so the eager reader isn’t disappointed when your book doesn’t land on his porch the next day.

  3. As a new author this is great information because I do have a book coming out Feb. 9th 2015 and I must say that I’m overwhelmed at what all goes into promoting it! I do have a FB page and a fan page. I have not established an email list but that’s next, and I need to research my target audience more as well. This is very helpful information, thank you Sandra!


    1. I’m so glad it was helpful, Thalia! Thanks for letting me know. There’s a lot to learn, but try not to let it overwhelm you. Set priorities, and just tackle one new thing at a time. Good luck!


  4. This is a great list, Sandra, thank you. I think all I would add is to prepare a list of book stores (dwindling though they may be) for book signings, and your favourite place to do your launch (however modest that might be), so you don’t have to wait weeks or more to get a place after the book is launched. This is especially true for your second book onwards. Of course this is for paper copies.

  5. I plan to offer the first chapter as a preview on my website as soon as I have the ARCs. I have a list of people for paper and electronic ARCs, so I’m ready to send out copies for review ASAP. And I’ll send the book to Kirkus and Publishers Weekly for reviews.

    1. These are all great tips, Betsy. You’re so right about starting early. And using a blog tour company to organize your blog tour can really help you reach new audiences.

      1. Thanks, Natalie. Do you have a favorite blog tour company? With so many scammers around, it always helps to know who’s the “real deal.”


  6. These are really great ideas. I’m a budding writer, so these suggestions will help a lot. I’m glad I started researching about promoting now, and compiled a list of things I need to do before I start marketing my book.

  7. Hi Sandra,

    This is a very useful & beneficial article. Indeed, many authors start ‘too late’ in the book marketing process. These ‘steps’ are essential for developing a successful book launch. It cannot be emphasized enough how important having a marketing plan is before getting started and these strategies should be part of that marketing plan. I’ll be sure to share this article with my friends and audience/tribe.


  8. Sandra,

    These are excellent ideas. Thank you. I love checklists and guidelines.

    Here’s my challenge. I have two ebooks (already published) to promote (a how-to and an inspirational book) and three more written and ready for final polishing before publication (all three books are close to my heart, a young-adult novel, a memoir, and a self-transformation book). I also have products to repurpose (two bestsellers from a few years ago).

    I don’t “suffer” from too few opportunities, I “suffer” from too many. :-).

    What to do, what to do, where do I place my energy?

    1. I’m glad you found the information helpful, Kathleen! Where you place your energy depends on your goals. Your situation is complicated by the fact that you’re writing in several genres, which means you’ll need to cultivate several audiences. Figuring out your goals will help you make important decisions, though.


  9. i almost done yur recommended points – it has succeeded in the local market but nothing yet in abroad markets – i will fix my book with amazon – there is somothing else to do – please advise – regards – antoine razzouk – author –

  10. Thanks for sending me back here, Sandra.

    One point about Facebook: using a personal profile for marketing is a TOS violation. You probably won’t have your profile taken down unless FB gets complaints. Not worth the risk to me.

    If I do anything on FB, I’d rather separate it from my personal account anyway.

    Thanks for the advice! Looks very helpful.

    1. Thanks, Bonnie. FB is definitely cracking down on people who have “Author” in their profile name.


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