How not to promote your book

Journalist Mridu Khullar Relph’s article for The Writer Magazine offers examples of eight mistakes authors make when pitching her. How many of them have you made?

Relph interviewed me for the article (make sure you read it — I chimed in on mistakes # 3, 5, 7, and 8), but it’s clear that she had enough material from her own experiences and didn’t need help from me.

Let me just add a few other no-nos to the list so you’re even better grounded in what not to do:

  1. Don’t send a link to an article you’ve written and say “pull something from this.” You can do better than that. I know you can. Either do an interview or don’t — but don’t suggest that somebody who writes for a living should copy from an article or blog post on your website and call that a direct quote.
  2. Don’t ask if you can review the article before it runs. It ain’t gonna’ happen. The best you’ll get is a chance to see your contribution to the piece — not the whole piece — but even that isn’t likely.
  3. Don’t keep e-mailing the reporter to ask if the story has run yet. Use The Google.
  4. Respond to e-mail messages or phone calls from journalists immediately. If they don’t hear from you right away, they’ll move on to another source. Don’t miss an opportunity to get priceless book publicity because you “wanted to think about it first.” Think quickly, then write or call.

Naturally, you haven’t made any of these mistakes or those in Relph’s article. Maybe you’ve seen others make mistakes though.

What other mistakes would you add to this list?

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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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7 Responses to How not to promote your book
  1. Mridu Khullar Relph
    May 9, 2013 | 4:16 am

    Thanks for the shout out, Sandra. These four additional tips are great. I especially like the point about asking to see the piece in advance. Unless it’s a really technical piece, it’s not going to happen.

    To be fair though, I have been on the other side of that equation and been repeatedly misquoted, so I understand where that sentiment comes from. I, too, have to remember to breathe and let it go.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      May 9, 2013 | 3:38 pm

      That has happened to me on the last 2 interviews I’ve done, Mridu, but I still don’t expect the reporter to run anything by me unless the topic is complicated or confusing, etc. Sometimes I’ll say, “I realize that’s confusing, so if you want to run my part of it by me before you submit it to make sure everything’s accurate, that’s OK.”

      All that aside…thanks so much for including me in such an excellent article! You’re doing all authors a big favor by providing this advice. I really enjoyed your perspective and anecdotes — it’s all very helpful.


  2. Caroline Oceana Ryan
    May 9, 2013 | 3:25 pm

    Sandra, I’m finding your tips and guidelines on book promotion to be incredibly helpful — thanks for this helpful article, among others!

    Have a great day,

    • Sandra Beckwith
      May 9, 2013 | 3:38 pm

      You’ve made my day, Caroline! Thanks so much for taking the time so pause and comment! : )


  3. P.J Roscoe
    May 15, 2013 | 10:13 am

    I’m enjoying reading about other authors and what they do and don’t do. For me, I just hope that one day someone does contact me for an interview!!
    I have guest blogged on Laurence O Bryan’s site –
    and even after winning an award for best e-book in the Paris book festival I am still waiting for people to find me – so hearing how you all get noticed is very helpful – thank you
    P.J Roscoe

    • Sandra Beckwith
      May 15, 2013 | 1:19 pm

      PJ, the best way to secure an interview is to initiate it. Awards are wonderful and validating — it’s great to say you’ve written an award-winning book — but just the act of winning the award isn’t enough to sell books, unfortunately. You aren’t going to be “found” — you’ll need to go out there and bring people to you. Good luck!


  4. P.J Roscoe
    May 17, 2013 | 9:14 am

    Thank you Sandy – I know that I’ll never be ‘found’, that’s just wishful/romantic thinking – in the real world of billions I am merely a speck of sand in a huge sea. I am still learning computer stuff and the website is so overwhelming I sometimes don’t know where to start – but your point about initiating is good advice – and I’m starting. Thank you – its lovely to know there are kind people out there who take the time to help. x

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