Trade journals: The book publicist’s secret weapon

I’m going to let you in on one of the best kept secrets in book marketing: trade journals.

Successful authors and their publicists go after trade journal publicity because it sells books and generates paying speaking opportunities.

Savvy nonfiction authors and novelists alike add this tool to their book marketing tool kits because they know that any trade journal publicity helps sell books.

What are trade journals?

Also known as trade magazines, trade journals are publications that serve a particular industry or profession (“trade”). Examples include Beverage Dynamics for the distilled spirits industry, Vows: The Bridal & Wedding Business Journal for bridal salon owners, and HVACR Business for people in the heating/cooling/air conditioning business.

There’s a trade journal for just about every niche business or profession you can think of.

If you write nonfiction, the connection between your book and trade journals might be obvious.

If you’re a novelist, it’s harder to see any possibilities. But for many of you, they’re there, especially when you think about the industries or professions in your book. Here are a few examples that might get you thinking:

  • A primary character is an interior designer: Contract magazine, “the leading publication for commercial interior design and architecture, connecting professionals and covering projects, products, and practice issues that set the standards in the industry.”
  • The story setting is an independent public relations agency: PR Week, “the essential title for PR professionals in the US.”
  • The protagonist is a jewelry maker: MJSA Custom Jeweler, which “focuses on how to meet consumers’ desire for personalized jewelry that reflects their unique tastes and beliefs.”

These authors got trade journal publicity

Libby Fischer Hellman, the author of more than a dozen mysteries, credits an interview with publishing trade magazine Publishers Weekly with contributing to the success of Nobody’s Child.

“It went on to do very well and received lots of award nominations,” she says.

After Jen Miller’s memoir Running: A Love Story was reviewed by a trade journal for librarians, Booklist, “An awful lot of people have been posting that they picked up my book at their local library,” she says. “I know the power of trade publications, and the power of librarians, so I was thrilled that they reviewed it.”

What can you realistically expect from trade journals?

The primary publicity opportunities with trade journals focus on:

  • Short news items
  • Book reviews
  • By-lined articles that you write about your book’s topic and that mention your book title in an author’s credit box at the end of the article
  • Articles that include interviews with you as an expert resource; your book title is the credential you will offer
  • Excerpts

Short news items typically announce that the book is available and run in the news briefs section with a short description. The information often comes from the book’s announcement press release.

Book reviews are particularly influential when your book’s audience is precisely the people reading the magazine. In addition, you can pull out positive, pithy excerpts for your Amazon sales page, website, bookmarks, and other marketing materials.

By-lined articles allow you to further position yourself as a subject matter expert by writing in-depth about one narrow topic from your book. When my book Publicity for Nonprofits was published 10 years ago, I wrote several trade journal articles on topics ranging from how to position a nonprofit’s leader as an expert to how to publicize fundraising events and write op-eds.

Articles that include interviews with you focus on a specific topic in the same way that bylined articles do, but somebody else writes them. When you’re interviewed for an article, you will be one of many sources.

Excerpts might be long or short, like this one from 10 years ago that is still available online (!). Reprinting long excerpts requires getting permission from the author or publisher.

Getting this kind of free and valuable exposure isn’t as hard as you might think. I’ll share information about how to do it in an upcoming post.

Update September 7, 2016: Read the “how” in “How to get trade journal book publicity.”

Have you gotten trade journal publicity for your book? Please tell us about it in a comment. You might inspire another author to take action. 

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  1. Sandy – thanks so much for this reminder to reach out to trade journals. By-lined articles and excerpts might work well with the series of books I do. Maybe even a regular column – wow – that would be cool.

  2. Sandy:

    Good reminder article for those of us who self-publish and thus will have to self-promote.


    1. I’m glad it was helpful, Ronald.

      Even authors with traditional publishers have to promote their own books, so this tactic will help some of them, too.


  3. My heart goes out to authors who still think “everyone” is their target audience. Using trade journals is an excellent way to go in tight on a market and sell more books. A great reminder for all of us. THANKS!

  4. Many thanks Sandra I took notes and am guilty of the ‘love’ and I do appreciate your advice about ‘suggesting they might like my book!!Very helpful, I am trying so hard to start making money, I can promote my book at talks and the Jewewelex Show in South Africa, but I am 82 already and have to get it selling, I must do Bloging, I am alone in it. What does it entail, becoming an Affiliate?
    I am also working on Linkedin all Gemologists and Jewelers, very busy Endorsing them. Love, Marge

    1. Hi Marge…the trade journals for jewelry stores might be interested in your book. Good luck with it. I know you’re always working hard to promote your book.


    1. Irene, I don’t know enough about your book to answer that question. In general, though, your question might be what trade journals are read by people who work for politicians, or what trade journals are relevant to professions or topics covered in your book. Google should be able to help you find answers.


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