Promotion and Publicity

There are two aspects of ‘promotion’.

Publicity and advertising


The difference is that publicity is free, whilst advertising costs. However, good publicity can result in ‘free advertising’.


When promoting your book, remember that it needs to stand out from the thousands of other published books each year. Booksellers and book reviewers receive hundreds of catalogues, information sheets, and review copies of ‘bestsellers’ each month. They will need more than your guarantee to be convinced that the book has something to offer them.

Emphasise your book’s unique qualities clearly and interestingly, and provide all the necessary information about your book (remember that sometimes less is more). There are many avenues for publicising your book, and you should plan your publicity strategy before the book is printed.

Press Releases

What is a press release?

A press release is a short notice of something the media might be interested in using as a story. You can send your press release directly to the press or a newswire. Your press release should be well-written before you submit it to the media.

Our ‘Press Release Advantage Package’ can give you a boost!

If you believe your book is unique in its subject matter or takes a new approach to a subject, or if there is an exciting story behind your decision to self-publish your book, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs may wish to interview you about it. Send a press release about your book to various publications and programs, and address them to the appropriate person. Pay as much attention to writing your press release as you did to writing your book.

Remember that you need to grab the attention of the editor or producer who makes decisions. Offer them something timely, new or quirky, but make sure you approach the relevant industry contacts for the type of book you publish. Don’t approach a serious current affairs magazine or program if your book is light-hearted.

Don’t approach them if you are not confident about speaking on the radio or appearing on television. Also, don’t expect to be paid for these appearances; this is ‘free advertising’ for your book. One of the best resources for deciding where to promote your book is Margaret Gee’s Media Guide (published by Information Australia), which lists contact details for media outlets all over Australia.

What makes a good press release?

Remembering the editors who’ll be getting your release is the most important thing to remember. Hundreds of releases vie for their attention each week, so make yours relevant and accurate. Here are some tips to help improve the chance of your release being used:

Write a headline that grabs attention and summarises your main point.

The first paragraph is often the only one that’s read. Ensure it covers the who, what, when, where, why and how.
Be brief. Keep your release to one page or 400 words—the end.

Be current.

Highlight something about your product in your release relevant to current events.

Be available. Ensure you put your current contact information (email, phone number, fax…) so those interested can reach you.


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 Review copies

You must set aside several copies of your book for promotional purposes. Sending out review copies can prove an expensive exercise if you don’t achieve your goal, so before you send out finished documents, plan your strategy. You may only send written material stating that a review copy is available on request.

Be sure to establish the reviewing policy of the publication in question. There may be particular guidelines that you should follow to increase your book’s chances of being reviewed; a magazine may commission books for review rather than accept unsolicited material. (For example, D W Thorpe’s book industry journal Australian Bookseller & Publisher does not review books in every issue and reviews books two to three months before publication).

As well as general publications, target any specialist publications interested in reviewing your book. Many clubs and associations have member newsletters and are always keen to review a new product related to their interests.

You might also send a review (or ‘reading’) copy to any bookshops you think may interest your book—many bookshops like to support self-publishers, particularly local authors. If you have a good relationship with your local bookseller, talk to them about the possibility of promoting your book with them.

You may find that they will support a reading and signing session in their store if your book interests their local market. When sending review copies, include an information sheet providing details about the book’s subject, some information about the author, the price and format (hardback or paperback), the book’s ISBN and your contact details.


While you can’t control word-of-mouth publicity for your book, you can tell as many people as you can about it and be proud of your achievement. Word-of-mouth publicity can also come from booksellers recommending it to their customers or readers recommending it to others.

It’s one of the best forms of publicity you can hope to get.

‘AusBiP’/’GNAB’ Be sure to complete the forms and provide a copy of your book for listing in D W Thorpe’s Australian Books in Print and consideration for inclusion in Guide to New Australian Books (see Chapter Three – Australian Books in Print).

This is free publicity that ‘advertises’ your book to booksellers and librarians.

What’s a newswire?

A newswire is a service that sends your press release to newsrooms, websites, radio and TV stations and other media outlets worldwide. It’s your best bet for getting your press release to a large number of media outlets that, it must be said, may or may not publish it or air it.

What newswires should I use?

It’s up to you what newswire service you select. Here are some recommendations:
These are free services – and and these two are fee-based services: and

Who will receive my press release if I use a newswire?

Public Speaking & author Larry James present articles of value to Authors & Speakers: Book Signing Tips, How to Be a Great Radio Guest!, Self-Promote or Disappear! and many more.

marketing plan


If you are going to pay to advertise your book, you want to be sure that you are spending your money effectively. You can pay to promote your book to both booksellers and consumers, but you should concentrate on letting booksellers know about your book through advertising if you have limited funds.

Don’t advertise your book until you have finished copies to supply to booksellers. Customers want to buy something when they want it, and booksellers need to have your book on their shelves in anticipation of customer demand. Trade publications such as Australian Bookseller & Publisher, and the Weekly Book Newsletter are ideal places to advertise your book to booksellers. Suppose you do decide to pay to promote your book directly to customers. In that case, you should consider advertising in special-interest publications, bookshop newsletters, newspapers, and magazines, as they may be less expensive options.

You may also be able to purchase mailing lists from special-interest groups so that you can ‘direct mail’ advertising material and order forms to them.

Australian Book Review
The Bookseller (UK)
Publishers Weekly (USA)
Bowker’s Bookwire (UK)
Good Reading Magazine
Weekly Book News / Australian Bookseller and Publisher

Selling Your Book

Newswires generally reach online news sites, general search engines, syndication networks, newsrooms, freelance writers, magazines, etc. Specific media run by the different services: reaches Google News, NBCi News, AskJeeves News, Topix News, MSN News, Yahoo!, and more. gets Google News, Yahoo! Search,, Moreover, News now, and Technorati. reaches Google News, NBCi News, AskJeeves News, Topix News, MSN News, Yahoo!, and more. runs Associated Press, radio,, national or regional newspapers, national or regional TV stations, etc.

When publishing a book, consider whether you want to sell it or whether you’d instead supply it to certain people (say, your family, friends, local library, or people within your writing group). If you decide to make it available outside of this ‘circle’ – to retail outlets, for example, invest time and energy into promoting and selling your book. You may wish to pay a professional to handle the promotion or distribution, but even if you do, be aware of your options. You will want to be confident that the person you are paying is doing a good job, and you may wish to do the additional promotion yourself.

Promotional Items

Marketers have long used branded giveaways to attract potential customers. Products with a long shelf life will help keep your business at the forefront of a customer’s mind. Weeks, months, and even years after a product is purchased or a service is completed, promotional items will remind the customer of your brand.


Solicit product reviews from reputable industry sources, magazine reviewers, bloggers, or industry journalists. Product reviews lend credibility to a product or company.

Keyword Advertising

To help your website’s search engine ranking, use keyword advertising. Focused and targeted keyword advertising will drive web traffic with a genuine interest in your product or service.

Niche Directories

Use online niche directories to promote products or services. Visitors who frequent topical guides have a strong interest and are more likely to purchase.

Viral Marking

Once known as “word of mouth” marketing, viral marketing has taken on a life of its own. Encourage product buzz, as well as customers referring customers.

Opt-In Email Marketing

Email is a marketing tool to notify your existing customers about specials, new products or services, or product releases and updates. While some say email marketing is dead, others say that email marketing’s measured results tell a very different story. Opt-in, targeted email marketing works and produces results when done correctly.

Partnerships / Strategic Relationships

Large companies leverage their assets daily, and small online businesses should too! Whether it be a partner, an affiliate, or a strategic relationship, all these relationships can benefit small businesses. Companies can use strategic relationships to penetrate niche markets. Affiliates can expand their reach and tap into the customer bases of similar products. Partners can provide additional value to existing products or services. Determine what types of relationships could be beneficial to your small business.

Online Classifieds

Craigslist is likely the best-known online classified system. Classified systems increase visibility and are often missed by small businesses. Consider posting classifieds that relate to products or services and monitor the results.

Sponsorship / Contests

Contests encourage customers to have fun, generate publicity, and draw attention to your company and brand. Sponsor industry events, run games, or donate prizes to contests to increase visibility and generate goodwill.


Communication is critical to all businesses, and small businesses are no exception. Be sure to establish a communication channel with customers and potential customers. Newsletters are a viral communication channel for software developers.


RSS is growing in popularity. It is an alternative communication channel that has the benefit of reaching a larger audience through syndication. Supplement and enhance email and newsletter campaigns by providing an RSS channel for their content.

Forums / Newsgroups

Participation in newsgroups and forums will result in building credibility. Business relationships will often result from online dialogue in industry forums and newsgroups. Actively participate and always behave professionally.

Forum / Email Signatures

All forum posts and emails you send should contain a “signature” that advertises your business name, tagline, and URL.


Blogging and posting comments on blogs can increase web links and traffic. Socialisation and engaging others with well-thought-out comments can establish a business reputation and generate product interest.


YouTube is a boon to business. If you are creative, consider compiling an educational or humorous video. YouTube is a vast distribution channel and can generate a product or industry interest.

Press Releases

The avenue to inexpensive press! Write a press release to promote new products or services and reap the benefits with media attention.

Article Syndication

Writing articles can help lend credibility to your product line and improve your business reputation.

Local Newspapers

Contact local newspapers and pitch a unique story to them. Publicity is free and can generate discussions and interest. Consider exploring alternative channels for advertising and marketing. Remember that advertising need not be costly; creative marketers can often find inexpensive avenues that will result in a great return.

Identity Continuity

Create continuity between an online website, logos, letterheads, business cards, and packaging. Create an identity that will make your business stand out from the competition and leave a good initial impression on potential customers.

A professional image of your company or product will remind customers of their past brand experiences and reinforce your product line.

Trade Publications

Niche publications are journals or magazines that focus on a specific market. If your product or service is appropriate for a particular market, advertising in their trade publications will allow you to immediately drill down and target that specific audience.

Terms of Trade

‘Terms of trade’ are the terms under which you supply your book to booksellers if you complete your form for free listing your publisher details in Australian Books in Print (see Chapter Three).

You will be asked for details such as what discount you offer, whether you charge for freight, whether you have a ‘small order surcharge’, and your ‘returns’ policy. These are your ‘terms of trade’; if you choose to supply your book yourself, you need to understand these terms and think carefully about them.

Your terms of trade are critical decisions and should be based on sensible business principles.

Freight – ‘FIS’ stands for ‘Free Into Store’, which means you bear all the costs of getting copies of your book (regardless of quantity) to the bookshop. ‘FIS + service charge’ means applying a set charge for supplying any amount of your readers.

‘Freight charged’ means you charge the bookshop for sending the books to them. As a self-publisher without a large publisher’s distribution facilities, you will probably want to charge freight at cost.

Small order surcharge (SOS) – As the name suggests, this is a charge for supplying a small number of books, usually based on the number of copies ordered or the order’s net value. For example, a publisher may impose an SOS of ‘$5 on single copies’ or ‘$5 on invoices under $50 net’.

Returns – ‘All orders firm sale’ (FS) means that booksellers must pay for all copies ordered and cannot return them. ‘Sale or return’ (SOR) implies that a bookseller can return unsold copies, usually within a time frame specified by the publisher.

You might also wish to offer your books ‘on consignment’, which means the bookseller takes a certain number of copies of your book, pays you as they are sold, and can return unsold copies within a specific time frame.

If you choose to sell your books at the firm sale, booksellers will expect a higher discount for ‘taking the risk’ on your book.

Discount – You need to offer a discount to booksellers to sell your book for you. When planning to self-publish your book, you need to include this discount in your costing; if your book’s GST-inclusive retail price is $14.95, you will not receive that amount for each copy! Discounts may range from 10% to 60%, but the ‘standard’ value is 33-40%.

You may wish to offer a range of discounts based on the number of books ordered – see SOS above.

GST – You should ensure that the GST-inclusive recommended retail price is quoted on all your promotional and other materials.

Faulty copies – If your book is defective in any way – for example, misbound or damaged in transit to a bookshop – booksellers will expect to be able to return copies to you and receive either a credit or a replacement copy.

As the publisher usually bears the cost of returning faulty copies, you may wish to specify that the bookseller can ‘return title page’ rather than ‘return the whole book’.

Distribution for book self-publishers provided by Self Publisher Resources- Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Canberra, Hobart & Australia-wide!


Marketing is a three-syllable word that seems so simple yet encompasses so much. Marketing is a multi-faceted approach to promoting a product or service.

Both traditional and unconventional marketing methods have a place in the small business world. Marketing helps small businesses focus on building their brand and identity.

There are a few limitations to marketing options. The opportunities listed here are just a few that will generally result in a decent ROI (Return On Investment) for most small businesses. That said, do not be afraid to be creative — no one knows or understands a small business like its owner, so think outside the box and don’t be scared to experiment.

Create strong relationships

The founding principle behind successfully selling anything is establishing genuine and positive human connections. Taking the time to initiate and cultivate lasting relationships with bookstore owners and buyers will dramatically increase your chances of getting your book on their shelves. Even if initially, they feel your work is incorrect, by presenting yourself as a professional and credible author and self-publisher – they are significantly more likely to be open to being pitched on any subsequent projects you may develop.

Even if they say no the first time, keep the relationship open and positive. Please send a short follow-up email or letter thanking them for their time, regardless. It could pay dividends in the future.

Know what the bookstores want.

Referencing your marketing plan within the sales letter is essential. It indicates your proactive and professional business approach to selling your book. Bookstores will want to know what you are actively doing to promote your book. They do not like to sit on dead inventory. If they feel confident that any books they buy from you can be promoted and sold through marketing and promotional activity directly driven by you – they are more likely to purchase.

Getting your sales letter right is vital. Keep it at two pages maximum, and ensure it contains all the core points.

The Australian Publishing Association also has a list of bookstores and distributors in Australia that authors can contact.

Distributing Your Book
All the promotions in the world will be for nothing if you cannot follow through and provide copies of your book quickly and efficiently.
You can choose to distribute your book yourself or employ a distributor or agent to supply your book to booksellers for you. Download our Distribution List

Doing It Yourself
The most significant disadvantage of managing distribution yourself is that it takes time and is an ongoing job.
You need to be easily contactable (by phone, fax, and, increasingly, email) and provide a quick turnaround of orders.
You will also need to be vigilant in your accounting and offer standard terms of trade to booksellers.

marketing 2

Using A Distributor

The most significant advantage of using a distributor or commissioned agent to sell your book for you is that they have the expertise and resources to do the job effectively.

The biggest drawback is that you will need to supply your book to a distributor at a high discount, as they bear the costs of providing your book to bookshops (including a deal to booksellers).

Also, consider that if you are distributing your book yourself, you can focus all your resources on it, whereas a distributor or agent handles many titles simultaneously.

You need to be confident that a distributor will do justice to your book.

Be sure to ask all the questions you need to feel confident that the distributor will promote your book as effectively as possible; ask about their publicity policy, the strength of their sales representative force, what they require in terms of discount, and their accounting procedures (that is when you receive payment for sales of your book), and compare them with others.

You will also want to establish whether you can promote and sell your book yourself, as some distributors may prefer an exclusive arrangement.

Some distributors specialise in particular types of books and can market your book effectively to outlets with a specific interest in your book. The Australian Publishers AssocAPAion (APA) and the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) sell lists of Australian book distributors, which will help you establish which distributors might be interested in selling your book.

Good luck with your endeavours, and maybe sometime soon, we’ll see your name on the bestseller’s list!

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The Power Secret to Maximum Book Sales

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