What Is The Best Time To Start Promoting Your Book?

Man observes snow
photo courtesy of Kevin L. Donihe

I recently posted about GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST selling quite a few copies since its debut (500+, as of this writing, which is not too shabby for a newbie micro-press and a debut novel), and I have had more than one person ask me for “tips or tricks or secrets” that I might be able to share, so… here I am, sharing.

I’ll just copy & paste my most recent response to this inquiry:

It’s a ton of upfront prep before release.
I had AT THE END OF THE DAY come out in December, last year, and shortly after that, NOBODY GETS HURT. Neither book has even come close to GRIND, but for good reason.
I very specifically began talking, actively, about GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram a year and five months prior to its release. Started slow, at first. But by the month and change leading up to release, I went from posting once a week (at the least, sometimes more) to posting every single day.
The second step I took was hustling it to reviewers and bloggers. Not a lot, mind you, but folks who are vocal in the horror community. I started doing that as soon as I had a working draft, which was back in May/June, five months prior to release.
Promo for any release should start no less than 6-9 months in advance. I was well ahead of that for GRIND. AT the END OF THE DAY has done okay, but that’s more or less by stroke of luck and word of mouth. NOBODY GETS HURT died immediately upon release. In both cases, the book was dumped on the market too soon, so any prep and promo was impossible. C’est la vie.
Prep and promo. Get that ball rolling early.
On the flipside, think of this… I started the GRIND “campaign” an entire year and change in advance of release and it’s only, to date, sold just north of 500 copies. YIKES. The hope, of course, is that the next release doubles those numbers. I stress “hope” because readers are fickle beasts.

If I had to add anything, it’d be that I tried to do a combination of things, online and in person, though I only took part in one in-person event. But you can be sure I talked about GRIND to anyone who’d listen! I like to think it made a difference. Mostly, though, I did a whole bunch of social media posts across multiple platforms, multiple times a week, and almost every single day. Content creation is key to posts. Couple that with the countless emails sent off to bloggers and reviewers. If that feels like a lot, or like a job, well, that is because it is a job. I worked my butt off for GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST. However, it was my first novel, and the work was totally worth it, in my opinion.

Now, this advice didn’t come to me out of thin air, mind you. I’d read about the subject via Jane Friedman’s website (I’ve linked to her homepage. Please, go explore). I would advise anyone looking for “tips or tricks or secrets” to do likewise.

Read about the business.

Learn about the business.

Especially if you are an indie! ESPECIALLY if you self-pub! Though, honestly, even if you’re thinking of courting BIG 5 publishing companies. No one will work harder for your book than you. That’s just the truth of it.

In closing, the best time to start promoting is absolutely as soon as possible. Go to social media and talk about your work, if you are comfortable doing so. Maybe you want to wait until the manuscript is completed, which is fine and understandable, but don’t rush to publish simply because you’ve typed “the end” and closed the file. Get that hustle going. Query reviewers and readers. Build your own word-of-mouth. Even if you have something of an audience, consider building a sizable window of time into your release schedule for promotion leading up to street date. You will only be doing you and your work a favor.

At Rooster Republic, we started a word-of-mouth campaign for the upcoming anthology NOT ALL MONSTERS (Oct. 2020) in the latter-half of 2018. We’ve peppered updates regarding the title throughout 2019. In January of 2020, the hustle will kick into high gear, as we plan on submitting the title to a number of review venues. We plan on making the book practically inescapable to members of the horror community. I’ve learned a lot as a writer and as an owner of a micro-press, and I cobble these lessons together and apply them to each successive release.

It is only appropriate, then, to announce a title and synopsis for my next novel:

THE BODY IS A MACHINE THAT MAKES GHOSTS

“To reclaim its title as ‘America’s Most Haunted,’ the city of Alton hires a ghostmaker, Ridley Gastham, but no one’s prepared for the true cost of The Adorcist.”

I’ve been working on the book in a minor capacity since finishing GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST, but the heavy lifting will begin after the New Year. I imagine the manuscript will take me at least a year, or more, to finish. Until then, expect to hear me talk about it.

A lot.

TTFN

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