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Timing and the Marketing of Books

At the many publishing seminars I've spoken at this year, one of the most common questions I am asked is this:

    "When is the best time to begin my marketing?"

I thought you'd like to discover what we've learned about the best time to market your books, in hopes I can help you avoid one of the mistakes most independent publishers make. Below you'll find a simple Book Promotion Checklist. But first, I have a quick story that you want to hear...

Imagine a motion picture company runs ads in newspapers across the country, arranges for interviews of the movie's stars and encourages people to go see a movie ... that is NOT available in theaters or on video, and no specific plans are set for getting it there. Do you think movie patrons will go into theaters and/or video stores and request the movie?


This does NOT happen in the movie industry because it does not work. Movie producers would go broke. Movie goers would be frustrated. Is the world of publishing any different?

This scenario happens every day in the book industry. Excited-to-get-going authors and publishers launch their public relations campaigns without a solid and effective distribution system, expecting their promotion efforts to pull their books through the system.

This does NOT work.

The end result is frustration on the part of everyone concerned. The publisher makes no sales because interested readers cannot buy the book in any bookstore.

Readers are frustrated because they can't find the book that caught their interest, or so they are told by the (you guessed it) frustrated clerk at the bookstore. The media is frustrated when the publisher tries to get another story placed after the distribution has been coordinated correctly.

By then, the book is old news.

The best marketing tools, strategies, techniques and ideas will do NOTHING for you if your book is not available to your target market.

If you distribute and do not promote, you are dependent upon book readers wandering upon your book in the store and deciding to buy it.

And, much like the motion picture without a venue, if your books are promoted but not available, you are creating an awareness of something that no one can purchase.

OK. Here's the simplified sequence of events involving book store distribution and promotion:

  1. Begin marketing planning.
  2. Write the book.
  3. Design the book.
  4. Begin production.
  5. Rev Up your Online Sales Machine
  6. Develop distribution strategy.
  7. Book is printed.
  8. Send out marketing materials.
  9. Distributors present to bookstores.
  10. Bookstores order books.
  11. Media begins to schedule interviews for future dates.
  12. Book stores get books on shelves.
  14. Author is now doing interviews, reviews are in paper, etc.
  15. Books sell because they are available when readers hear about them and where they want to purchase them.

I hope this helps you as you plan your marketing campaigns. We also have a "Ready to Promote Checklist" that helps you ensure your books are written and designed to SELL. Since you're on the Publish-L, you can get a FREE copy of this checklist by emailing

I wish you all continued profits in your publishing!

Tami DePalma
MarketAbility, Inc.

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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