Writing And Publishing: Promoting Your Novel

Posted at 10:00am on 7th October 2009

If you are serious about writing and publishing your book, then sooner or later you’re going to have to think about promoting it. I’m not talking here about manuscript submission guidelines, how to write a publishing proposal for your book. Nor am I referring to writing a synopsis for a novel in order to submit it to publishing houses. I’m thinking more of what you can offer a publisher in terms of helping with sales of your book.


Publishing a novel is an expensive business. In my experience, at some point a publisher who may be interested in publishing your book, is going to ask what you’re prepared to put in to the venture. Why not pre-empt the question by giving them the answer up-front, wherever possible, when you write your proposal?

It’s a sort of trade-off. You’re saying to the publisher: Look, I appreciate that it’s going to cost you to publish my novel when neither you, nor Joe Public knows anything about me. I realise you’re taking a gamble. You don’t know for certain that my book will sell, so you have no guarantee that you’ll recoup the money it costs you to print. And I understand that it will cost you still more to advertise my book. So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll help in every way I can.

Fair enough? Well, yes! But what, actually, can you offer to a publisher?


Endorsements: Have you had any endorsements of your book? For instance, I have a letter from the Co-ordinator of the Bereaved Parents' Network Co-ordinators of Care For The Family, a charitable organisation, in which they tell me that they will be adding my book, A Painful Post Mortem, to their library. This catalogue is a resource they have at all the events they run for bereaved parents; the books are not on loan but for sale.

The letter came too late to put any part of it on the back cover of my book but the promotion they are giving is invaluable. And it gives me the opportunity, legitimately if cheekily, to let you know, too!

Try to think of organisations who might welcome the chance to support your book – especially if you offer them a cut in sales. Perhaps your story centres on a medical condition and the relevant charity might be willing to endorse it? Alternatively, a novel in which the protagonist is a golfer might go down well at your local golf-club. Or perhaps you’ve set your tale in a place of historic interest which is a tourist attraction. If that is the case, they may be delighted to sell your book in their shop. Post Offices and local convenience stores are also usually delighted to entice customers in with a poster declaring that signed copies of a novel by Local Author are available inside.

Network: Think of all the groups of people with whom you, and other family members and friends are involved. Colleagues; clubs; charities; associations etc. My job for the past twelve years has brought me into contact with the publishing world; singer-song writers; the licensing organisation which enables churches and schools to use hymns and songs without infringing copyright; and many others. In addition, I’m a member of several associations for authors and speakers.

All these people – plus their contacts, and their contacts’ contacts – are your network: the people to whom you hope to sell your book. Make sure the publisher to whom you are submitting your material knows how broad your network might be.

Internet: If you don’t already own one, set up a website to promote your book. Your publisher will want to know that you are doing everything you can by whatever means to bring it to the attention of potential buyers and readers. Blogging (keeping a journal, or writing articles) showcases your creative writing like nothing else and an URL on the back cover of your book will be a certain plus. If you want to know more how to sell books, see my articles on Online Marketing or How To Blog To Sell.

Speaking: If creative writing is your thing then it’s more than likely that you’re an introvert and have a fear of speaking in public. But you may be surprised at yourself! Find out your strengths by taking a personality test, and then apply those findings to yourself in terms of Public Speaking as a means to Enlarge My Vision.

For instance, most introverts - like myself - cringe at the thought of having to address a group of people in an impromptu fashion. I can no more stand up and comment at a public meeting than I could stand on my head. But with the sort of planning which my series on Public Speaking offers, and the confidence that you gain in knowing that an audience has chosen to hear you speak and will not interrupt you, it is an altogether different experience!

The thing is to start small. Offer to give a ten minute talk at the gardening club on how to grow fuschias, for instance. Or ask your local Mother's Union if they'd like you to speak to them about how you started your writing career. Once you're up and running, there's nothing quite as likely to sell your book as you, yourself, when you're on a podium!


The thing is that although the passion you bring to your art should be centred on the creative writing you produce, there is little point in writing unless your material is going to be read. The sort of blatant self-promotion I’ve suggested above may seem very narcissistic and you may feel somewhat uncomfortable with it; but you really do need to think in terms of writing and publishing going hand in hand.

Don’t expect a potential publisher to do the necessary advertising and promotional work necessary in publishing a novel. You need to do all you can yourself. And you’ll find publishers will love you for your understanding of the industry.

Your Comments:

21st October 2009
at 5:30pm

Very useful information. I'm currently self publishing my
second novel. I will apply your suggestions to my plan to market my

Thank you!

Mel Menzies
22nd October 2009
at 6:21pm

Glad to have been of help, Savannah. I wish you well with your
self-published novel and hope the marketing suggestions prove
helpful in making sales.

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