Marketing Monday: Publicity Prep 101

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PublicityPrep101-2Here’s a little secret about book publicity: it’s madness.

Until you actually experience a campaign, it’s just an abstract idea. Sure, you know you’ll be doing some stuff on the web, and posting some things on Facebook,  and doing some web interviews. Until you get into the middle of it, though, it’s all an abstract concept.

I wish I had’ve understood how busy I would be around the launch of my debut novel! I’m fortunate to be working with a fantastic publicist– Jeane Wynn of Wynn-Wynn Media. But the thing about good publicists is that they bring you opportunities. All the time. And in the middle of all of it, there are still the normal writing goals, deadlines, and life.

So, for those of you who are coming up on your first book launch, here’s my list of “advance prep” tasks. Some of these I did prepare ahead of time. On others, I’m still scrambling to catch up.


You’ve probably already written a bio for the back of your book, but each outlet has different requirements. To be safe, prepare three or four different versions of your biography ahead of time. I use a 50-word, 100-word, and 200-word version, all of which can be tweaked for lengths in between.

Professional Photos

You know that you need headshots, but did you know that it’s helpful to have several? I have two formal poses that I use for different needs (one for guest blogs and one for more permanent applications like Goodreads, Amazon, and my website). But I have also gotten requests for more casual poses, or multiple photos for a post. Fortunately, my shoot yielded a lot of usable photos that I can use when a blogger or reviewer wants something a little different than my standard headshot. Alternatively, you can have some good candids selected ahead of time for the “behind the scenes” sort of posts.

Also, it’s a good idea to prepare two resolutions (or have your photographer do so). You’ll need one high resolution for print (300 dpi) and a lower resolution for web (72 or 96 dpi). Most of the time, unless high-resolution is specified, the low resolution photo will be the one used for web publicity.

Online Press Kit

This is something that I put together on my website ahead of time for bloggers and reviewers who want to add something besides a book blurb to their site, but don’t request an interview in advance. Anyone can use these resources, I just ask for a notice of where and when it will appear. My press kit includes:

  • A number of different photos at 96dpi
  • My three different bios (with word count listed)
  • Information about my newest release, including short blurbs, back cover copy, and excerpts from the book
  • Cover image for the newest release and buying links
  • Q&A section, which bloggers can use to create their own “interview”

Book Blurbs

Besides your back cover copy, it’s also a good idea to have a couple of blurbs about your book worked up. In addition to my 150-word blurb, I also have a short, two sentence sales handle. This is the one I use for mentions in “new release” announcements where space is at a premium and back cover copy simply won’t fit.

It’s also a good idea to have a couple informal blurbs about your book worked up for interview questions. This would be the “what the story is about” sort of explanation—how you would explain the plot to a close friend. It should hit all the character highlights while avoiding spoilers and have a less formal feel than your back cover copy.

Guest Blog Posts

I’ve written more guest blog posts than anything so far. Sites always need content, and it’s a great way to show your personality, talk about topics relevant to your book, and get some name recognition. I’ve been given some great last minute opportunities on sites with heavy traffic, but last minute comes with a catch: deadlines are usually measured in hours or days instead of weeks.

Take a bit of stress out of the process by working up some guest blog posts ahead of time. The average length seems to be between 500-800 words, and I’ve been surprised by how much freedom in topics I’ve had. Most of the time, the guidelines are “write something about writing” or “tie in a topic to your book.”

Some ideas for blog posts that can be written ahead of time.

For an audience of writers

  • How you got your agent
  • How you got your publisher
  • Things that surprised you about the publishing process
  • Research methods
  • What you’ve learned on your publishing journey
  • “What I wish I had’ve known” topics (like this blog post)

For an audience of readers

  • Insight into what it’s like to be a writer: your life and routine
  • Interesting facts you learned while researching
  • Your inspiration for the characters or setting
  • Character interviews (complete with photos of your casting choices)
  • Character summaries (again, have photos ready)

Your Own Blog

If you’re already blogging, some days you may face the choice between writing a guest blog for a big site or publishing on your normal blog schedule. In these situations, my own blog normally gets sacrificed. I wish I would have written several posts in advance and had them ready to go for those times when I just couldn’t get the next day’s blog finished in time.

Also considering setting up guest bloggers in advance for the time around your release date. It takes some of the pressure off you, brings additional traffic to your site, and gives you the opportunity to add a new perspective to your blog, which readers enjoy. You can build their post topics around your current schedule (if you have certain topics on certain days, like I do) or you can take a period of time where you ask guest bloggers to discuss a topic that relates specifically to the book being released.

Final Thoughts

Even considering the workload, book publicity is lots of fun! When you’re passionate about your story, your setting, and your research, the chance to connect with readers is a joy. Spend some time assembling the essentials and you’ll be that much more prepared to represent yourself and your book with enthusiasm to the marketplace.

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  1. Heather Day Gilbert says:

    Excellent post and one I know I’ll return to if one of my books ever get picked up!

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