View Full Version : Publicity Timeline...How Much Is Too Much Too Soon?

11-27-2006, 07:20 PM
Let's say that my novel is due to be published sometime mid-to-late 2008.
How soon is too soon to begin publicizing? I've always heard that one should wait until about 2-3 months before the book's publication date because it's not good to stir up a premature buzz; however, I've also read some articles that have contradicted this, including a well-known publicist who said, basically, "The time to get a move on is NOW."

I've already mentioned the novel in places such as Myspace and various writer forums I belong to, and hopefully by first of next year, I'll have my website up and running. I figure that's a good way to start insofar as just whetting readers' appetites. But what I'm really wondering is, for instance, when I should begin contacting my local media--newspapers, TV and radio stations, ect. Also, since the novel is set in a small town that is actually an hour north of where I live, I would also want to notify the local media there, as well. (Many of the residents I spoke with during my research are, of course, already aware of the novel, but I'm talking about a publicity campaign aimed at the general population).

I do feel that it's too soon to be creating a buzz right now. If the novel's publication is still over a year away, that would be too much too soon. People might become interested, then quickly lose interest as months go by and the product remains unavailable. Also, this is often an unpredictable business-there's always a chance the publication date could be pushed back even further. So the question is, if not now, what would be a good timeline to begin publicizing the book? Should the local media campaign be conducted according to the same timeline as the national campaign, or would it be a good idea to jumpstart the local campaign a bit ahead of the game?

Also, if the film rights for the novel are already being optioned, when is it (or is it ever) a good idea to mention this when publicizing the novel, especially at the local level? Naturally this is exciting news that could certainly drum up local interest, but as anyone who knows anything about this business is well aware, deals in Hollywood get talked about, negotiated, and ultimately dropped all the time. The last thing I'd want is to make too much a deal of a movie being made and then end up with egg on my face when people realize no such is happening. So when would be the ideal time to make mention of the fact? Only after a definite deal has been signed in blood? After production begins? When? (or is this one of those things where the author would be better off just to sit back and let word-of-mouth take its course?).

These are going to be important issues for me to deal with in the coming months and I'd really appreciate some advice before I make a bumbling mess of the whole campaign. :)

Cathy C
11-27-2006, 08:32 PM
IMO, the publicist is right. The time to begin is NOW. Two to three months out is WAY too late to effectively market a new title. Mind you, not all authors need to publicize the title, but I'm a big fan of it. So, here's the timeline I've used with good result:

1. Start to identify a short scene in the book that would make a good "excerpt" for press releases, promo documents to bookstores and the public at conferences and such. You're looking for a section about 500 words long that gives the following: a) some characterization that will get the reader interested in the people inside the book; b) elements of the genre you're being published in. For example, if it's a mystery, you could do a scene with the discovery of the body . . . for SF, a tense scene on a space ship, etc. Something that someone can read it and absolutely KNOW, "Oh! This'll be on the mystery shelves" and c) ends with a cliffhanger that makes the reader WANT to turn the page. It might take several tries before you find just the right one. Show it to friends and family to see if it "grabs" them.

2. Start to find sites/magazines who are willing to review the book. I found that introducing myself by email and providing a blurb about the book helped in getting the review sites/magazines prepared for the book's release. Yes, they'll take it whenever they get it, but with enough advance notice, you can have available review quotes for the MARKETING department at the publisher to put in their promo kits to distributors and wholesalers. With enough good "buzz" it can help increase orders from a new author. Many reviewers will accept a PDF version or 8-1/2x11 copy if that's all that's available. Obviously, you need to wait until you have the edits and copy edits complete. Things might change drastically during edits, which would confuse reviewers.

3. If your editor has any ideas about larger authors in your same genre who might be willing to give a front cover quote, now's the time to do it. This will give the author plenty of time to fit in a reading with their own writing schedule. Again, marketing would be THRILLED with a cover quote from a NYT/USA Today author that can help increase orders.

4. Once you have your cover art (probably mid-2007), you might want to start sending promo packets to bookstores. I've created half-sheet flyers or oversized postcards with the cover image and back cover blurb on one side (whether the one from the publisher, or one I've created myself) and the selected excerpt on the other side. There are chain and independent bookstore lists on a number of promotion sites like BookConnection (http://www.bookconnection.com) as well as Yahoo groups. Vista Print (http://www.vistaprint.com) does a lot of free item promotions where you can upload your own images and only pay shipping costs. These are also great for sending out to writing conferences that also have readers in attendance.

5. If, as you say, there's a local spin or even a national one, I definitely suggest a press release. But it's much better if you can do a low-key press release that is "newsy" without sounding like bragging. Take a look at the ones I've done for ours on our Media Page (http://www.ciecatrunpubs.com/media.htm) to see what I mean.

Somewhere on this thread, I posted a "Supplemental Marketing Plan" that we submitted to our publisher with other ideas. Since we write cross-genre books (paranormal romance) I tried to reach DIFFERENT readers (the horror/dark fantasy ones) that might not normally visit the romance shelves. As far as I know, it worked. :D I'll see if I can find that old thread and link it over here for you to look at.

That's all I can think of for the moment. More later as I remember things. :)

11-28-2006, 03:05 AM
Hi Blackbird,
Yep, you gotta start now. I'm a PR coach for fiction authors, and my clients and I start working on PR plans a full year before the release of their books. You need a comprehensive PR plan finished and ready to go six-eight months in advance of your release date.

The key is how you roll out your various PR tactics. For example, don't create a pre-order button on your website until Amazon can actually accept pre-orders for the book. But do find ways to start getting your name in front of all the audiences you need to reach: potential readers, other writers, "get out the book" people who can start talking you up.

As far as contacting the media is concerned, keep in mind that having a book published is not going to generate any press coverage for you. Give them a STORY worth telling about YOU, not your book.

Hope this helps!
Louise Ahern

Coming June 2007... PR Boot Camp: Intensive Training for Authors
A six-week online course for fiction authors
Email me at louise@theworkingwriter.com for more information!

11-29-2006, 09:49 PM
Thanks. And I do believe I can definitely give my local media a worthy story!

Cathy C
12-14-2006, 11:45 PM
Thanks for the reminder that I was going to find that old post about the Marketing Plan, Silverhand! :) Here's the link to the older thread. The text of the marketing plan I wrote is about half-way down the page.


12-16-2006, 10:59 AM
In terms of generating buzz and creating that ever more important mailing list, it's never too soon. An email once every 3-4 weeks is great. Also any media you can get or endorsements before hand that you can email to your editor is great because it's starts them to get even more excited and start building support in-house at your publishing house. The more support you can get in-house the better, anything you can do to separate yourself (positively) from the hundreds of other authors they'll be working with that year the better.

Dawn R
12-27-2006, 08:32 AM
Cathy - thank you so much for all that advice. With a novel due for release in September, I am extremely interested in this subject. I followed the link to the Marketing Plan you provided and have saved the information. It will be invaluable. :Hug2: