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Several authors have asked me to teach them how I promoted my book L IS FOR LION. Here’s a quick list for you!

Your book needs a party. Invite everyone you want to thank. Everyone who’s helped you along the way to this special day. Have books for sale, and have someone else handle the cash. I made paper roses out of manuscript pages. They were gorgeous, fun, keepsakes, gifts for the guests. At one point in the party everyone read some phrases out loud from their rose. It was fun to see who got what part of the book. I asked friends to help make this party happen. One friend donated the room. Another brought a case of prosecco. Another hosted a ritual, played DJ, etc… The publisher said “yes” when I asked for some money for food. I went to the best Italian deli and got broccoli-rabe, mozzarella, sopressata, olives… a feast.. I got blue glass champagne glasses for a buck a piece on-line at Dollar-Tree. Plan the party a couple of weeks after the publication date, to make sure you get the books on time, and all is set. Confer with the publisher about a safe date, so the books definitely will be in hand.

Make sure your web designer understands SEO (Search Engine Optimization. So that when someone googles your subject area, your book has a chance of popping up at or near the top of the list. When you google Bronx Italian Books, my book pops up number 1) Keep your website on-point. If you’re a renaissance woman, keep the website focused about the book, at least for the first year or so….

Make a 3 minute video trailer of you talking about your book. Post to YouTube. Eblast the link. You can do this yourself. Keep it simple, focused, fun. There’s plenty of book trailers on YouTube to watch for examples. I had a friend hold my iPhone and I sat on a mailbox and talked. I edited in iMovie. You can watch it here. Have fun doing this!


15 months out:
Schedule book readings. Give the first dates to priority spots — people will show up to support you and your book. Some venues book their schedules 12 months out, so you want to make sure you get on their calendar. Some venues offer an honorarium for authors, others don’t. The places to approach are: bookstores, college profs who can invite you for a campus talk and reading, centers that deal with your subject area, libraries, spots that are special to your book. If you want to book other cities or countries, you gotta figure it out: travel, lodging, book shipping, venues, etc… I did not have a “tour manager” – I did what I could figure out and afford. And I’m still doing it…

Talk with your publisher’s PR person and ask what exactly they’ll do, and what you need to do. Ask if they recommend you hire your own PR person, (for print, radio, social media, or all three…) Ask if they can donate books for you to mail to print reviewers and radio hosts, or if they’ll do it for you…

12 months out:
1. Make a spreadsheet of your contact list for book promo. Ask other authors to share contacts of reviewers, radio hosts, professors in your subject matter. Decide if you want to pay for a Kirkus review. It’s over $400.

2. Contact book promoters to see if you want to hire one. I raised funds on kickstarter and hired a PR person who deals with radio shows. I bought a landline phone, a headset, and they prepared a list of potential interview questions from the book and sent to their contacts in radio and web-radio. This was a lot of fun and got the word out. These curated conversations were phenomenal. Having an outside pro do this work was great since I was too close to the material in the book at the time… Now a year out, I have much more distance and can pitch better. If you want to do this guerrilla style, look at authors’ publicity pages on their websites, and see who they interviewed with… Listen to the programs. Send a press release and letter to who you like. Here’s my page: And there is lots of links to my interviews on my Wikipedia page

6 months out — Send galleys go to prime reviewers and radio hosts. (Terry Gross “Fresh Air” etc…) (Ask your publisher if they will print you some galleys for this purpose.)

1. Postcards & Business cards
A year after my book came out, I am still giving out postcards and business cards everywhere I go. When I teach I give them to all the students. When I’m in a bookstore, I leave a stack, or post two (one front – one back) to the bulletin board. Order enough, and keep the copy on it timeless. On the front, the book cover. On the back, your website, a blurb about the book, etc… A USB code if you wish to connect to your website via scan. (My fave printshop is a Mom and Pop shop in Hoboken. You can order over the phone or email… Full House Printing. 201 798-7073 /

2. Press Release
Collaborate with your publisher to write a press release. You can use your jacket copy.

3. READER ACTION CARDS Give your friends, networks and audience a list of ways to get on board. Here’s a long list. Pick your top ten and make a hand-out for audiences.
23 Ways You Can Help This Book Have its Life in the World

1. ORDER now at: (publishers website or or
2. ORDER through your local bookstore, public library, campus library.
3. VISIT (author website) read excerpts, view photos, video trailer.
4. “LIKE” on “LIKE” and “SHARE” on Facebook
5. WRITE a brief “customer review” on Also post your review to,,,, and other literary social media lists. Reviewing helps readers find the book, and boosts in search engine algorithms.
6. CLICK on, “request this book to be available in kindle, nook and e-book”
7. BUY a copy to donate to your local (list relevant social agencies… for me it was: Gilda’s Club, LGBTQ Center library, school library, domestic violence shelter, cancer center waiting room)
8. E-MAIL blast your friends about the book.
9. WRITE a note about the book on FB, LINKED-IN, GOOGLE +, Twitter, INSTAGRAM, etc.
10. LINK my website address on your FB page, website, twitter, blog…
11. BLOG about the issues raised in the book. Start a blog.
12. TALK to your local librarian and recommend the book for their “one book one city” program.
13. RECOMMEND for your Book Club, or a friend’s book club. Start a book club.
14. RECEIVE a tax donation by donating to my book tour and audiobook taping sessions. (provide 501C3 fiscal umbrella info….)
15. RECOMMEND the book to someone who can review it for a newspaper, blog, magazine.
16. TEACH the book in your class; or tell a professor in: (name relevant curriculum categories, for me: Queer Studies, Working Class Studies, Narrative Medicine, Literature, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, American History, Immigrant Studies, Italian American Studies, Memoir Studies, Health Advocacy, Medical Anthropology, Urban Studies, Performance Studies.)
17. FORWARD this email to anyone you think might be interested in the book. If you know any newspaper editors, reporters, magazine editors, radio producers, TV show hosts or producers, columnists, bloggers, send them a copy of the book, or direct them to my website.
18. ASK me to mail you a stack of full-color postcards for you to place at your local theater, bookstore, campus center, coffee shop, library.
19. INVITE me to come read in your town at your local book store, library, classroom, or a home gathering.
20. Recommend your company buy this book in bulk for company fundraiser gift-bag.
21. HELP ME SELL THE RIGHTS If you have a connection to an actor, producer, director, who might be interested in making the movie, give them the book & my contact info.
22. COME to a reading. All my events are listed at: (website) click EVENTS
23. Buy a couple of books and donate as a prize for your local public radio station for fundraising drive.


1. Make a Mailchimp or Constant Contact email blast list. Send Book Tour updates.
2. Make a FaceBook page for your book.
3. Have friends boost or trash the book on Tumblr. Whatever starts a buzzzz…

1. tablecloth to sell books on. (I made mine out of the last manuscript, filled with pen corrections.) You know, you show up for a reading, and there’s a folding table. Bring a cloth that looks good with the book.
2. Retractable Banner. This was the best thing I bought. It slings over the shoulder and pops open like 7 feet tall, easy as an umbrella. So, for conferences and book talks, I made a beautiful presentation of the book cover. Order from Full House Printing. 201 798-7073 /

Okay, that’s it for right now. I’ll do ADVANCED BOOK PROMO later…

One response »

  1. Pingback: BOOK PROMO 101 | Annie Lanzillotto Action Writing

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