How to Help Promote a Book

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TLAE-stackWhen I began work on my recent book, “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO,” I thought the big challenges would be completing the manuscript and finding a publisher. It wasn’t until later that I understood how much of the responsibility for marketing a book rests with the author, even if you have a fine publisher like Career Press.

Right now things are going well for me, and I’ve learned many lessons about book promotion, often from friends who’ve stepped forward to lend a hand.

More generally, I’ve developed a vivid sense of how a little support from a lot of people can make a huge difference in the marketplace. Grassroots support is particularly important for self-published authors, who don’t have the benefit of a broad distribution network.

Once you get the hang of grassroots promotion, many techniques can be adapted to win support for a wide variety of initiatives, from local festivals to Kickstarter campaigns. In the future, I intend to be a more active supporter of my friends’ various projects. But in this article I’m going to concentrate on supporting books. So here are seven ways to help an author promote a book you love:

  1. Buy the book. This is the starting point. If you can afford it, buy two copies and give one away
  2. Tell other people. Word of mouth is a major way to build support. So let your friends know about the book. Even if it doesn’t seem like their kind of thing, ask them to mention it to others who might be interested in the topic. Spot opportunities to suggest multiple purchases, like book clubs, training sessions or classrooms. Beyond that, talk about the book in public places, carry it around, and read it at cafes and on airplanes.
  3. Ask at stores. If you don’t see your friend’s book at the local bookstore, ask the manager to order it, and let them know if the author is local. And here’s something that’s a little sneaky: if you see the book on the shelf, but it seems to be buried, try turning it so the cover faces out.
  4. Invite an author to speak. Some writers are happy to talk about their books at relatively small events, and will show up in the hope of raising awareness and selling a few copies. Other authors enjoy writing but are selective about gigs because they mostly earn their living from consulting or giving speeches. Consider whether your favorite writer would welcome a speaking invitation, and be creative in thinking about possible paid opportunities.
  5. Be savvy about social media. Sharing the news in real life is important, but you can reach so much further if you are also active on social media. For example,  on Facebook share articles about the book, “Like” and share the book page, or post a blurb about the book with a link to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. On Twitter, follow the author and regularly tweet and re-tweet about the book – it can take quite a few tweets to reach a good percentage of your followers. And 0n LinkedIn, share a link to the book with groups whose members might be interested in the topic.
  6. Go elsewhere online. If you don’t do social media, there are other ways to weigh in on the Web. Visit the author’s website or Amazon page and offer comments about his book. Search for articles about it and forward them to your friends. And if you’re a writer yourself, offer to write a guest post for an appropriate blog.
  7. Write reviews. Book reviews were once the province of a few pundits, but now we all can join in. If you buy the book online, rate and review it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The number of reviews seems to matter, so join in, even if you just write a few words. is a rich site that lets you keep track of your reading and offer ratings and recommendations along the way.

These days launching a book can seem more like a group happening than a business transaction. It can be fun to be part of it all, and gratifying to step up to support a writer whose work you admire.

Beverly Jones, an alum of Ohio University, is a former lawyer and Fortune 500 executive, is an executive and transitions coach, and a leadership consultant with a broad and varied practice. Her column appears at Clearways Consulting LLC. Republshed with permission. For archives and additional content, visit the Clearways Consulting website.