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The Business of Publishing & Promoting a Book: One Author’s Experience

The book publishing world has changed a great deal in the last twenty-five years, as have

other industries. The growth in popularity of e-books (also known as digital books), the rise in

self-publishing, the increase in small and medium size publishing companies, and the

technologies that result in the quick turnaround time of a book release are main reasons for the

change.


One of the other changes that doesn’t get enough attention, in my opinion, is the author’s

responsibility to market themselves and their book. Now, even major publishers spend less time

and money on debut authors who don’t have a large following yet, while they pay more attention

to famous writers, which seems somewhat illogical. If a large publisher with a marketing

department signs a debut author, the publisher must think the book is worth publishing. Why,

then, do they not invest in better promotion of the book?


As a debut author with a small publisher, my promotional skills are in the learning curve

phase. I know more now than I did, but I still have a long way to go. Here are some of the things

I’ve learned that unpublished or newly published writers may find helpful.


Establish your writer website. Yes, it’s important even if you aren’t published. Most

publishers and agents want you to have some kind of social media presence. On your site, at the

very least, post a brief bio sketch with your photo, a works-in-progress page, with one or two

sentences that summarize each story, links to your other social media networks (Instagram,

Twitter/X, Facebook/Meta, etc.), and a blog. There are many website builders. The four I have

seen mentioned the most are Wix, Squarespace, WordPress and Weebly, but there are many

more.

Set up an account on Instagram. It’s popular and people, in general, relate to visual

content. If you feel uncomfortable posting photos of yourself, like I do, there are plenty of other

options. If you write historical content, post historical photos of people, buildings and

landscapes. Pets are popular and I’ve noticed a lot of food pictures, too. Many published authors

post book covers and reviews, of course. The choices are endless, but try to focus on you and

your journey to publication. The term “brand” should be in play on your Instagram, either in a

photo or the comment associated with it.


An author Facebook/Meta account is still a good option for both published and

unpublished writers, especially if you write for adults. I have heard this from various marketing

people because I questioned if FB had declined in popularity and usage. While it’s not used

much by the younger generation—the Gen Z crowd—it is still popular with all other ages.

According to a report from NBC, the use of FB among 13-17 year olds dropped from 71% in

2015 to 32% in 2022. Still, from a 2023 Fortune article, 2 billion people log into FB every day.

That’s enough for me to keep both my personal and author account. Besides, I don’t write for

teenagers.


Another place you might consider joining and posting is TikTok. Although it’s likely the

biggest competitor of FB, and could, possibly, be banned by the US government, TikTok has

approximately 150 million users in the US, with 1.2 billion users worldwide. These numbers

vary per source, but it’s obviously used by a large number of folks. BookTok, a sub community

of TikTok, is recommended for authors of romance and fantasy. It’s an online book readers group

or a virtual book club, as some have described it.


Although there are many other social media ways to promote, the final one I will mention

is Twitter/X. The site has many book reading groups and lots of authors, well-known and

otherwise, post on it. In 2023, there were 556 million users. Even after it became X and the

numbers dropped, millions of users may be worth your while.

Just to confuse the issue on whether to spend a good amount of time on social media, an

online entity called Authormedia featured an article entitled “Why most authors don’t need social

media in 2024”.


Here’s the link if you want to read it:


The article makes some good points, but ultimately, it’s your decision.

As for other ways to market a book, after you get published, don’t forget writer’s

conferences, author events, and library and bookstore visits. It is also wise to make a list of

different book review opportunities, and their rules, at least six months before your book

publication date. Some of the most important book review sources are Kirkus and Kirkus Indie,

Book Riot, the New York Review of Books, Amazon and Goodreads Reviewers, and Publisher’s

Weekly. There is a charge for many of these reviews.


Hope this information helps. Good luck, and keep on writing!

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