Columns > Published on January 10th, 2018

5 Tips on When and Where to Promote Your Book

There is an entire cottage industry built around helping writers sell their work. ‘Your book is your hook.' ‘Marketing is everything.’ ‘You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so get people to buy your book.'

Facebook and Twitter offer opportunities for writers to reach thousands of people for ten dollars a day. There are other ways to get your work out there, too. The options are almost overwhelming and, if you’re not careful, can become all-consuming. It can also become very expensive because much of it costs money most writers, including me, don’t have to spend. So what can a writer do? Here are some steps that have worked in my experience.

1. Write the best book you can

It sounds elemental because it is. Publishing is a business and that book you’ve toiled on in solitude is a product. Find beta readers who know your genre and will give you honest, useful feedback. A good editor helps, too. Even if you’re with a big publishing house, the cleaner your manuscript is when it comes through the door, the better.

If you know you’ve written the best book you can and surround yourself with the right people or devise the best’ll have done everything you can to set yourself up for success.

2. Consider hiring a publicist

Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it if you can at all swing it. You need someone who can help you push your book to the right blogs and the right reviewers. They can also help guide you as to what, if any, ads you should or should not purchase on social media. It’s also helpful if someone other than you is talking about your book to people in the industry.

3. Don’t be a pain in the ass

That’s a tough one, I know. We all want to tell as many people as possible about our book in the hope they will read it. The law of averages, right? The more who know, the more who’ll buy. Wrong. People get worn out with self-promoting Tweets and posts, especially if they only hear from you when you’ve got a new book out. Relationships sell more copies of books than marketing. If people have a sense of who you are, they’ll be more inclined to try your work.

4. Be flexible

You need to be willing to go outside your comfort zone to get your book noticed. As a natural introvert, this is especially hard for me. But just writing a book isn’t enough anymore. Be willing to do guest blog posts, even if you don’t have a new book coming out. Do podcasts and interviews if the opportunities present themselves even if that makes you uncomfortable. It’s all part of people getting to know you. You obviously have a story to tell. You wrote a book, didn’t you? People like to hear about it. The process may feel boring to those of us who have done it, but readers find it fascinating.

5. Know when to say when

Set limits for yourself at the outset. Decide the amount of time and money you’re willing to spend on getting your work out there. Find out what your publisher can and cannot do and fill in the rest. But when you’ve reached that preconceived limit, consider cutting back or stopping. After all, you’re a writer, not a marketer. Don’t be afraid to get back to work.

The business of selling a book may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. But if you know you’ve written the best book you can and surround yourself with the right people or devise the best strategy within your limits, you’ll have done everything you can to set yourself up for success. That success isn’t guaranteed, but what is?

About the author

Terrence McCauley is the award-winning author of two previous James Hicks thrillers: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL and A MURDER OF CROWS, as well as the historical crime thrillers PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN (all available from Polis Books). He is also the author of the World War I novella THE DEVIL DOGS OF BELLEAU WOOD, the proceeds of which go directly to benefit the Semper Fi Fund. His story "El Cambalache" was nominated for the Thriller Award by International Thriller Writers.

Terrence has had short stories featured in Thuglit, Spintetingler Magazine, Shotgun Honey, Big Pulp and other publications. He is a member of the New York City chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and the International Crime Writers Association.

A proud native of The Bronx, NY, he is currently writing his next work of fiction. Please visit his website at or follow him at @terrencepmccauley.

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