Why do you need to start your book promotion so far in advance? Well, suppose your book has just been published, and shows up either online or in a brick-and-mortar store? What would motivate a customer, one who either scrolls through a site or browses titles on the shelves of a local independent, to pull your book down and take a closer look at it?
Let’s take bookstores. Books at physical bookstores are displayed either with the spine facing out or the cover facing out. Many times the store will face-out only the books they know customers will especially be looking for (or those books for which shelf space has been paid by the publisher). Unless the customer is attracted by the color of a book spine or by its outrageous or catchy title, chances are the customer will skip your book, or will take a look at it only if he or she has heard about your book or about you the author.
Actually, it’s even more difficult than having people simply hear about your book. To be familiar with the title of your book and your name as its author, the customer needs to have heard your book mentioned at least three times every five days during the weeks leading up to that visit to the physical bookstore (online, the customer generally already knows what he or she is looking for). We’ve mentioned frequency before â€“ this is, unfortunately, the way the human mind works. People need to be reminded often in order to remember something that isn’t necessarily going to affect their immediate well-being.
So if you haven’t worked on promoting your book long before that customer walks into the store, it could be weeks or even months before the customer returns to a bookstore (and although it’s more likely that a customer will visit an online bookseller more frequently than a physical one, again, browsing is different for books online than it is in a store â€“ there’s more purpose to it online). It could be, if you haven’t promoted your book sufficiently, that a bookstore might have pulled it from the shelf and sent it back to the publisher because no one has bought it.
So â€“ that’s why you need to start your promotion well before your book hits stores.
In our next post, we’ll look at sending the book out before it’s published, in the form of galleys.
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