What to Do the Year Before Your Book is Published

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What should you do in the year before publication day to sell your book?

A lot, as it turns out.

Pre-publication PR is crucial for the success of a book, according to Jared Kuritz, managing partner of Strategies Public Relations. Kuritz gave his checklist for the 12 months before publication at Publishing University. The annual event, put on by the Independent Book Publishers Association, was held in April in Austin, Texas.

Nine months before publication: Do you need money? Now’s the time to crowdfund, or find investors or sponsors to finance your book.

Seven months before publication: Establish your distribution model. Are you going to sell books the old fashioned way, in retail stores? Do you plan to sell e-books and audio books? Will you try to avoid the risk of printing a large number of books in advance by printing on demand?

Six months before publication: Get your website in shape. It should have plenty of dynamic content, such as blogs. It should have a way to provide free excerpts, in return for an email address. Its mission should be clear: You have five seconds to make your case. It should have the search engine optimization tools so you’re visible on the web. People should be able to pre-order your book; a link to amazon might be enough. Each page should have a call to action.

Six months before publication: Start blogging. Look for online publications that market to your readers. Be sure to include at the bottom a line or two saying that you are the author of a new book and where readers should go for more information. Ramp up your social media presence. Spend 15 minutes a day on it. Here’s a great social media tip from Kuritz: Send five simple and easy-to-answer questions to a prominent person in your field. When they answer, write a blog and tweet it. Be sure to tell your followers you scored an interview with Mr. Prominent. Then send a link to the blog to your prominent contact and ask him to share with followers. When your book comes out, let your new prominent acquaintance know. Maybe he’ll mention it to his followers.

Six months before publication: Start reaching out to non-retail buyers, like companies and associations, to sell your book.

Four months before publication: Seek reviews from publications. The top ones, like the New York Times, require Advance Review Copies (ARCs). They get flooded with books; it’s like the lottery. For everyone else, send a note asking the editor if he or she will review your book. If the editor says yes, send an ARC. Don’t forget about blog reviewers and Goodreads. You can save money, by the way, if you print extra copies for reviewers instead of printing ARCs, which can be expensive.

Three months before publication: Book events where you can speak and sell books.