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Publicize Your Novel

Publicize Your Novel
by Fern Reiss, CEO,

“It’s so much harder to publicize a novel,” is the lament of many authors.  Harder maybe, but not impossible.  Try these methods of novel publicity:

Put nonfiction hooks in your novel.  The reason most authors find nonfiction easier to publicize than fiction is that nonfiction, almost by definition, contains ‘hooks’ around which you can leverage publicity: How-to books on golfing, for example, can lend themselves to doing talk radio shows where you share your golfing techniques; nonfiction guides to golden retrievers can become print articles on caring for your golden retriever.  But novels can enjoy the same sorts of hooks if you consciously insert them.  So think carefully about your passions—hobbies, pastimes, collections, pets—and then integrate your favorites into your novel.  If you’re an avid golfer, make one of your characters an avid golfer.  If you love your golden retriever, put one in your novel.  That way, you can get the same broadcast and print coverage for your novel that you would for a nonfiction book with that hook.

Market to your hooks. Once you’ve got a few good nonfiction hooks in your novel, plan your marketing efforts around them.  If your character is an avid golfer, you can sell your novel at golf conventions and golf shows and golf pro shops and golf courses.  If your novel focuses around golden retrievers, you can find and market to the (vast) dog-loving audience.  Golfers like to read books about golfers, and dog-lovers like to read books about dogs, so be sure you’re working your hooks and going after your natural audience.

Include reality in your novel.   The more real items you can include in your novel, the more you broaden your marketing options.  So include real locations, real corporations, real associations. (Of course, be sure you use these real venues and groups just as colorful background detail; don’t say anything libelous and don’t violate trademarks, obviously.) Once your book includes real locations and groups, you can try to sell your books in those locations, make quantity sales to those corporations and associations.  (And if anyone can figure out a subtle way for me to include Canyon Ranch or Bermuda in my next book, please let me know.)

Figure out a reading alternative.  Sadly, not that many people attend book readings unless the author is already famous.  So what can you do if you’re a good, but not-yet-famous novelist?  Design an alternative to the traditional reading.  Again, follow your niche: If your book features a knitter, design a knitting event; if your book showcases a chef, put together a cooking demonstration.  Your target audience will be interested in a nonfiction presentation or event just as much (or maybe more) than a reading—and you’ll likely sell more books as a result.

Try some novel ideas.  Finally, capitalize on all the clever creative tricks you can maneuver only as the writer of a novel.  For example, invite visitors to your website to compete for the rights to have a cameo role in your next novel—a sure-fire way to increase your ability to harvest readers’ email addresses. Or print up t-shirts with cartoons or caricature based on your novel.  (One writer I consulted with ended up creating a whole set of body tattoos based on her novel.) Or walk around a busy resort town dressed as a character from your novel, handing out promotional postcards.  Think out of that proverbial box—and work some novel ideas that nonfiction writers really can’t touch.

By following these suggestions, you’ll be able to simply and effectively publicize your novel.  Please let me know how it goes!


Fern Reiss is CEO of ( and ( and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books.  She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers ( providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at  Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at

Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss


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