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Promoting your work: PR and press tips for writers

Promoting your book (and yourself) is an essential skill for writers, so we've put together some handy advice to get you started.

Promoting your book (and yourself) is an essential skill for writers; the more people who hear about your writing, the better. You might have the support of a professional publicist, or be responsible for promoting your book on your own. Either way, preparation is key to ensure you spend your time wisely and get the best results possible.

Spread the word

There are some tried and tested methods for spreading the word within the book community.

Be prepared

It's important to think about what you want to achieve and how you want to be seen by potential audiences. This isn't about lying or pretending to be somebody you're not. But it does mean thinking carefully about what makes you and your book unique, appealing and interesting. You might want to bear in mind:

Your goal: Are you trying to get your name known? Sell a particular book? Promote your back catalogue? Be realistic about how much time you have and what you can do with it - it's better to plan room for growth than to overstretch yourself and have to drop a plan halfway through.

Your brand: How do you want to be seen? Are you an authority on your subject? You need to think about your audience too, and what they're most likely to want to hear from you.

Your boundaries: Think carefully about where you want to draw the lines in your personal life. Journalists and bloggers may ask questions you are uncomfortable with, and it's good to know what you're willing and unwilling to share about your private life ahead of time.

Your key message: Whether you want someone to buy a book, sign up to your website or book you for events, it's important to pick one clear message and focus on that. You can always adapt or change it later if needed.

Find an angle

If you have a book coming out with a publisher, you may be in the happy position of coordinating your PR efforts with their own. The size and style of the publishing house will have an effect on the amount of support they're able to give. Even with professional help, it's incredibly useful to think about how you might present your book (and yourself) to media outlets in a way that will attract attention. After all, nobody knows more about you than you do!

Be sure to keep in touch with your publisher even when their support has quietened down (which it will do after the initial buzz of a book launch). Most publishers don’t have the time or budget to put lots of promotional resources behind a writer, especially if that author has yet to prove themselves in terms of sales. Publisher cutbacks and a competitive marketplace means that you will be expected to be hands-on in promoting your book.

Writing a press release

A press release is a simple, professional way of sharing your news with relevant publications and platforms. Whether you are holding an event, writing about your publishing deal or announcing something exciting, a press release is the best way to do it. Here are a few handy tips for crafting newsworthy press releases:

Pitching your ideas

Pitching an interview or contributed article idea directly to publications is a good way to secure solid coverage. If you're working with a publisher, it's a good idea to discuss their expectations around pitching ahead of time so you both know exactly what's happening and when.