Ask a Mermaid: Book Promotion Hints, Tips and Never Dos

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Dear Mermaids,

Y’all are great book promoters. Do you have any help hints on book promotion for a newbie?

Thank you,

A Tadpole

It’s true, book promotion is a necessary part of being a writer. That’s why we Waterworld Mermaids are excited to have publicity maven  Joan Schulhafer,  who owns Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting, in the lagoon today. We cornered her by the waterfall to get the goods on book promotion.

Take it away Joan!


Everyone seems to have their favorite promotion ideas, some that they’ve developed over time, but trying to plan promotion for a first, second or even third book can seem daunting, especially as nothing comes with guaranteed results.

First things first though— Set up a website. It can be very simple, but you need a destination for readers to get information on you and your books. A DIY site without fancy bells and whistles will do just fine.

Write a press release (with all pertinent publication info, such as pricing, format, ISBNs, availability) and include URLs to your site, Facebook and Twitter. Write a bio focusing on your basic background, the brief news (not a synopsis) of your book, memberships and other info relating to your writing or type of writing.

Select one or two excerpts that you have available in Word.

Have jpeg images of you (if you’re sharing and author photo) and of you book(s) cover(s) to send as needed.

Start a Twitter and Facebook account. Think about keeping the business separate from your personal accounts. You can always share a lot of the same news with family and friends, but readers don’t need to know your kids’ names and that they walk to school alone.

Feed the Twitter and Facebook accounts. Start posting at least once a day.

Research online book bloggers and book review sites to find those that would seem to be most interested in your book (and genre, if applicable). E-mail them (or use the method they lay out on their site about submitting books for review) and let them know in a couple of paragraphs what you can offer them—galleys, a finished book for review, a book for a giveaway promotion on their site. Don’t forget to say thank you in their comments section if they share news about your work. And do not react negatively to reviews/postings you don’t like—or try to explain to the reviewer/blogger why they are wrong.

How do you know what to talk about via social media? In your press release? In your bio? Look and see what some of your favorite authors, as well as new writers, have done. Make some judgments from the reader point of view about what you think is interesting, embarrassing, fabulous, whatever, and lay out your plan accordingly. 
This is a strong start, and you may have other things you can add—or can afford to add time- and money-wise—to the mix, but this will get you up and running!

Best of luck,



Thanks so much for swimming with us, Joan! In addition to her hints and tips, check out USA Today’s Happy Ever After blogs series on book promotion here, here and here.

When it comes to things not to do, there are several we mermaids would recommend you stay away from, including: spamming book bloggers and reviewers on Twitter or Facebook; talking only about your book on social media and your blog; and – the worst of them all – not doing any promotional work at all.

Good luck Tadpole!


The Waterworld Mermaids