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

About Avery Flynn

Writer. Smart Ass. Lover of Chocolate. Bringing steamy romance with a twist of mystery to the masses, one hot book at a time.

28 thoughts on “Ask a Mermaid: Book Promotion Hints, Tips and Never Dos

  1. Excellent post, Mermaids! Thanks for the tips, Joan. I haven’t done a press release yet and will be using your guidelines to create my very first one.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I’ve got all of it done except the press release, and I need to get on it. I agree with the Mermaids too. Using social media to say “Buy my book” again and again doesn’t make me want to buy your book.

    1. My favorite marketing quote (paraphrasing here) is that you can’t know how effective everything is unless you can measure it. So if you can figure out a way to track returns (be it hits on your website, Google or you buy page – along with sales) then you can see how effective certain campaigns were.

  3. Thanks for letting me visit the lagoon! Ignore the typos, not the advice! I so agree with the added tips from the Mermaids. Good luck to all! I’m happy this is helpful. Best, Joan

    1. Thank you so much for joining us Joan and pointing The Tadpole, and all the rest of us, in the right direction!

  4. thanks Joan and the Mermaids!
    Great timing for me as I plan to launch myself into the real world at the end of summer! And boy howdy, do I ever agree with you about the repetitious social media buy my book thing. It gets really old, really fast.
    On those sites, do you recommend using book covers as profile pictures? Or is a head shot neccessary?

    1. I’ve heard both on this. Personally, I have my book covers for my author fan page on Facebook and my personal head shot for the regular Facebook page and Twitter – so I guess you could say I swing both ways. 🙂

    2. I think a head shot unless you are in the witness protection program BUT go ahead and use the image of your cover around and in publication month. Nothing wrong with being proud. What do others think? Joan

  5. Thanks, Joan and Mermaids, for all the advice! I still have areas to address. I do find that I have t limit my time online, otherwise no writing gets done 😉 I”ll be working on my website and learning to make all those connections….
    Jean 🙂

  6. Terrific post, Joan and Mermaids. Thanks! It gives me confidence that I’m on the right track with what I’ve done so far. I still need to do the press release, and I’ll definitely pay more attention to what other successful authors are doing in cyberspace.

  7. Great post! There’s so much to keep track of, it’s easy ot be overwhelmed as a newer writer. How wonderful to have all of this in one post 🙂

    Do the words “press release” make anyone else giggle like a schoolgirl, or is that just me?

  8. Thank you for a timely post, Mermaids and Joan! I hadn’t thought about a press release, so like Robin I’d better get cracking… 🙂

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