This post is part of a series, which serves to provide hands-on information and resources for authors and editors.
Publishing a scholarly book is a mammoth task. Needless to say that after months, or even years of painstaking writing, rewriting, editing, and proofreading, you do not want it to go unnoticed. Most likely, you want other experts in the field to read, review and cite your work, to create a visible impact on your research field, and to improve your reputation.
So, how do you – and your book – get there? Of course, a professional publisher will support you in the marketing process, but there are several things that you have in your very own hands to make your book stand out and reach the right audience. We recommend that you use that power, and we’ll tell you just how!
Ramp up Your Online Presence
Spread the word among your peers on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but remember that these are social media and not advertising platforms. So, make people engage with you and your book.
Ask your followers for their opinions on your work, initiate and contribute to scholarly debates, share information about upcoming events around your book, and, if you are comfortable with it, behind-the-scenes stories (e.g. by showing off your writing desk, your lab, or your first physical copy of the book.) Generally, if you include an interesting image, chances are good that more people will pay attention to the post. Also, when tweeting, especially at conferences, use appropriate hashtags, but don’t overuse them. Tag your publisher, maybe they will re-post.
Additionally, consider creating an online author profile, so that (potential) readers get to know you a little better and keep up-to-date with your latest publications. If your book is available on Amazon, you should make use of “Author Central”. It’s a free service that allows you to manage your publications, and present your biography, as well as related images, videos, and events on a dedicated author page.
Best practice example: Twitter Thread
After a slight delay, my first book will out in a week from now, on June 21 🥳 As a teaser, a small thread on what I mean with “colonial impotence” ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/l7XNQMWfCX
— Benoît Henriet (@HenrietBenoit) June 14, 2021
Talk About Your Book
Hopefully, you do not get (too) anxious to speak in front of an audience because Q&A sessions and book presentations are other interesting opportunities to engage with potential readers. They often take place at conferences, book fairs, or, of course, in the virtual space. Online events have gained massive popularity since the onset of the pandemic and this trend will probably continue.
Find out whether your publisher works with this kind of format, and offer your services! If you want to pull an event together by yourself, there are several platforms you can use like YouTube live, Instagram live, Zoom, or Facebook Live. Some of these services (can) require viewers to RSVP, which usually means they will get a reminder on the day of the event.
Make sure to promote the event ahead of time. Be prepared to answer questions and react to comments that arrive via the chat. Get support, e.g. with managing questions, if you need it. Decide whether you want to record the session and make the video available later.
Best practice example: Online Event
Enter the Blogosphere
If you want to reach people in and beyond your research field, blogging can be a great way to translate your published work into a more “digestible” format. Maybe you have your own blog, maybe your publisher does, or you are invited to write a guest post somewhere else (be proactive and send a pitch!) – in any case, make sure that you know your audience!
If you are writing for a lay audience, do not overwhelm the reader with academic jargon. Use easy language. Tell an interesting, engaging, or surprising story, while letting your personality and opinions shine through. If you want to demonstrate your work’s relevance for society, you could tie it to a current news story, debate, or event of public interest.
Generally, you should not advertise your book too blatantly. Give your readers a first taste of your work and make them want to know more.
Best practice example: Blog post
“There’s no Longer a Word for Tea” by linguist David Gil.
Book reviews are an important medium for scholars to get to know about new publications and for authors to get more visibility. A well-written review, done by a renowned expert in the field, can make all the difference. They should be able to extract the key arguments of your work and evaluate its quality and significance for the academic community in a brief and accessible way.
So, ask your peers whether they would be willing to do just that – preferably in a relevant journal but also on selling platforms. Go to conferences and take a few copies with you, e-mail people (maybe you already have a distribution list), start a call for action on your Social Media accounts or on your website, if you have one. Be proactive, but do not spam people.
You can sign up to Google Alerts to monitor any online references to you and your book. When a review about your book has been published (and if it’s good), share it on your Social Media accounts and among your contacts.
Best practice example: Call for Reviews
— D. Clint Burnett (@DClintBurnett1) April 2, 2021
Make Your Institution Have Your Back
Recommend your title to your university or institutional library. Some of them will have a recommendation form on their website, in other cases you might be required to simply write an e-mail. Make sure to include a valid explanation, like “I will refer my students to this resource”. If applicable, put the book in the recommended reading list for your students.
You can also try reaching out to your institution’s communications department and see if they would be interested in writing or posting about your book. You might have a good chance if your research is potentially interesting for a broad audience.
Do not underestimate the role that authors play in the promotion of their own books. Publishers will make every effort to support you with marketing material, catalogues and book displays at conferences, but ultimately it is you who is closest to the community that your book is targeting.
Your peers will trust you more than any advertisement. So, use your network, translate your research into other formats, and trust the quality of your work.
Now, good luck in getting the word out!
[Title Image by Jaredd Craig via Unsplash]