How To Promote Your Book – Politely

How to promote your book politely


Being flooded with ‘Please read my book’ and ‘check out my new book now’ requests on various forums, I thought it may be time to scribble a few hints for new self-published authors. I am so tempted to title this list of hints ‘Don’t piss people off before they’ve discovered your book’, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll settle for this.

Ten Helpful Hints For Promoting Your Book

1. DO NOT direct message people on any forum asking them to read your new brilliant masterpiece. Guaranteed method for really pissing people off, and poof! There goes a bundle of potential readers/buyers in an instant (message).

2. DO engage with people on social media. The rule of social networking is to make friends, make fans, make buyers. Don’t ever think there’s a short-cut.

3. DO have a blog and a website. These are the suitable places to have ‘Buy My Book’ links. But make sure you have some decent content showing off your writing skills there. Yes, your writing skills need to be on show. Do you think readers are stupid? They won’t just click and buy your book without a good reason.

4. DO NOT pretend. Be yourself no matter what. You’ll only succeed if people are genuinely interested in you.

5. DO be careful with responding to book reviews. You may want to thank a book blogger for reviewing your book, but don’t do this in a blog comment. Thank them by direct message or email. You can click ‘Was this helpful’ on an Amazon review, which will add a little weight to the review, but don’t comment. Most importantly, never, ever respond to negative reviews. This will only inflame, and make you look silly. Always ignore bad reviews!

6. DO NOT try to flood the Internet with your book. It’s flooded already, so who will notice you? Be targeted and know your potential market. (I know mine, but that’s my secret!)

7. DO use bookmarking sites to promote your blog. A well written and topical blog post can potentially go viral. This is the way to get some attention, but be careful. Don’t over do it. I post every day, and perhaps once a month a post really goes mad. Be patient and write well.

8. DO learn how to format anchor text in your links. Nothing looks more amateur than a web address link like this.
It should look like this:  Get HAL Here.

9. DO NOT write short crappy bios on social media sites and blogs. You’re supposed to be a writer. If you can’t write a decent bio about yourself, give up writing and take up pottery.

10. DO be patient. Most overnight successes take about 30 years on average, so don’t rush it. Learn to walk before you run.

Now if you’re still reading, there are of course many more do’s and don’t’s but this will get you started. Use your head and think before you jump. My golden rule is how I would react if I came across myself and my book marketing. Too simple huh?


47 thoughts on “How To Promote Your Book – Politely”

  1. Sound advice, Derek. If it take 30 years to become an overnight success, I should crack it in about 4 years time… just as I’m drawing my pension.

  2. “DO be patient. Most overnight successes take about 30 years on average, so don’t rush it. Learn to walk before you run.”

    LOL – in that case mate I should make it when I turn ninety-three. :D

  3. Thank you for the excellent and amusing advice. I’ll need to start promoting myself in September, so this was very timely for me.

    I’m an admitted failure at #9. I’ve had to write bios about myself in most of the careers that I’ve had, and I usually end up with a short crappy ones. I’m no good at pottery though, so I’ll have to keep writing.

    LOL on #10 – Depending on when you start counting, I’m either running way over the average or won’t live to see my success.

    1. Number 9 is easy Carel. Short, concise and accurate works best. Perhaps, ‘I’m a writer and I like marmalade on my toast. I also have 6 dogs and and a tortoise.’ See, too easy :)

  4. I enjoy my crappy bio. :)
    I do agree with most of the advice. My biggest annoyance when it comes to friending and twitter is when the person has nothing listed under their name i.e author, book lover, psycho killer. I will never ‘friend’ a person that just has an addy name with no description. Also, the ‘mug shot’ profile pic is a turn off — If you look like you just got arrested or are ready to deploy a car bomb, I’m declining and not buying the book.

    1. Totally agree Charlie. I never follow ‘Eggs’ either. Someone who has made the small effort to add a half reasonable avatar and their ‘International Terrorist’ bio is much more likely to get my follow ‘click’.

  5. Hi Derek!
    I have no book to promote, and do not aspire to be a writer. So my crappy Twitter bio suits me. :)

    I do enjoy reading your blog. And the comments are usually quite lively and interesting. You give sound advice, which even non-writers like me can recognize and appreciate.

    So just saying, thanks.
    Twitter me @jonesbabie

  6. Good advice, Derek. Thanks for sharing. Glad to find out I’m already following the rules. I’m no where near 30 years, but hey, We’ll see what happens.

  7. Dan Cavallari

    Alright, you win. After months of just reading, now I am officially subscribing to your blog. Well played, sir!

    1. Sure Hope. @hopeclark You can subscribe by email by clicking the mail+ icon at the top left of the Vandal homepage. Thanks for participating on the blog.

  8. I have a lot of work to do! I am trying to increase readers to my blog, which is the premise for my book.

    Thanks for the advice Derek! :)

  9. I have a lot of work to do! I am trying to increase readers on my blog, which is the premise to my book.

    Thanks for the advice Derek.

  10. I totally agree, but I didn’t realize #8 was a big deal. (I thought my long URLs made me look like I’m too smart to be mucking around with shortening devices.)

    Also, I’m wondering, is it annoying of me to mention a typo? “It should loo like this: Get HAL Here.” Yes, I thinks to meself, it is annoying.

    1. Thanks for your comment Mary. One of the great things about electronic publishing is that typos can magically disappear. lol Thank you for spotting it though :)

  11. Hi Derek, I loved this post. Concise and to the point as always, and full of useful information. I’m just about to release my first full-length novel (a thriller) and really needed the advice.

    No. 7 is the one that threw me. I looked up Bookmarking and read a couple of articles, but I’m still none the wiser.

    Could you do another blog about that?


    1. Hi JJ. I have a post coming up next week about using bookmarking sites. But in the meantime just to give you a head start, they are sites such as Stumbleupon, Digg and Delicious. People ‘bookmark’ their favourite sites and they are then shared with other users. Hope that helps :)

  12. So that’s what those buttons are! I was looking at loading a new template but balked at all the cute little buttons. It looked like the twitter and rss buttons went rabbit and had a whole litter…

    I think I may add something to my bio about how I’m trying to find a marketable combination of gum and nuts.

    Looking forward to next week’s post on bookmarking.

  13. So many great points–very well said!!

    I think number 2 is my favorite–tis what it’s all about.

    Thanks for a great post :)


  14. Hi Derek,

    Thanks for this, really helpful – I just wondered about bookmarking sites – ‘DO use bookmarking sites to promote your blog’ – as I don’t know anything about them. How do you mean? Am I missing a trick here?


    1. Hi Kate! Bookmarking sites such as Stumleupon are not easy to figure out at first but the basic idea is that you share a link and then other people can see what you have shared. The hope is that they then share it with others. Just make sure you don’t share your posts all the time. Share links that interest you and pop one of yours in say every 20th share. Hope that helps.

      1. thank you so much for this. i will look into it!

        another thing i remember you mentioning is that you always reply to comments even if they’re negative. i’m being attacked on one of the telegraph forums by a couple of people and finding it really hurtful. how would you suggest it’s best for me to respond? things like ‘learn to write’ etc. fairly puerile stuff….

        best wishes,

        1. Hi Kate,

          The only advice I can offer is to always stay polite and positive and rise above negative criticism. In ‘net speak’ it is never ‘flare’. By thanking critics for taking the time to post, you send the ball back on their court and readers see your integrity. It’s the only advice I can give really, other than ignore them. But I prefer to take a more positive approach.

          Hope it helps :)

    1. Well Sherri, getting something to ‘go viral’ is always pot luck I’m afraid. There are a lot of articles available about it, but no one seems to have a magic formula. But using Stumbleupon and Digg can give you a chance. Occasionally I’ve had blog posts that have gone crazy on Stubleupon, but have no idea why. I’ve tried writing follow up posts on the same topic and nothing happens. So, it’s a lottery.

  15. I agree with this- while I am not trying to promote a book right now, I think this advice applies for anyone trying to promote anything and get themselves out there. I have just started book reviewing and this is helpful information to apply to my case as well.

    It is important to follow the “do not pretend” advice as well- people need to know you- the real you and then they will like you or not- but that is not your issue and you don’t need to apologize or try to get everyone to like you.

    It is also important to thank people- for following you, commenting, messaging, whatever- it’s the small things that go a long way.

  16. Good advice, Derek. I disagree with #5, though, because it seems stalkerish and intrusive to me, and may inhibit people from reviewing you in the future. I rarely even read reviews because I think the reviewer deserves the integrity and respect to not be monitored by the author. However, if someone tells me they reviewed my book, or if it’s on a blog, I do stop by and say “Thank you for taking the time” without commenting on the content of the review itself.


    1. Thanks for your comment Scott.

      I agree with you about commenting on the content of reviews. However, the reason I made the point in #5 was from a couple of experiences I had with book reviewers. Not all let you know they’ve reviewed your book, which is fine, but I got a couple of ‘clanging’ reviews and it turned out it was because of the ebook’s formatting.

      Once I contacted them, I discovered it was an issue with one book in one particular file format on Smashwords, which they both had purchased. I supplied them with correctly formatted copies and they were both very generous in posting updates to their reviews.

      Even if you don’t wish to thank each and every reviewer, I think it is prudent to know what is being said about your books. If I hadn’t done that Google search I would probably still have a corrupted ebook for sale.

  17. >>Most overnight successes take about 30 years on average<< Best line on the subject. I need to use that more often to explain to people my "Zen-like" patience.

  18. Recently wrote a post about the same topic – I look at it from a “benefits” marketing perspective. Every time you put yourself out there, you need to be delivering some benefit to your potential readers. That way your information is a gift rather than an irritation.

  19. Hi Derek,

    Thanks for your article. I’m off to take you up on thanking everyone who has reviewed my book. That is a great thought.


  20. Your post confirmed that I have the correct approach to marketing, it also taught me a few things. Excellent perspective I could not agree with youj more.

  21. Great article. I definitely agree with acknowledging all reviews politely, good or bad. How do you thank reviews from amazon, etc? By posting in the thread yourself? Or is there a way to contact directly?

    1. Hi Pooks. Normally you can track down an Amazon reviewer from their profile and respond from there. Just clicking their name on the review normally does the trick!

  22. Hi Derek,
    I like your advice but am troubled by your suggestion it’s going to take thirty years to be an overnight success. I am too old to wait that long and I have a short attention span; twenty-plus years is my longest career.

  23. Well Nancy, I look at it this way. Dead authors sell far more books than us living scribblers. So just look at as a career move. The pity of course is that we won’t be around to gloat over our well earned success. Our grandkids might be happy to get a few bucks out of the deal though :)

  24. Valerie Andrews

    My least favorite promotional tactic is the all-caps screaming Twitter posts that include lots of emojis and little content. These posts are visually obnoxious and seem to be repeated ad nauseum. My advice? Get social media/advertising assistance from someone who does this professionally.

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