What I Wish I’d Known about Publishing a Book

Image from Flickr by Stacey Green

Image from Flickr by Stacey Green

Today marks the one-year anniversary of The Fourth Wall’s release, and boy have I learned a lot about marketing in that year. While I still feel incredibly lucky to have had a book published, I know I’ve made mistakes trying to get that book into readers’ hands. Here are some things, if given the chance, that I’d do different:

I’d focus my early efforts on getting book reviews. By early April I had an ISBN, a Goodreads page, a cover, a title, and a release date, which is all I needed to send requests to book reviewers. But I didn’t know that—I thought I needed the ARCs (advance review copies) on hand before even asking for reviews. So I waited until I had them, which was mid-May, less than a month before my publication date, and I quickly learned that wasn’t enough time for the many reviewers who only review books before they are published.

I’d make a much bigger push for preorders. I’m terribly insecure about Facebook posts blasting news about my book, so I basically gave myself an allowance of one post per news item. For example, when I received my bookmarks, I posted one picture. When I received my actual books, I posted one picture. Determined not to aggravate my friends or set myself up for ridicule, I stuck with this rule even when The Fourth Wall went on sale for preorders. And one post was not enough.

I’d hire a publicist. Seriously. Even to just help me put together a media kit and make that initial push for interviews and speaking engagements, until I’d built my confidence. I spent countless hours wringing my hands over how to put together a press kit and how and where to send it out and did it ever happen? No. I felt paralyzed by all of the choices and overwhelmed by all I didn’t know, and I’m convinced that a publicist would have been worth hiring to guide me through that.

While there’s a lot I could have done better, here are the things I did right:

The book launch party. Of course, I can’t take all the credit for this—most of it goes to Changing Hands Bookstore and the many friends and family who made the launch party a success. Bookstore events can go either way; it’s difficult to predict whether fifty people will show up, or only five (kind of like your kid’s birthday party). I told myself that if it was only five, I’d make the best of it, but the turnout was great and it was truly a magical evening.

The blog tour. Yes, they’re worth it. I think a third of my reviews are direct results of the blog tour, and The Fourth Wall got a lot of exposure with those fourteen blog posts. Also, writing posts on lucid dreaming and answering dozens of interview questions about themes, characters, and inspirations renewed my excitement for the book itself—not the publishing of it or the marketing behind it, but the ideas and dreams that inspired me to write it in the first place.

I always said yes. Although I couldn’t quite find the courage to seek out speaking opportunities, I never turned down any offer that came my way. When Phoenix New Times asked for an in-person interview, I said yes. When my son’s teacher asked me to come and speak to a class of second graders about being an author, I said yes. And when the activities director at the skilled nursing facility where I work asked me to come speak to the residents about The Fourth Wall, I said yes.

That event/signing took place yesterday by the way, and the host, Gayle, was so gracious and asked such wonderfully unique questions that I didn’t even get a chance to feel nervous. Plus, she served cake.

If you’re an author, is there anything you wish you had done differently in terms of marketing?







  1. I’m still so in awe of you for having the courage and stamina to do what you’ve already done. It’s very impressive. Love you.

  2. Liz Keen says:

    Great article. I feel like I sort of went through this with Scott, and we are still trying to evaluate what he should have or shouldn’t have done better. It’s definitely a learning curve.

    • Hi Liz,

      It sure is a learning experience! But hopefully there is a next time for us. 🙂 There has to be for Scott, because I can’t wait to read another one of his books.