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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Book Promo Work is all about CREATIVE THINKING

Promoting your indie book today, be it self-published or with a small-press, is made much easier through the use of home printers, friends & family, the internet, and a lot of creative energy. We know this. Now how to put it all to effective use?

That question brings up a famous quote:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half. — John Wanamaker

This is never so true than for advertising (promotions) for art. The fact is, without a big budget, you won’t reach many of your potential readers. On the other hand, many of your potential readers don’t give a hoot for advertising. It’s their interests that you have to get at.

For low-budget promotions, I’ve utilized bookstores, libraries, and friends who are eager to help by dropping in at their local bookstore & library to distribute a small poster announcing the book’s launch, and handbills that can be easily set out on counter tops, tables, and windowshelves (along with the other promo stuff), as well as tacking these up in appropriate places.

The up side of this promo work is its low cost and “artistic feel” — a decent printer can churn out hundreds of each for little cost. If you can find a cheap pro printer that does cheap-o flyers, all the better.

But what really must be done well is the design. First off, your book cover and title must catch the attention of your potential reader. Secondly, your copy and/or blurb must be short enough to see-it-all-in-a-glance, and, gripping. I don’t know about you, but handbills for new books at bookstores and libraries are what catch my attention, often more than the spines on the shelves. Simply put, my attention is focused on that one book, whereas the dozens of spines & titles on a bookshelf that are in my field of vision often blend together. Only the most intriguing title moves me to raise a hand and pull out the book.

But a handbill — or well designed bookmark — has the chance to sell me the book with its cover art, a blurb, a review quote, and even (on the back of the handbill) a short description or even excerpt from the book.

This is guerrilla marketing, no doubt, but it is your book, and that should help you make yourself interested in doing the best job possible. This, and, the triple-digit costs of a thumbnail-size advert in BOOKFORUM, NYRB, or on


What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.


  Carl Purdon wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I ordered a couple of Polo shirts with my web address embroidered below a small logo. People actually notice and ask questions. Not throngs, but a few. Bookmarks are my next thing, though. Our local library has agreed to place them for public consumption.

  MarkBeyer wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Good thinking C.P. … When I lived in Chamonix, I used lamination decals to spell out my travel website. Got lots of comments while moving through the lift lines. Not so much while bombing the slopes, though. 😉

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