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DEALING WITH A DEBUT: Best/Worst Promo Investment

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 17 November 2017 · 149 views


As a soon to be debut author there are many things running through my head. Besides the usual worries about edits, copy edits, ARCs, and first pass pages, there are concerns about cover reveals, reviews, and, of course, publicity and promotion.

Many of these items are out of my control, but the one thing I feel like I can try to corral is publicity and promotion. That may have to do with the fact that I spent ten years working in marketing, public relations, and advertising. And while I have experience, I’m also aware that the publishing world is a completely different animal than the general retail marketplace.

With that in mind, I decided to start this new blog series called, Dealing With A Debut. The plan is to share advice and tips from past debuts in hopes that future debuts can plan a clear path for the time leading up to their own release.

As I’m new to all of this, I reached out to previously published author friends who write Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade and asked if they would mind sharing their debut experiences, in particular how they approached publicity and promotion. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of help, and I must give a HUGE shout-out to all those writers who patiently read over my long questionnaire and provided more than brilliant answers!


For today’s second installment we’re going to cover promotional investment. Here is the question I posed in my questionnaire:

“In your opinion what was the single best piece of promotion you did? What would you say had the worst return on investment?”

This ended up being a very valuable question because I received an array of answers and ideas that I’d never thought of before.



1. Bookmarks – This was an overwhelming response. Many said it was a nominal investment but it tended to be the most used piece of marketing for their debut.

2. Book festivals/conferences- While this may not be an option for everyone due to cost, many authors said this was one of the best ways to spread the word about their book and meet readers, teachers, and librarians in person.

3. Book bloggers – Many authors also mentioned that working with a group of bloggers via tour or reaching out to bloggers with a high-level of followers helped to spread the word about their debut.

4. Other swag/promo items: Branded lip gloss was mentioned as a big hit. One author mentioned she had success sharing short stories on WattPad that played into her debut. Another author mentioned linking her blog to Goodreads to create higher traffic. A debut also mentioned participating in an online event like the YA Scavenger Hunt which helped create interest in her book.

5. Instagram – A few people mentioned that joining Instagram helped to boost their author profile especially when they included images of their books and included information about reviews or giveaways.

6. Postcards to libraries: This item is last on the list because I received mixed responses. Some authors mentioned that this helped promo while others said it felt like a waste of resources.



1. Book trailers: A few respondents mentioned that this was a waste of resources as it did not create a lot of buzz for their debut and can be a large financial investment.

2. Facebook Ads: One author mentioned that she saw little return on investment when trying to promote her debut on Facebook.

3. ARC tours: While fun, a few respondents mentioned that the cost of postage and lack of reciprocal reviews made this an investment they would likely not do again.


As with any unscientific survey, all of these responses are diverse and based purely on personal experience. What worked for one debut may not have worked for another. Most of the writers mentioned working with their publicist, and talking with other authors in their same genre, helped them determine the best use of their resources.


Next time in DEALING WITH A DEBUT: What makes a successful book launch?





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