Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – October 2016

by | Oct 19, 2016

October already? How the heck did THAT happen? Another month of great marketing and sales successes to be had. Let’s get started with this month’s three tidbits of book promotion experience:

What I Did: I Started Presenting My Book to Stores for the Holiday Season in October

Before I knew better, I thought October was the PERFECT month to start presenting my book to bookstores. Halloween was coming up and soon, they would be taking down the orange and black crepe and setting up Christmas displays!

What I Should Have Done Instead

I should have presented my book for the holidays in July. See, a LOT of bookstores buy 6 months out. Decisions, budgets, and dollars allocated for holiday books quite often are ALL GONE by October. To get in a holiday display or into a holiday catalog, books should be sent and proposed WAY before October. Some stores may wait until October, but most buyers have already spent their money and made their decisions long before then.

What I Then Did

But I quickly shook off my dismay and realized that if I was late for the winter holidays, I was in PERFECT time for Valentine’s Day and the SPRING holidays! If you have missed the winter holiday display or catalog season, don’t fret. Just turn your attention to the spring promotional opportunities.

What I Did: I Planned to Pitch My Early 2017 Book to Bookstores and Retailers in Late 2016

Years ago, I naively picked up the phone on November 30th and dialed a New Jersey Bookstore to tell them about a book that was going to launch on January 13th. Now, I was apparently bothering her during the BUSIEST MONTH OF THE YEAR. I may have misunderstood, but I am pretty sure what the book buyer suggested on the phone before she hung up was not physically possible.

What I Should Have Done Instead

I should have pitched my January book in September and October OR I should have waited until mid-January to contact the stores. Retailers are desperately trying to keep up with their customer’s needs during the time between Thanksgiving and early January. (It does not all end at Christmas/Chanukah folks…. Returns and gift cards keep stores busy deep into January.) When launching a book in the early part of the year, pay attention to what the stores are going through and adjust your need for their time, their attention and their money to a better time when they HAVE SOME.

What I Then Did

I went back and suggested a January 25th pub date and started prepping the media and online ads for that date instead. On January 10th, I started contacting stores about the urgent and quick upcoming release of a book that would QUICKLY fill their coffers with a LOT of sales by the end of the month and suggested that if they bought 12 copies in January, I could easily hold off billing them for 90 days so that they could get their holiday bills paid and still have this very important book on their shelves.

What I Did: I Sent My Book to a Store or Reviewer Before Getting Their Agreement

There are tons of experts out there with a lot of great experience with reviews and book sales. My experience and opinon is just that… mine. So I was doubtful when I read advice and saw programs suggesting that it is a good idea to mail out copies of your book to the reviewers and retailers in large groups. So I experimented. Instead of crafting a unique outreach email and connecting with the reviewer or buyer ahead of time, I simply mailed 45 copies of my book out with a form letter and a request for review.

What I Should Have Done Instead

I should have invested that money (books and postage and time) on lottery tickets instead. It was a total failure. I received ONE review for all those books and postage.

What I Then Did

I went back to my tried and true habits of:

  1. Connect
  2. Ask
  3. Send
  1. First, I connect with the person I am hoping to get a review or a purchase from. They are human beings and appreciate getting a personal, non-mass-emailed contact from me.
  2. Then, I follow up with something helpful or personal and ask them if I can send them a copy of my book and ask them to consider it for review or purchase.
  3. Finally, WHEN THEY SAY YES, I send them my book.

If I send out 45 books THIS way, I will end up with a LOT more than 45 reviews and sales. It has been my experience that the extra time and steps make ALL the difference.

More to Come, and What About You?

Next month, I will have more screw ups and mistakes to share with you. I hope you find my DO THIS INSTEAD OF THAT features helpful! Feel free to leave a comment below or ask a question… I LOVE giving my opinion!

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Kathy Steinemann

    I detest everything to do with marketing. C’mon, Amy, invent a robot that knows all this stuff. No, wait. Stephen Hawking says artificial intelligence could be the downfall of the human race. sigh Well, at least this information will make the process easier.


  2. Jennifer Jensen

    Good tips, and I LOVE the “Do this, not that” approach. Thanks!

  3. Amy Collins

    Thank you for the kind words. Next post will be next month, if I can help before then, just connect with me on line and let’s see if we cannot remove that “cloud”.

  4. Alice

    Thanks so much for this info. Will be very helpful to me as I anticipate my new book to be published in a month. It shows me that “timing is everything “. Thanks, Alice

    • Amy Collins

      AND that it is NEVER too late!

  5. Wanda Luthman

    Thank you for this informative article. I’m always baffled on when to start and where to start. I sit around and twiddle my thumbs…a lot!

    • Amy Collins

      Me too! But doing just TWO things a day (no matter how small) will allow us to achieve SO much!

  6. Christine Keleny

    Thanks Amy, will definitely share this. Also – now is the time to contact libraries for their 2017 plans as well!

  7. Frances Caballo

    I appreciate your honesty in this post and your lessons learned. What I also like is your voice as a blogger. It’s distinctive and engaging and drives me to keep reading.

  8. Amy Collins


    I was so happy to read that you were looking forward to my next post but SAD to read that marketing and sales “hangs” over you.

    My next DO THIS NOT THAT will be focused directly on overcoming sales and marketing reluctance.

    I’m a New Englander, raised to never “push” or promote any item or agenda. If I can learn to be comfortable with sales, ANYONE can!

    I’m going to get started writing now!

  9. Cat Michaels

    Amy, on top of the timing and tenacity you demobstrate, I appreciate your sharing the ups and downs of Indie marketing. With so many options and a limited budget, it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed. Thanks for your ideas and a road map I can adapt.

    • Amy Collins

      What a lovely thing to read this morning! Let me know if I can help as you keep plugging away at this!

  10. Colin Dunbar

    Hi Amy

    Thanks for this post. This is something that hangs over my head like a dark cloud. Looking forward to your next post.




  1. Writing Links…10/24/16 – Where Genres Collide - […] Book stores should be contacted six months in advance. […]

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