Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Promotion: The Foundation

by Karen Cioffi

Every author has thought it, said it, and heard it: promotion is the roll-up-your-sleeves, and dig-in part of writing. It’s the much more difficult and time consuming aspect of writing that every author needs to become involved with . . . if he wants to sell his books.

To actually sell a book, you need to have a quality product. This is the bare-bottom, first rung of book promotion . . . the foundation.

The Foundation: Create a Quality Product

The very first step in book promotion is to create a quality product. Hopefully, you noticed I said create a quality product, not just a good story. What this means is that all aspects of your book need to be top notch.

A. The Story

To start at the very beginning, the first factor to be dealt with is to be sure your story has all the essential elements. According to Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, there are five major elements of a story: characters, setting, plot, point of view, and theme.

All the elements of a story should complement each other, should move each other forward, draw the reader in, and end with a satisfying conclusion. They should work together to create a story that will be remembered.

Suppose your story is action packed and plot driven, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, it will fall short. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement. Again, it will be lacking. As with all things in life balance is necessary, the same holds true when writing a story.

B. Join a Critique Group

Yes, this is part of creating a quality story. Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides. They will help find: grammatical errors, holes in your story, unclear sentences and paragraphs, overuse of particular words, and weak verbs, among other elements.

They will also provide guidance and suggestions.

Check out this article for more information about joining a critique group:
Critiques are Essential

C. Editing

Yes, again, this is a necessary step to take to ensure your manuscript is in the best shape possible before it becomes a book. Look for an experienced and qualified editor to help tweak your manuscript. But, before you send it off to be edited, self-edit it first. There are a number of articles out there in cyberspace on self-editing. Take the time and read a few, then go over your manuscript.

D. Cover and Design

This step is more relevant to those who decide to self-publish, or use a Print-on-Demand (POD). The cover is the first impression a reader will usually have of your book, next is the interior design. These aspects are just as important as the story itself. I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression that you only get one shot at making a good first impression. Well, you can relate that to your book cover.

Don’t skimp on time, effort, or money when coming up with your book’s cover and design.

Tip: If you are writing a children’s book, do not do your own illustrations unless you’re a professional illustrator.

Karen Cioffi is an author and ghostwriter. For writing and marketing information visit and sign up for her free newsletter, A Writer’s World. You’ll get 2 free e-books on writing and marketing in the process, and two more free e-books just for stopping by.
Author of Walking Through Walls


  1. Just stopping by to say "Hi." Next month, May 2nd, I'll post Book Promotion: Creating an Informational Funnel. Now to remember!

  2. Helpful article, Karen. Thank you for giving us notice of what's coming next month, too.


  3. Ah, yes. The editing. The editing. Sigh.

    Just kidding. Great advice. Thanks.

  4. Karen, this was so helpful. Thanks for the insight and information. As a picture book author/illustrator I found great tips and words to the wise in your article.

  5. Karen, I agree - the foundation is a very important part. You've got to have a product that is a quality from head to toe.

  6. JENNIFER, Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad you found the tips useful.

    BEVERLY, LOL. I know what you mean!Thanks for stopping by!

    Ginger, It's always wonderful when a writer's posts/articles are helpful to other writers. Thanks for stopping by.

    STEPH, It really is the foundation of any product. As an author, we should want to offer the best possible book. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Karen, I am glad you brought up the importance of the cover art. People tend to miss the fact that 70% of all book sales are due to the right cover.

    As a matter of fact, the cover, no matter whether you self publish, or deal with any type of printer, whether they use print on demand technology (which is not self publishing, btw), or use offset printing, the cover always is a major consideration. Whether the author has input or not.

    Even if the author isn't the one calling the shots, you can bet that publisher is considering the importance of the cover.

    That is why 4RV is not only selective about their artists as much as they are there authors, but also do their best to promote the artists as much as they do the authors.

    And since the artists earn royalties at 4RV, their name can create sales just as much as the author's name can.

    Great article. I think I will be using some of it in one of my future posts.

  8. Amen to all suggestions! Good tips, Karen. Thanks.

  9. Aidana, I'm glad you added some on the topic!

    Heidi and James, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found the information helpful.