Sarah Russo on How to Promote Your Book (and Yourself)

WritersdontcryDo you have a question about your fantasy novel, short story, or spot of flash fiction that’s burning for an answer (or even just a question about writing or the column in general)? If so, please email in your questions to: me “at” susanjmorris “dot” com.


Dear Susan,

My third book, In Search of Sal, a murder mystery inspired by a true story will be published in October. What are some things I could be doing now to help promote the book? Any ideas? 



Hi Lou,

Thanks for the question! And boy, is it a doozy. I mean, as writers, we spend forever concepting and writing and getting feedback and rewriting and editing and banging our heads against the table and writing some more . . . That once we realize our books are actually going to become things? Like, things out there, in the real world? It can be a total scramble to try to figure out and put together any sort of support system that might possibly get people reading it. In short: publicity is hard.

Too hard for me! But not too hard for a good publicist (worth their weight in truffles, I swear). Enter Sarah Russo. Sarah Russo is a literary publicist, working with authors, and everything from film makers to app designers besides. She is also the U. S. Director of Publicity for And Other Stories, and cut her teeth working for the likes of Alfred A. Knopf, Doubleday, and Scribner. And fortunately for us, she was happy to answer your question. I hope you enjoy her response!


Sarah Russo on How to Promote Your Book (and Yourself)

I love this question. It tells me an author is evolving and starting to think differently about their work. First things first, if you’re publishing your third book I would stop thinking about promoting them individually and start thinking about promoting you as the creative force behind your work. And this goes for artists of any genre whether it is literature, music, film, designers, you name it—start promoting you, and then you have a solid platform from which to engage fans about each project you create. But promoting you isn’t all me, me, me! You need to offer something to people, something interesting and engaging.

This hints at the next important part of this promotion puzzle: branding. There are so many great resources out there that talk about branding, but at the end of the day it’s just about one simple thing: adding to the discussion and having something smart to contribute in your area of expertise. Now don’t walk away, I’m not telling you that you need to spend four hours a day on Facebook and Twitter to engage with the community. Nobody has time for that, and if you do you’re not writing your next book. I recommend finding the platform that works best for you, whether that is Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or a niche social community, either genre specific or subject specific. Give it 5-10 minutes of your day, twice a day, and make it work for you too. And I mean by this, if you love NPR and find it adds something to your life and engagement with the world, follow Brian Lehrer on Facebook or The Picture Show blog. If you don’t get something out of it, you won’t use it. But don’t stop there, share what you love!

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Comments (1)

Thanks for sharing these resources. Your advice regarding thinking of yourself as a brand (as opposed to your work) is giving me something new to think about.

Posted by: Kristen Pham | Monday March 18, 2013 at 12:53 PM

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