Promotion opportunities – proposal series #6

If you’re an author (which you are), the promotion opportunities, or maketing plan, in your proposal will probably cause you a lot of stress. You wrote this book because you needed to write it. And now suddenly they’re asking you to produce a business plan! I know that a lot of my clients are thrown by this part. So in this installment of the book proposal series, I give you 5 tips to come up with a strong promotion opportunities section. Because, honestly, publishers and agents think this is one of the most important parts of your proposal.

Now, I know what many of you will be thinking. The reason you want to go to a publisher in the first place, rather than self-publish, is that you want their expertise in marketing your book. However, this does not mean that you yourself won’t have to do any marketing. You see, publishing costs money. So what a publisher wants to see is that when they invest in your book, they’ll get their money back and hopefully make a profit. And the best way to convince them of that is to show them that you yourself will be able to make sales happen. 

1. Look at your social media

We live in a world where social media are some of the most effective ways to communicate with a global audience. Publishers know this. When you can show that you have a large or dedicated following, they will take you more seriously. There’s two main reasons why this is true. First, it shows that people are interested in what you have to say. And if people are interested in what you say online, they’ll also be likely to be interested in your book. The second reason is that it is a platform, something you can use to tell a group of people (who are already interested) that they can now buy your book. Your social media, then, are a great resource to mention in the promotion opportunities section of your proposal. 

If you already have a respectable audience

First, tell the publisher on which platforms you’re active. Give them links to your pages and tell them how many followers you have. What’s more: if your posts get a lot of engagement (likes, shares, saves…), mention that as well and back it up with numbers. Be as precise as you possibly can be. 

If you don’t have many followers yet

Show your publisher that you take this seriously. Tell them exactly what you plan to do to grow your online presence. On which platforms will you be creating a profile? When? How are you going to be growing your profile, what will you do to make sure by the time your book is published you already have a strong and dedicated following?

Tell them how you will use these resources

So you (are planning to) have a platform on social media. People are interested in you and you have a way to communicate with them. This is a resource you can use to promote your book. But how will you do that? How often will you post? How will you get people interested? And do you plan to use ads to boost your posts? Again: be as specific as possible about how you plan to promote your book on social media. 


2. Publishers love mailing lists

Everything I’ve said about social media is also true of e-mail marketing. This is probably the most effective promotion opportunity in your arsenal. E-mails are shown to be most effective in creating engagement. If you have many e-mail addresses on your list, this shows people are interested in what you have to say. And it is a good way to directly talk to your audience about your book. If you don’t have a mailing list yet, start one RIGHT NOW. 

If you already have a strong mailinglist

Tell the publisher exactly how many addresses you currently have on your list. How have you grown your list? What website is this list connected to? And how does the topic of your book relate to the e-mails you send out? If you have any metrics that show people click on links in your e-mails, that could be really useful to put in here as well.

If you don’t have many addresses yet

Again: if you haven’t built your mailing list yet, tell the publisher exactly how you are going to go about it. How will you get people to sign up? How many people do you expect to get to sign up by what date? What will you be writing about? 

Tell them how you will use this resource

As with any part of your proposal, the more specific you can be, the better. What will you be writing about in your e-mails? How will you get mailinglist subscribers interested in buying your book? How frequently will you be sending out e-mails? Every piece of information you can give will be helpful here. p

3. Speaking engagements grow your platform

When you speak in front of a group of people, you will grow your platform. With every speech, you directly tell interested people about your work. You create buzz. They tell their friends. They start following you on social media or join your mailing list. Or, if you do really well, they might buy your book directly, just on the strength of your performance. So: think about all the places where you can do a presentation or interview in the coming year. 

Do you have a local special interest group or book club that invites guest speakers? Contact them and tell the publisher you did! Are their any conferences where you’re planning to speak? Put it in your proposal. Will you be teaching a class, join a virtual event, or do you have anything else planned where you will be talking to a group of people? Put all these promotion opportunities in your proposal. And if you have more than one thing planned: include a list of the speaking engagements you have scheduled for the next year. 

4. Borrow platforms

No matter how big your own platform is, there are always other people and organizations who can speak directly to your target audience that you don’t have direct access to. What you can do here, is to utilize other people’s platforms. When people interview you, publish your guest blog post or mention your book in their own audience communications, they share your book with their own platforms. Which means you basically “borrow” theirs to grow your own. 

Who to borrow from and how

Think about your target audience and who they get their information from. Then think about the people and organizations you’re familiar with, who speak directly to this audience. And contact them! Reach out, be proactive! Tell them about your project and ask whether they want to collaborate. You might ask your well-known friend to write a foreword for your book. Or the organization you’ve been following online whether they would put your book on their list of resources. You might write an article and sent it to your favorite blogger, to ask whether they’d be interested in publishing it. Plan to do an interview on your colleague’s podcast. Or you could ask your friends and family to share your posts with their own followers. 

What do you put in the proposal

Yes, you might have guessed it, give as much detailed information as you possibly can. What will you do, who will you contact? Which confirmations have you already had in response to your outreach? And for every single opportunity, mention the amount of people you’ll reach with this. Well, when I say “every single”, of course I don’t mean your grandmother’s 25 facebook followers. But do mention the 3000 e-mail addresses in your friend’s mailinglist on a topic that’s related to your book!

5. Don't discount traditional methods

The internet has significantly expanded the ways in which you can create buzz for your book. But that doesn’t mean that traditional techniques no longer work! So when you create your promotion opportunities section of your book proposal, don’t forget to talk about possibilities offered by the tried-and-true traditional media, readings and signings in book stores. Show the publisher you will be (or are) proactive. Give them a list of local bookstores you will contact to organize readings and book signings. Give them a list of magazines that might want to dedicate an article to your book and tell them how YOU will contact them. If you plan to hire a publicist, mention this in your proposal as well. Who are you considering, what are their qualifications? What will you want them to do and accomplish? 

Concluding thoughts on Promotion Opportunities

The marketing plan you outline in your promotion opportunies will play a huge factor in a publisher’s decision to pick up your book. If they don’t feel your book can sell, or that you can sell it, your chances of getting a good book deal will be diminished. So spend some time building your platform and a lot of time thinking about how to grow and utilize this platform. Your publisher will get your book in the stores, but only if you can show it will sell. 

If you want to learn more about the elements of a book proposal, have a look at the other posts in this series, in the blocks below. Or, if you want help with your proposal, go to my book proposal page. There, you’ll find the different book proposal services I offer, ranging from final checks to writing the proposal for you. 

Talk to you soon!


– Susanne