You might assume that when you are publishing your academic book, it is the publisher’s responsibility to market and publicize it. You might also assume that publicizing your academic book only happens after your book is published. But this is a very limited view of how academic books are publicized. In reality, intentionally generating interest for your academic book (pre-publicizing it) should start at least one year before you submit the final manuscript.. Follow the steps below to set your academic book up for success.
Publicizing it to Other Scholars
Let’s face it. Especially if you need your book to count toward tenure and promotion, you are writing for other scholars (and not the “general public” or “advanced undergraduate students”). So, you should spend most of your time publicizing your academic book to its target audience: scholars in your field.
How to Generate Interest for your Academic Book 1-3 Years Before it is Published
The activities in this section seem like routine parts of academic careers. We would publish and present regardless of whether we were preparing a book. But when you are preparing a book, these activities take on additional significance: they also serve to generate early interest for your book. So, approaching them intentionally can
- Determine which scholarly discipline your book best fits in. You can use my guide to seeing your book through publishers’ eyes for help. You will use this knowledge to identify journals your core readership reads. Later, you will also use it to identify important conferences where you can share portions of your work and develop connections with other scholars.
- Publish 1-2 articles based on book chapters in journals your book’s target audience regularly reads. (You do not need to mention the book in these articles.) You will, in turn, mention these articles when you write your book proposal. Publishing articles in top journals establishes your credibility and helps to generate interest for the book.
- Present portions of your research at conferences in the fields in which your book contributes. Try to target a good mix of large, national or international conferences and medium-sized themed conferences. The former are better for helping many people discover your research. Later, when they see reviews or announcements, they are more likely to take note. The latter are better for developing stronger relationships with individual scholars in your fields.
Setting Yourself up for Publicizing your Academic Book: What to Do after Submitting your Final Manuscript but Before Copyediting
At this point, the book manuscript is out of your hands. So, you can spend this time doing other pre-publicity tasks. Doing so will make publicizing more manageable amidst the final copyediting and indexing flurry.
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- Reassess whether the scholarly discipline you identified for your book still fits the final product. If so, make a list of the top journals in your book’s fields. Later, you will give this list to your press so that they can submit copies of your book for review.
- Research which New Books Network podcast would be most appropriate for your book. Email the host to confirm that your book fits his/her channel. If so, add his/her name and address to the list of review copy destinations you made in step 1.
- Make a list of book prizes for which your book is eligible. Note the deadlines, number of copies, and submission procedures for each. Put deadlines on your calendar and draft cover letters as appropriate.
- At conferences, be sure your bio contains your book’s title and press name.
- Contact your university’s “public relations” or press office to learn about how their press release process works. Draft press releases, as necessary.
- See if your department will announce the book’s publication on its website or in a newsletter. Draft materials, as necessary.
- If you want undergraduate or graduate instructors to make your book required reading, consider developing materials that will allow undergraduate or graduate instructors to use the book more easily.
- Optional: Set up a book website. I highly recommend this if you are analyzing objects that you would like your readers to be able to consult alongside your book. You can also use it to distribute any materials you developed for the book to be used in classes. If you want to set up a website, I recommend the webhost ReclaimHosting, which is designed specifically for academics. (If you use my special code–EMDASH10–you will save 10%!).
How to Publicize Your Academic Book Just Before it is Published
After you sign off on the final proofs, you have another period of waiting before the book appears. Use this time wisely to:
- Complete your press’s author and book publicity forms. These forms will ask for keywords, book and chapter abstracts, as well as the names of organizations and journals where they should send review copies. Now, aren’t you glad you have all that information ready?
- If you are active on social media: plan and schedule your social media announcements.
- Draft an announcement to send to disciplinary listservs.
How to Publicize Your Academic Book Just after it is Published
- Update your email signature to include a link to your book. Or, create a clickable image link.
- Send your announcement to listservs.
- Post on social media (ideally, you would have set this to post automatically before).
How to Publicize Your Academic Book in the Coming Months and Years
- Do your New Books Network interview and share it on social media. Listen to my interview with Roxanne Panchasi about Race on Display in 20th- and 21st-Century France on the New Books in French Studies channel.
- Update your bio for conferences, etc. to include your book.
- Submit or have your press submit your book for prizes.
How to Publicize Your Academic Book to the General Public
Again, if you are writing your first book pre-tenure, you should focus most of your efforts above. In this post, I assume that you want to publicize your academic book published with an academic publisher (not a trade press) to the general public. In this case, if you still think the academic arguments you make in your book could be
How to Generate Public Interest in Your Book 1-3 Years Prior to its Publication
- Read Going Public, even if you are not a social scientist. The book teaches you how to make your intellectual projects accessible to the general public. It also addresses topics like building an audience, which is crucial if you want to publish later projects with a trade press (not a university or academic press).
- Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a service that connects journalists with subject matter experts. Depending on your field(s), you will have the opportunity to serve as a source for articles in large publications. In turn, you can use those articles as evidence if you pitch articles to other editors.
- Set up a website where you can develop your book and author platform. Disseminate information and develop a contact list of people who you think would like to know when the book is published. Again, I recommend ReclaimHosting.
How to Generate Public Interest Right Before and After your Academic Book’s Publication
- Pitch pieces in large and niche news media outlets relating to a portion of the book.
- Plan your social media campaigns, email announcements, and in-person speaking events.
Did you do any of the above to publicize your academic book? Have tips to add to the list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or by email!