Public Relations Blog

Publicizing a book? What to expect and when.

to do listWhat happens next? —A question I am asked all the time when it comes to a publicity campaign for a book, especially from new authors and clients. It’s time to lay down an outline of the process so you are armed with enough information that you can move on to other things on your list.

Let’s think back to economics classes where we used the infamous widget to represent all products and publish our own “mock” book called The Widget World Guide, which has a publication date of August 12, 2014, six months from now. Your have a publicist, Jen, whom you’ve hired or been assigned by the publisher. Now what?

First, we work backwards from the publication date in order to plan out the campaign with some facts in mind:

  • Magazine and trade publications are considered “long leads” and their lead time is anywhere from four — five months.
  • Newspapers and blogs have shorter leadtimes, but still like to have time to consider books, so let’s say they need 3 — 4 months to look at your book for review. Features consideration is tighter and can happen 2 months ahead of publication.
  • Radio can be pitched 2 — 3 months in advance depending on the program.
  • National television, like morning shows, may need up to 4 months.
  • Event planning in bookstores needs to happen at least 4 months ahead of time to get the best stores.
  • Lectures and other speaking engagements are booked at least 6 months to a year or more in advance depending on the venue.
  • So with this information in hand, here is a tentative calendar of to do items for Jen leading up to The Widget World Guide’s publication in July.



  • Consultation with author to go over the plan and discuss author’s contacts, social media profile, and to brainstorm ideas.
  • If author does not already have social media accounts, create them and work with author on populating content.
  • If author has a blog or wants to blog, discuss ways to maximize the effectiveness of content.
  • Ask publisher/author if and when there will be advance copies of the book to send for review consideration and media outreach.
  • Reach out to off-site venues for events if applicable


  • Prepare press materials
  • Prepare media lists
  • Send out mailing of review copies/press release to long leads, national media, and book review editors
  • Set up bookstore events if applicable


  • Start follow up with newspapers and blogs
  • Follow up on long lead mailing (magazines, trades, nationals) to secure reviews/interviews three weeks after mailing has gone out.


  • Continue contacting and firming up plans with long leads, newspapers, nationals and blogs.
  • Schedule any travel arrangements for August events.
  • Send out press release and event announcements to local media in event markets.
  • Book local media
  • Follow up with regional radio programs and book interviews
  • Create and maintain schedule of interviews and appearances


  • Confirm interviews two days prior.
  • Send links of reviews/interviews to author and publisher
  • Pitch additional media
  • Continue follow up on any potential coverage that has not yet come through

The scenario above is the “ideal” time frame given that materials are available in advance and everything goes as planned. I’ve also left out many specifics that would be for your individual campaigns. This is meant to be a “guide” not the manual on how to mount a campaign.


So having stated all of those qualifiers, I hope this is helpful to people starting out in the process. One thing about publicity and public relations is that there is no “one way” to do things after everything is said and done. Each book/campaign requires analysis on an individual level and a good campaign will be one made especially for you. But we do know that media operate on deadlines and there is a lot of competition. I like to be ahead of the curve and get out there as early as possible, but I’ve been doing this long enough (nearly twenty years at this point) to know that a good PR person will shift strategy and compensate when she has to in order to make sure her client is going to receive the maximum coverage and have the best possible outcomes.