• Allison Gilbert
  • Why Post-Pub Marketing Is More Important than Pub-Day Publicity
This blog was featured on 06/07/2017
Why Post-Pub Marketing Is More Important than Pub-Day Publicity
Written by
Allison Gilbert
June 2017
Written by
Allison Gilbert
June 2017

One of the most exciting times in an author’s long path to publication is the moment her editor reveals when the title will be available for sale. Like weddings or 21st birthday celebrations, pub dates loom large and become all-consuming. Almost immediately, nearly every marketing and PR conversation is geared toward this one day. Will the book review post on time? Will TODAY or GMA book me as a guest?  If the publicity campaign doesn’t fly when my book is new, can the book still be a success?

Yes! You can sell lots of books even if fewer people than you’d like recognize your work on pub day. Two contemporary publications come to mind: Hidden Figures and 13 Reasons Why. Both books got enormous boosts from Hollywood long after their pub dates. And while most titles don’t get made into movies or a series for Netflix, just consider The Joy of Cooking as yet another example of a book reaching blockbuster status years after initial publication. Lore has it that Irma Rombauer used much of her life savings to finance the first printing of her book. In the many decades since, The Joy of Cooking has sold more than 18 million copies.

Soledad O’Brien, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,
and Allison Gilbert

I’ve slowly learned to embrace the long road. Without question, I wanted to appear on CNN when my latest book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, launched. But after writing four books I’ve come to recognize TV appearances don’t always translate into book sales. What works for me (and still does more than a year after the publication of Passed and Present) is creating fun and interactive events and workshops that attract readers who are interested in the subjects I write about – grief and resilience. I built my months-long book tour around this concept. (You can read more about this initiative and other marketing strategies I’ve previously explored here.)

This long-range perspective has opened me up to new and unexpected opportunities. I recently took on a new role as Executive Family & Memories Editor at Legacy Republic. I learned about Legacy Republic when I was writing Passed and Present and included the company’s innovative work as one of my favorite ideas for celebrating, honoring, and keeping the memory of loved ones alive. Our partnership is authentic and feels right because it blossomed organically from my reporting.  And of course it’s my hope that more copies of Passed and Present find their way into readers’ hands because of our relationship.

For me, only one pub date remains truly memorable. Parentless Parents came out on February 15, 2011. Looking back, the reason this date is still important to me is because my son (he was 11-years-old at the time) presented me that morning with three miniature porcelain jewelry boxes, each with a number printed on it: 2, 1, and 5. Those little cubes are still the best things that happened to me that day.

Passed and Present received significant national media attention on pub day.  I’m convinced, however, that my editorial position with Legacy Republic will help ensure it finds a permanent home on my publisher’s backlist, a coveted spot for any author. Nothing is worse than a great pub day followed by the soul-crushing discoveries years later that your book has been remaindered or gone out of print.

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