The Institute for Human Studies has published my series on writing and publishing an academic press book. It includes slightly revised versions of four posts on the same subject that I previously posted here on the Volokh Conspiracy blog, plus a new one on how to promote your book. Here is an excerpt from the latter:
Unless you’re already famous, or at least a well-known figure in your field, your book’s target audience probably won’t notice unless you try to get them to see it. This applies to both the audience of experts in your field and any wider audience in the public. This post explains how to do that.
At least initially, the key to getting both experts and laypeople interested in your book is to reach the broadest possible range of people and organizations. If you get ten contacts and even one pays off in the form of a review, opinion, or opportunity to speak, that’s a good result!
If you make this type of contact, you will likely get a lot of rejections, and maybe even more situations where people just ignore you … if that happens, don’t worry! It’s just a normal part of the process….
Reaching large numbers of people can be difficult. This is even more true when you know that many of these efforts are likely to fail. It’s even harder when you’re introverted – so many academics and intellectuals (myself, included). But you should remember that this type of rejection is an inevitable part of being a successful writer. As great as the pain is, it will go away soon enough …
I know this from difficult personal experience. The list of people, institutions, and publications who have rejected my public relations efforts at one time or another is long and excellent. Each of the setbacks hurt at the time. But today hardly anyone except me remembers one of those rejections. Others only see the successes….
Promoting your book can be a daunting task that most academics don’t take for granted. But when you succeed, you have the tremendous advantage that people are interested in your work. This, in turn, allows your ideas to have an impact on your area of expertise and even beyond. Isn’t that the main reason we write books in the first place?