Which Ducks? The Author’s Promotional Toolbox: Part I

If there’s one truth I’ve found in the new world of electronic publishing, it’s that the primary task once the book or collection is written is promotion. And a corollary to that rule–one I’ve learned the hard way–is that it’s of immense value to have as much descriptive information about your project written, saved, and accessible as possible. To do pain-free promotion (or mostly so) you need to have all of your ducks in a row. The question is: which ducks?

Even modest self-promotion efforts require synopses (long and short), descriptions (long and short), author bios, and cover images (of many sizes). What might be less obvious are the record-keeping tricks that will help you down the line: a list of username and passwords for your social media accounts, the URLs to your book or books on all of the major sellers’ sites, URLs to your books on review sites, and so on.

This list is far from complete, but it’s one I’ve built up from actually slogging through the process; it’s battle-tested. If you can add to it, please give me your 2 cents in the Comments section!

Your Work
I would recommend having the following blurbs/synopses/book descriptions ready and waiting in a Word document (better yet, keep them in a .txt file so you don’t get any strange formatting errors when you paste into an HTML input box).

Also, I should stress that you should work on these and have them ready before you need them. It can be depressing and enervating to have to write some of this stuff while a book blogger’s website sits there, waiting for you to fill in the required information. It’s very satisfying to simply open up the doc, copy the relevant part, and paste it in about three seconds.

  • A very short description of your book
    One sentence, preferably under thirty words. This is your “elevator pitch” in trad pub terms. It’s a catchy summary of your book that you can use in anything from email signatures to blog posts to Tweets.
  • A short description
    400 characters or so. This is the Smashwords maximum for their “Short Description” field and is probably a good length for other sites as well where length is critical.This short description was also useful for fleshing out my book description in a Librarything giveaway, where I ws competing against 75 other titles to attract readers’ attention.
  • A long description
    This might be called “long”, but I would still recommend keeping it under 200 words. You can use this for your Amazon description and in introducing bloggers and book reviewers to your work.

Your Cover
Your cover may well sell your book and the majority of online book stores and bloggers will give you the option of adding it to your book’s description. It’s critical that you catch a would-be reader’s eye with it. Thoughts:

  • Understand the requirements of image resolution (72dpi for the web, 200dpi+ for print) and format (.jpg, .gif, .png for the web; for print there are many others, but usually .tif).Be sensitive to file sizes. Some sites may automatically “downsample” large files, but individual bloggers will not be happy if you send them a 12mb, 300 dpi image of your cover art which they will then have to either alter themselves or (more likely) demand you do it, anyway.
  • Have multiple versions handy. I have 8 versions of my short story anthology’s cover: one thumbnail (60px tall), one small version (144px), four of varying sizes for others’ websites (200px, 210px, 216px, and 423px), the ebook cover itself (823px), and a 300 dpi version for possible posters and brochures.This is overkill, but you see where having at least a thumbnail, small, medium, and large versions might help. If you have hired someone else to do them, make sure you ask for a stable of varying sizes (and note that resizing them yourself without proper image-editing software can often result in a poor quality image).

Part II will cover what information you should have ready about the author (that’s you!) and a suggestion on a tip sheet that you might not have thought of before. Read it here.


Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Tips for eAuthors
3 comments on “Which Ducks? The Author’s Promotional Toolbox: Part I
  1. Ritesh Kala says:

    This is an excellent list from a book blogger’s perspective as well, I ask that authors send the following for everything from book reviews, interviews, book excerpts to guest posts:
    1. Book blurb (should NOT be article length)
    2. Book Cover
    2. Author Bio
    4. Author website / blog
    5, Author Facebook page / twitter handle
    6. Links to where the books can be purchased
    7. List of published works

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Ritesh.

      It’s valuable to get a book blogger’s perspective, since I imagine authors who provide you with accurate, targeted info quickly and efficiently make your life easier and the whole process more pleasant.

  2. […] (This blog post is the second in a two-part series. Read Part I here!) […]

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