99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love

Claire Handscombe


Claire Handscombe moved from Europe to DC in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but actually – let’s be honest – because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan, and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives. She also hosts the Brit Lit Podcast, a fortnightly show of news and views from British books and publishing. Blog: the Brit Lit Blog. Twitter: @BookishClaire

You’ve bought a book, and you’ve fallen in love. Or, your best friend’s first novel is coming out. How do you make sure as many people hear about these books you love or these authors you care about? I have a feeling, completely unquantifiable and unprovable but borne out by my own experience, that the more times someone hears about or sees a book, the more likely they are at least to check it out and see if it’s something they would enjoy. So all of the things below matter! They may seem like tiny things, and many of them are, but cumulatively, they make a difference. Many of them take seconds and most of them cost nothing. But if you want to put in serious money, time, creativity and commitment, there are options for those, too.

Note: it’s probably best to spread these out over days, weeks, or even months, and across different social media, so that people don’t get thoroughly sick of the very mention of the book in question. That said, the first few days of a book being out are crucial, so by all means go all out (within non-spammy reason) during that first week.

Buy the book. Buy it early. Buy it often.

That first week of sales matters immensely.

1. Pre-order the book.

2. When the online store prompts you to, share that pre-order on social media.
3. Buy the book for other people.

Read (or at least start reading) the book.

This is necessary for many of the other steps, and also so you can make eye contact with your friend. (That said, your friend would probably prefer you buy the book and not read it, rather than not buying it at all.)

4. Read the book in public places.
5. Read other books inside this book so that it always looks as if you’re reading the book even when you’re not.
6. Get your book club to read the book.
7. Invite the author to your book club discussion, then blog or tweet about the experience.

Talk about the book.

8. Talk about it to everyone you know.
9. Talk about it in public places, perhaps slightly more loudly than is strictly necessary. (But not in the quiet car on the train. This will not evoke warm fluffy feeling towards the book.)
10. Mention the book when you’re commenting on Book Riot’s Inbox/Outbox posts. (Keep it non spammy and genuine though!)

Review the book.

11. Review it on Amazon.
12. Review it on other countries’ Amazon stores, especially, if it’s a book in English, on and .ca.
13. If you speak another language, write a review in the relevant Amazon stores too.
14. Copy and paste your review into Goodreads.
15. Copy and paste your review into every other store you can find: Kobo, Barnes and Noble, WH Smith, Chapters, Fnac.
16. Copy and paste your review onto your blog.


17. Click on the little face and do an “am reading” status update – preferably one that shows the book’s cover.
18. Like the book.
19. Like the author’s page.
20. Invite your friends (selectively, in a non spammy way) to like the book and the author’s page.
21. Use the “add a short bio” that we’re now offered to say you’re reading the book.

Libraries and Bookshops

22. Request the book at the library.
23. Ask a bookstore employee if they have the book, even if you know they do and you know where it is. You want the booksellers to keep hearing about this book so that they have it fresh in their mind when it comes to recommending things (“hand-selling,” in bookstore parlance).
24. Pick up the book, and very obviously read it. For bonus points, make appreciative sounds or faces as appropriate.
25. Slightly rearrange the book on the shelf so that its cover is facing outward (but the display is still tidy so a bookseller will not immediately spot it and change it back, and also so you are being respectful to the bookshop).
26. Take a picture of the book in its natural habitat and post it on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/your social network of choice.
27. If you see someone else pick up the book, tell them about how great it is or why you like it or how lovely the author is.
28. Talk to the librarian or bookshop person about the book when you pay for it or check it out.
29. If you or someone you know works in a library or bookshop, talk to them about hosting an author event.
30. Call the Penguin Hotline and ask for books that are similar to this one.


31. Take a picture of the book in some arty way and post it with the hashtag #bookstagram. (Search that hashtag for inspiration of said arty things, if you’re not that way inclined.)
32. Also add whatever the preferred hashtag is for the title of the book. Then click on that hashtag and like all the relevant posts.
33. Take a picture of the book with coffee and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #booksandcoffee, as well as the title hashtag. Repeat with #booksandwine.
34. Post a picture of yourself reading the book, with the cover out.
35. If you see someone reading the book in public, take a surreptitious photo and post that too – although it’s probably best to ask permission if you’re going to use their face.
36. If you happen to be in New York City and see someone reading it who happens to be a hot dude, take a picture and email it to for their Instagram feed.
37. Pile up all the books you have that have the same themes or the same setting or the same author or the same genre and take an arty picture. Post in on Instagram with a few good hashtags and link to the all the other social media.
38. Post a shelfie on Instagram and/or Pinterest, and link it to your other social media accounts.

Leave the book in strategic places.

Preferably with some kind of sticker or note indicating that it is there to be taken and read. If you want to join something official to help with this, is a good place to start.

39. Leave it on public transport.
40. Leave it in one of those airport bookstores where you can leave a book/take a book.
41. Leave it on a bench in the park, if it doesn’t rain much where you live.
42. Leave it in a Little Free Library.
43. Donate a copy to your local library.
44. Donate a copy to the local charity shop/Goodwill store.
45. Lend it to your friends.


Get an account if you don’t have one already, add friends, and populate it with other books, preferably ahead of time, so that you don’t look like a spamming marketing machine when the time comes.

46. Search for the book. Click on “want to read” under the cover picture.
47. Enter the Giveaway if there is one. (You already own the book, yes, but you can do many things with this spare copy if you do win it, and your entering the Giveaway will show up on people’s timelines, which is the point of many of these things.)
48. In the top right corner, click on “recommend it”. Send it selectively to the people you genuinely think will enjoy it, if possible using the “add message” function.
49. About half way down the book’s Goodreads page, under “lists with this book”, click on “more lists with this book”. Then click on each list; you’ll be taken to where the book appears in that list. Click on “vote for this book”.
50. On the top right corner of the “lists with this book” page, there is an option to search lists, and to create lists. Do a search for lists, anything that is related to the book, and add it if it’s not there already. For example, Books set in x town or books published in 2009.
51. Think about what other lists might work for this book: blue covers, books coming out in 2017, books set in Italy, etc. Be creative. Make the list; add the book; add some others, too.
52. Follow the author or add the author as a friend.
53. Ask the author questions on their Goodreads author page.
54. Under the Explore tab, go to Quotes, and add your favourites from the book or like them if they’re already there.
55. Like good reviews of the book.


56. Set your email signature via Goodreads to display the cover of your friend’s book at the bottom of each email.

The List App (or your blog)

Here’s a handy refresher if you’ve yet to get the app. It’s like a DIY Buzzfeed or a smarter Twitter – where you can make and share lists. Of, if you can’t get the app (it’s iPhone only for the moment), use these prompts for blog posts instead.

57. Make a list of reasons you love this book.
58. Make a list of your favourite quotes from the book.
59. Break the review into bullet points and post it as a list.
60. Post interview questions and (short) answers with the author.
61. Make a list of all the emotions you felt while reading the book, with pics or emoji or gifs.
62. Add the book to all the relevant lists where people are asking for recommendations or books on a specific subject.
63. Write about other things tangentially connected with the book and work in a mention of the book.
64. Click the “…” at the bottom right of the list, and use this function to tweet the lists, and share them in other ways, too.

Your Blog

See above, but also:

65. Host a giveaway. (The author or her publicist may be able to help you with this.)
66. Blog about the experience of having a friend with a published book.

Get Creative

67. Write an essay about your relationship with the book for your blog, or submit the essay to literary journals or book magazines or places like BuzzFeed Books or LitHub or as your audition piece for becoming a Book Riot contributor.
68. Design book swag like t-shirts and cushions and sell them through your Society 6 store (check this is okay with the author first, though).
69. Make a playlist for the book and share it on The List App and/or Spotify.
70. Make a graphic quote (tips here) and post it on Pinterest.
71. Draw a picture of the author, Kate Gavino style, or salient feature of the book, and post it on Tumblr or Pinterest.
72. Design themed jewellery for your Etsy store
73. Write fan fiction and post links to it on social media
74. Write the title and name of the author in chalk on the pavement/sidewalk outside your home.
75. Host a party on the theme of the book.


76. Talk about the book on your podcast, or if you’re interviewed on another podcast.
77. Interview the author on your podcast.
78. Write to the hosts your favourite relevant podcasts and suggest they interview the author/talk about the book. (For “relevance”, think broadly: if it’s a book about ballet, for example, contact the ballet podcasts as well as the book podcasts.) Note: be polite, to the point, and non spammy. Send one email (or tweet) and let it go.


79. Add a couple of your favourite sentences to this new social network that’s designed to share book quotes.

Wear or carry or use book swag.

I bet your friend will have some you can use, or would be happy to get you some, or even let you design it. Best to check though!

80. Get a t-shirt for the gym.
81. Dress up as the book for Halloween.
82. Get a temporary tattoo.
83. Get a permanent tattoo.
84. Get a book-themed manicure.
85. Get a quote or the title of the book as a custom designed necklace or bracelet from Etsy.
86. Get a mug made with a quote from the book or its cover and judiciously leave it around the office.
87. Get a phone case featuring the book in some way.
88. Set your friend’s book cover as the lock screen and/or background screen on your phone – it can serve as a conversation starter or as a visual aid for when you’re talking about the book.


89. Video yourself speaking enthusiastically about the book.
90. Make a book trailer if the book doesn’t have one already. Share the links to it on social media.


91. Play along with relevant hashtag games.
92. Tweet about the book with hashtags like #fridayreads, #amreading, #memoir, #beachreads, etc.
93. Tweet about the author on a Friday with the #ff (follow Friday) hashtag.
94. On a Monday, tweet a link to a blogpost that mentions the book, with the hashtag #MondayBlogs. (Play fair and also retweet a couple of other tweets with this hashtag.)
95. Search for the author’s name or the book title’s name and selectively, sporadically retweet positive mentions.


96. Make a board of things associated with the book.
97. Search relevant pins, and like, comment, and repin them.

All social media

98. Follow the author on Facebook, Twitter, the List App, and every other form of social media that has been invented by the time you’re reading this.
99. Like and repost the author’s posts, including links to their other writing. Do this generously.

Your friend will love you forever. Trust me – I’d know.