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5 Stealthy Ways to Help Promote New Books

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

There are so many new releases every week, and publisher dollars are concentrated on a small proportion of those. The rest have to fight for attention, and that can be hard work and also emotionally draining for an author after they’ve already put years of their life into making a book they’re proud of.

Plus, think about it: are you more likely to buy a book that its own author is trying to sell you, or to believe a third party when they tell you it’s good? I know which side I fall on. Even if the author is working their tail off to promote their books, I would argue that third party promotion — from you, for example — is a lot more valuable.

If you have a friend or a favourite author with a book out — especially during these strange times — you might be wondering how best you can help them to get the word out about their book. Preordering it and writing reviews are the top tips, but what if you want to go the extra mile?

Book Club

Lots of book clubs are meeting on Zoom these days, which means it’s easier than ever for authors to drop by and visit. Many authors really enjoy answering questions about their books and their writing process; invite them along to your book club and encourage members to buy their book and read it before the author’s visit. Pro tip: you can add an extra half hour before or after their visit to really get into the nitty gritty of what you did and didn’t like about the book — the author likely doesn’t need to hear that.

Overdrive and Libraries

It’s a real bonus for an author to get their books into libraries. Even if the library only buys one copy, that’s one sale more. It’s also a chance for readers to discover the book and the author. Every potential reader is a potential evangelist for a book — you never know when a reader is going to be the one that falls in love with a book so hard that they buy it for all their friends and recommend it forever. Library patrons are often very enthusiastic about books — exactly the kind of person this might happen to. As for the library workers, they have even more power. Imagine if your friend’s book passes through their hands and they fall in love with it that way: that’s worth its weight in gold.

You can request the physical book from your library, and the process for that will vary according to where you live, especially in 2020. The best thing to do is to email or call and ask how best to recommend a book for the library’s stock.

But if you have a library card (and if you don’t, you can likely get one online in a minute or two), you can also go into the Overdrive app and search for the author in the ebook offerings. If the book is not available, scroll down a little and you’ll see an option to “recommend” below each title. Tap that. There’s no guarantee, of course, but it takes seconds and could make all the difference.

Facebook Groups

There’s a Facebook group for everything — unless it’s books, in which case there are about eleventy million of them. Type “books” or “fiction” into the search bar and you’ll see what I mean.

Facebook groups can be really fun, wholesome places to nerd out about books with fellow obsessives. If you join one or several, you’ll soon find opportunities to naturally recommend books you’re passionate about, whether that’s under a monthly thread of lesser known debuts or a specific question relating to a particular genre or type of book. (Is the book a light read? A deep dive into an esoteric subject? That kind of thing.)

Obviously, I’m not advocating for spamming these groups. You should genuinely only join if you’re interested in talking all things books and reading and throwing out recommendations of all kinds. But since you’re here, reading Book Riot, I’m going to assume that nerding out about books online is something that comes at least somewhat naturally to you.


If the author of the book you’re wanting to help promote isn’t young and cool, they may not have a TikTok account, let alone any idea of how to use it. (Am I projecting? It’s possible.) But if you do — and especially if you are active in the BookTok community — you can be invaluable to them there with a post or two. (Are they even called posts? See what I mean about needing the help from my younger, cooler friends?)

Goodreads Quotes

So you’ve read this new book and underlined a whole load of sentences you like: here’s your chance to put them to good use.

On a desktop, head to Goodreads → community → quotes and at the top right of that page, you’ll see the option to add a quote. Click that, enter the quote, and add as many tags as you can think of relating to the genre and topic of the book. That way, when people are looking for quotes on vampires or cellos for any number of reasons — to add to a blog post, or practise their lettering skills, or whatever — they’ll find that great vampire or cello book you’ve recommended, which they never even knew they were looking for.

Need more ideas for supporting an author? Check out previous posts 99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love and How To Support Authors With Books Out During Social Isolation.