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Best Sellers Aren?t Written ? They?re Made - It?s All About Promotion

Writing a book is becoming more and more of a trend these days. In fact, an estimated 5,000 mystery books were published last year in the United States alone, and that number is expected to grow. With so much competition, making the best-seller list is no easy task. So how is it that out of the thousands of mysteries published each year, some become best-sellers while others never get past the publisher's front door? The answer is simple ? promotion.

Strategy is Key

Many authors are so confident that their book will sell itself, but unfortunately, that simply isn't the case. To hit the best-seller lists, you need to devote a lot of time to marketing. Promotion is important, because even if you think your book is destined to be a best-seller, no one will buy the book if you don't market it and set up the appropriate distribution outlets.

At this point many authors proclaim: "But my publisher is supposed to market my book, not me." That's not entirely true. While the publisher does want your book to sell (that is, after all, how they make money), with all the books a publisher represents, their PR department can't possibly give your book the attention it deserves. They're often promoting multiple books at once and must spread out their time and resources fairly between everyone.

That's where the author comes in. By taking charge of your book's promotion, you can make it to the best-seller list.

The first step in devising a promotion strategy is to create a powerful media kit. You can be the most brilliant book promoter in the world, yet fail at making your book a bestseller if you do not have a strong and persuasive media kit. Why? Well, you may be able to talk a good game and get people excited about your book, but when they ask for your press kit and see a measly, uninformative packet with a few clippings and nothing more, all your build-up will fall flat.

What's in a Media Kit?

Think of a media kit as your book's resume. If it doesn't look good, it certainly won't attract the interest of media, distributors, or bookstores. The kit should contain:

1. A cover letter ? A one-page letter that entices the reader to open your kit.

2. A press release ? Usually one page long, the press release describes your book and its timeliness.

3. A mock book review ? A one to two-page overview of your book that gives the highlights.

4. An author biography ? A one-page document that introduces your credentials for writing the book.

5. A book sell sheet ? A one page flyer for your book that gives ordering information and sell copy.

6. A book catalog sheet ? A one page information piece that gives the technical details, such as how many books come in a case, the book's sales handles, the author's publicity campaign, etc.

7. A novelty item such as a postcard of the book's cover, a bookmark, a counter card, etc. ? Including a novelty item makes you memorable. It also showcases some of your marketing efforts.

You Can Do It!

With a powerful media kit, you can keep the momentum strong and get people begging for more. This, in turn, will lead them to buy the book, which could ultimately lead you all the way to the top of the best-seller list.

Dawn Josephson is president and founder of Cameo Publications, an editorial and publishing services firm based in Hilton Head Island, SC. She is also the author of Putting It On Paper: The Ground Rules for Creating Promotional Pieces that Sell Books and the co-author (with Lauren Hidden) of the new book Write It Right: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros. . For more information, please call 843-785-3770, e-mail, or visit

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