Increase the Chances of Your Book Becoming a Breakout Hit

Last week, I did an interview with IndieBookSpot that covers a wide range of territory, including platform building, marketing and promotion, and social media. One of the questions asks, “How can an author increase the chance that their book will be a breakout hit?” I offer five points; here are the first three:

  1. Have an excellent relationship with your publisher, assuming you have one (including your editor, marketing team, and publicist). Make sure to the best of your ability you have their full support and that you’re giving them everything they need.
  2. Set aside a budget for marketing and promotion. Even a few hundred dollars is helpful, e.g., for review copies and promotional items.
  3. Hire a publicist for about 3-6 months to assist you in areas where your publisher will fail to do so, and to help you get media mentions.
  • Imagine you’ve just been put in charge of one of the big publishers, and you have to come up with a new digital strategy. Day one: what do you do first?
  • Most authors now have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but do you think Pinterest is going to be a useful marketing tool for authors? What about Tumblr? And how do you draw together all these disparate platforms to create a cohesive online identity?
  • What’s the difference between being ‘engaged’ with an audience and being pushy? It seems there’s a fine line sometimes, and it’s so easy to misinterpret tone and intent online.
  • What is an author platform? How can someone build their platform from scratch?
  • When it comes to marketing, many people want a checklist of things to do. But beyond the basics, doesn’t it have to be a more organic process, and perhaps one that develops over time as an author learns his or her strengths and weaknesses?

 Click here to read the full interview.

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Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer's Digest, where she ultimately became publisher; more recently, she was an editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she led digital strategy. Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017). Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.
Posted in Marketing & Promotion, Social Media.


  1. Hire a publicist? Really? I’ve heard so many stories about publicists being a complete waste of time I’d be very nervous of wasting my money. Do you elaborate on this somewhere? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • You can read a little elaboration here:

      It’s true: There are a lot of bad publicists who you can waste your money on. You don’t want a publicist who can reach “thousands.” You want a publicist with a core list of media contacts who will actually return your calls. Their website should tell who their past/current clients are and what media attention they’ve garnered for those clients. If their website doesn’t list this information, don’t hire them.

      Aside from helping you get media attention, publicists are also helpful for very new authors who don’t understand the basics of marketing and promotion. 

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