The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
The Institute for Humane Studies has posted my series on writing and publishing an academic press book. It includes slightly revised versions of four posts on this topic that I previously put up here at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, plus a new one on how to promote your book. Here is a excerpt from the latter:
Unless you are already famous, or at least a big-name figure in your field, the intended audience for your book probably won't notice it unless you try to bring it to their attention. That applies to both the audience of experts in your field, and any possible broader audience in the general public. This post explains how to do that….
At least initially, the key to attracting both expert and lay interest in your book is reaching out to as wide a range of people and organizations as you can. If you reach out to ten contacts and even one of them pays off in the form of a review, op ed, or speaking opportunity, that's a good result!
Doing that kind of outreach means you will probably get a lot of rejections, and perhaps even more situations where people simply ignore you… When that happens, don't worry! It's just a normal part of the process….
Reaching out to large numbers of people can be difficult; even more so if you know that many of those efforts will likely fail. It's harder still if you're an introvert – as many academics and intellectuals are (myself, included). But you should remember that these kind of rejections are an unavoidable part of becoming a successful author. However great the pain may seem at the time, it will pass soon enough…
I know that from difficult personal experience. The list of people, institutions, and publications that rejected my efforts at outreach at one time or another, is long and distinguished. Every one of the setbacks hurt at the time. But, today, hardly anyone but me remembers any of those rejections. Other people only see the successes….
Promoting your book can be a difficult task, one that doesn't come naturally to most academics. But, if you succeed, you get the enormous benefit of having people take an interest in your work. That in turn enables your ideas to have an impact on your field and even beyond. Isn't that the biggest reason why we write books in the first place?