How to Enlist “Interns” for Free: Getting Friends and Family to Help You Promote Your Book


Getting Help to Promote Your Book Launch PartyA recent article on The Creative Penn called “Divide and Conquer: Building an Author Platform by Proxy” got me thinking about the idea of enlisting an intern, or several interns, to help with some of the promotion and online marketing work that most authors are expected to handle themselves these days.

Well, maybe not an intern in the traditional sense — (I’m assuming you don’t offer college credits or the chance of permanent employment) — but… free help.

In “Divide and Conquer,” Kristin Morin talks about assisting her husband, a fantasy novelist, with some of his social media engagement, and how they strategically segmented the labor involved. While this is certainly a great approach, not everyone has someone in their life who’s willing to take on such an ongoing endeavor.

So what’s a good, effective alternative to having a kind of permanent assistant?

Let’s take a page out of the DIY rock band play-book.

Book Launch Promotion Pizza Party!Throw a pizza party!

Wait, seriously? A pizza party?

Well, you’re not going to get a bunch of people to work diligently on your behalf for weeks on-end for free. It’s more realistic to rally a small group of your supporters (friends, readers, family) around a particular event (your book launch) for a short period of time (say, a Saturday or two), and then make it fun for everyone!

Whenever I was about to put out a new album of music, I’d buy food and drinks for six people, have ’em come to my house, and we’d each work at our designated task for about six to eight hours: printing press releases, stenciling mailers, removing shrink wrap from CDs, adding address labels, emailing a couple hundred music critics and bloggers, etc.

The same approach could easily be used for a book launch.

Your temporary interns could help you with:

  • Printing press releases
  • Putting together mailers for book critics and/or pre-order sales
  • Emailing or visiting local libraries, bookstores, and other outlets that might carry your book
  • Routing a book tour
  • Planning or executing details of a book launch party
  • Shooting a book trailer or video Q&A
  • Writing to book forums and recommendation engines
  • Commenting on blogs
  • Posting favorable reviews on Amazon
  • And much more

Why would anyone help you promote your book launch for free?

You’ll be able to enlist help because these big events only happen once a year (or less) and your friends, family, and fans will feel a sense of excitement playing a crucial role in your book launch. Plus, they get to hang out with the coolest author they know.

Remember: don’t be a slave driver.

One or two days of group effort won’t turn you into Stephen King. In fact, eight hours spent with food, drink, and good company probably only amounts to about six hours of work per-person; but with six helpers on your side, you’ve just saved yourself almost a week’s worth of promotional work! Be appreciative for what CAN be accomplished.

Have you ever tried this approach? How did it go? Who did you enlist? How did they help? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."


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