John Corey Whaley: How to Market a First Novel


Wherethingscomebacklogo My first novel, Where Things Come Back, is edited, copyedited, the typeset has been approved, and I’m in the process of reading through what’s called the “first pass” to check for any typos before the book is sent to print. The cover, back cover, and content for the two inside flaps have all been approved as well.

So, now what? The book still doesn’t hit stores for another seven months!!!

Have no fear, there is plenty to do before the novel’s release. The main objective, at this point, is marketing. I’ve recently planned my second trip to New York City, where I will be meeting with the head of publicity for the book. This meeting is for two reasons: to go over the national marketing plan that Simon & Schuster has in mind for my book, and to discuss options for local marketing that can be handled by me. Authors, especially unknown, first-time ones like myself, can decide between letting all of the marketing for their debut be handled by the publisher, or working hard to garner additional interest on their own.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: There isn’t much a first-time novelist can do to promote a book all by himself aside from holding book signings, readings at local libraries, and the like. But, I’ve been considering several different ways of promoting a book in the age of social networking and the internet. Here's what I have so far: 

Idea #1: Facebook/Twitter Campaign. This is done often to promote movies, television shows, and other books. Because these tools are free advertising, it would be silly to exclude them. 

Idea #2:  Viral Marketing. I’m no expert on marketing or anything, but I do know what has always struck my interest. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that movies and television shows, and some products, are able to promote themselves through humor, mystery, and viral videos and websites. I already have a graphic designer friend to help me create some posters and a website for the novel, and, using my connections at local universities and public schools, as well as a connection I have in the Louisiana Public Libraries, I intend on using as many venues as possible to promote the book in this manner. Because it’s a YA novel, meant for ages 14 and up, I feel like a campaign such as this could see some amount of success. 

For now, these are the things I’m working on and thinking about in regards to the upcoming release of Where Things Come Back and it’s all so very exciting and surreal. I’ve also been spending more time working on a second novel and am happy to report that I’ve reached the halfway mark on it. I’m excited to complete a manuscript that I won’t have to wait years and years before getting an agent to read it.  

In fact, Ken Wright is reading the first 100 pages as we speak. 

Happy Writing,


Corey Whaley hails from Shreveport, LA, where he teaches sixth grade english. He signed with Ken Wright, a literary agent at Writers House, last fall using WEbook's AgentInbox query service. His debut novel, Where Things Come Back, was purchased by Simon & Schuster early in 2010.

Read more about Corey's amazing story.


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  1. Don’t forget to call your local talk radio stations too, and see if any would like to conduct an interview with you - it could be on the book itself, or the publishing process. Since this is a YA novel, you could also produce a series of what's called PSA (public service announcements) promoting youth reading programs. The beauty of these is that you can begin them by saying something like... "Hello, I'm author John Corey Whaley..." Radio stations need PSA advertisements to fill commercial breaks during 'off-peak' hours (over night) and will play them randomly, and frequently.
    Practically any website or blog devoted to writing would be very interested in featuring guest posts from you as well.

  2. Congrats on the novel, Corey. Great news! I would use your school contacts as much as possible. Maybe you can make a fun, educational study guide for you book for when you make classroom visits. Also, maybe make some fun promotional videos for your book and post to your website. Just a few thoughts....look forward to reading the finished product

  3. Thanks guys! You gave me some great ideas-I hope to use any and all methods of getting the word out about the book.


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