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Where would you recommend a new author of technical books (operating systems, programming, networking, etc) to go to in order to get help in promoting his work?

Are there any good reviewing services or other types of promotion services?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've never heard of any legit reviewing services for tech books.

All the proposals I've seen from people who do promotions want to charge an arm and a leg, and still expect you to tell them where to promote your work. Don't bother.

Some recommendations, off the top of my head:

  • Make sure your publisher's marketing people know that you want to work with them on promotion. Let them know what you're doing for promotions as well, as you don't want to blow any deals that they're trying to cut.

  • Talk to people you know in the target audience (and you should know plenty if you're a subject matter expert, right?) and ask them where they get their recommendations.

  • Find the on-topic blogs with the largest number of readers and offer them a free review copy (or copies).

  • Talk to any on-topic user group who'll let you speak. Bring books along for giveaways. Bring along a few more to give to the user group leader afterwards to be given away at future meetings.

  • Find the popular podcasts (if any) in the field, and let them know that you'd like to be a guest on their shows.

  • Find popular on-topic mailing lists and answer questions. Always have info about your book in your sig. But never mention your book in the body of an answer unless the question is about book recommendations.

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re: your last point, why do some people so resoundingly resent shameless plugs? –  QuickerSnarkerBacker Feb 3 '11 at 1:50
    
@QuickerSnarkerBacker - that would be a question about psychology, so I can't really make a meaningful guess. My opinion, though: I know that there are people who resoundingly resent even minor plugs, so I try to keep things as straightforward and above-board as I possibly can. And if others then complain about my sig, that's their problem. –  Dori Feb 3 '11 at 2:19

Here is one (probably less traditional) approach, which covers the whole process:

http://www.ashmaurya.com/2011/01/meta-principles-i-learned-from-running-lean/

The idea here is to couple audience discovery and promotion to the actual writing of the book in an iterative process.

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I tend to find technical books through recommendations on Hacker News. You can also submit to other, similar venues - Reddit, Digg, Slashdot, etc.

If you feel like being a bit subversive, you can try Subvert and Profit, a site that sells advertising through social media sites.

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I'm interested more about Hacker News. I use that site from time to time but I have never seen any book recommendations there. Would you have a few links to share as examples? Am curios how do tech books get recommended there. –  user654 Feb 5 '11 at 19:37
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I don't have any saved off-hand, but you can get a feel for the sort of thing that appears by looking through searchyc.com/book. In particular, take a look at, for instance, news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1275259. There's also the quite interesting hn-books.com project. –  Xiong Chiamiov Feb 20 '11 at 17:38

I’ve never answered a question here before, but felt compelled to do so, if only to counter the rather uninformed opinion of “Dori” regarding AuthorsCast. In the interest of full disclosure, I will state right up front that I am actually the owner and administrator of AuthorsCast.

Dori states that AuthorsCast is useful “only if your book is about writing books.” Nothing could be further from the truth -- which would be immediately evident to anyone who has actually listened to any of our content.

The fact is, our format is modeled very much after what you might hear in the mainstream media when authors do a book tour. We dedicate a portion of each episode specifically to the book, but we go well beyond that to discuss the book’s topic (and other related topics) in general terms. We also like to have guests talk about their careers, other projects they have done or may be working on (non-writing ones included), and even will include some personal/lifestyle things about the guest like hobbies, family, and so forth if we think it is of interest to our audience. Our recent interview with Stephen Baker (Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything) is a great example of what we do.

It’s true that we don’t specifically target any one technological field; however, that is something we consider an advantage for our guests. You can be assured that your book will be exposed to a widely diverging audience, many of whom would be unlikely to ever learn of the existence of a particular book except through us.

We are actively seeking interesting and interested authors and books to feature on our show. There is a link in our site's footer at which you may express your interest in appearing as a guest.

We don’t take everyone who asks, but we do promise to give every inquiry fair consideration.

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@Dori To answer your points:

  • The marketing department of my publisher doesn't seem to take any active action in promoting my book. They are letting me do things by myself mostly. No outside the box thinking, special help, etc. They focus mostly on distribution and maybe some deals for some of their series of books with some retailers, but nothing else and nothing truly tailored to each author and/or book.

  • The second & third tip - i already did some stuff on that. What I've discovered is that the effectiveness differs a lot, based on how each blog/site owner has developed his community. Few communities are truly strong.

  • Regarding podcast - i just managed to find a promising one, still a start-up but promising: http://authorscast.com Others might find it useful.

Thanks all for sharing your suggestions. :D

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Is your book about writing books? If so, then AuthorsCast is useful. If not, don't bother. Instead, you want to find podcasts that cover your book topics, i.e., one whose listeners are your target audience. –  Dori Feb 3 '11 at 22:47

Contact the local users group of the technology you've written about. Ask them to read and review your book. Repeat for all users groups on this subject at the national level. check Meetup.com for relevant groups. You'll find like-minded people who are likely to help.

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