Promoting Your Book Online: Avoiding Burnout

By Samantha Garner

Promoting Your Book Online: Avoiding Burnout by Samantha Garner. Image of silver laptop on white desk next to holder full of pens and writing notebook, background of blurry trees behind large window. Solid grey section along top of banner with text overlaid. Open Book logo at bottom left corner.

Does anyone else remember back in the mists of time when you didn’t know your favourite writer had a book coming out until you saw it on the shelf? You may have attended a reading or read an interview with them, but that was often the extent of it. 

Gone are the days when writers could take a hands-off approach to marketing and promoting their work. As writers now, we’re expected to be at the forefront of our book promotion—both short-term and long-term. It’s fun and easy for some, but stressful and confusing for others. And even though I’ve been writing online in some form for decades, I’m often in the latter camp. I’ve written about my experience of intense overwhelm after the publication of my debut novel, and since then I’ve been on a mission to make online marketing and promotion a gentler experience—without harming my career.

If you’re like me, you might appreciate these three ways to promote your book online without burning out.


Make a plan

Ideally, you should create some sort of online marketing strategy well before your book launch. Not only will this give people time to hear about it, but you’ll also have more time and less pressure. To start with, think about where you feel most comfortable online. Do you love blogging? Are you constantly thinking of YouTube video ideas? Play to your strengths! What kind of content can you post in the places you like best? How often can you post there without feeling overwhelmed?

Conventional book marketing advice often suggests first figuring out where your ideal audience hangs out online. There’s value in doing that when promoting your books, sure, but I’d argue that it’s more valuable to put your online efforts somewhere you enjoy being. If you’re in it for the long haul, wouldn’t you rather have fun? Planning how, what, and even when you’ll post will keep you more in the driver’s seat instead of hanging on to the bumper by your fingernails.

Oh, and if you’re like me and find to-do lists somehow a personal insult even if you’ve created them yourself, feel free to be a little freeform in this planning. “Mostly vibes” is fine. However, I do recommend some sort of structure to help ground you in your efforts.


Create a persona

As someone whose social anxiety always makes me feel like an alien wearing a human suit, I found it valuable to create the Writer Samantha persona. She’s almost the same as me, but tends to stick to a few topics relevant to her writing, and she’s prepared general talking points on these things. I haul her out whenever I give an interview or talk about my books online.

It might sound strange and even inauthentic to do this, but it’s been so helpful for promotion. I no longer flail around uselessly when asked questions in interviews, which does wonders for self-confidence. It’s also helped me focus the way I show up online. I cut my teeth on the early nineties internet where nobody knew your real name but they knew everything else about you. When I realized that the publication of my book would mean a bit more attention on me overall, I started losing the urge to share anything and everything online. That isn’t to say, of course, that you should only ever talk about writing, but defining boundaries for yourself online can help avoid stress and burnout.


Cultivate an online space you’re in control of

Every time I write about social media I wince when I have to name any actual platforms. Remember Vine? Remember Google Buzz? Remember Sunnlyt? I made that last one up, but the list of defunct social media platforms is so long that I’ve never heard of some of them, so why not? It’s good to focus on social media that you enjoy, but it’s also good to build an online space that’s unlikely to disappear forever. Your website is the best place for this. A newsletter is a good option too—newsletter providers can fold, but you get to keep the names and email addresses of your subscribers and continue the conversation elsewhere if that happens. By building up your own online space, you don’t need to worry about restrictions or even the continued existence of social media platforms. And when you do need a break from doomscrolling, it’s nice to have a place of your own that feels familiar and manageable.

How can you make this online space work for you? Try writing longer content that’s interesting to readers, like a blog series about your research process, or information about all the different locations your book takes place in. You can compile your media interviews or articles on one page. And to keep you from reinventing the wheel every time someone wants to feature you online, create a media kit page that contains your official bio, headshot, book cover images, and info about your books.

The internet really does feel like an infinitely expanding universe sometimes, and trying to find the best strategies for promoting our books online can be overwhelming. I hope these three tips have given you a bit of a roadmap for marketing your work online without the burnout. In my next column I’ll share one other way I’ve learned to have a bit more fun in the world of online marketing: literary citizenship. 

The views expressed by Open Book columnists are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Samantha Garner is the author of The Quiet is Loud, shortlisted for the 2022 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. A Canadian of mixed Filipino-Finnish background, her character-driven fantasy novels explore themes of identity and belonging. When not writing, Samantha can be found daydreaming in a video game or boring a loved one with the latest historical fact she’s learned.

She can be found online at and on Instagram and Twitter at @samanthakgarner.