The self-help genre is one of the most successful in publishing, and its momentum shows no sign of slowing down. But success isn't guaranteed if you're writing a self-help book and don't carefully plan a marketing campaign to support its launch. Literary agents and many other book pros know from experience how much difference a targeted marketing program can make. Book PR firms can help if your budget allows you to hire a publicist. If not, you may have success handling your marketing DIY. It's a time-consuming endeavor (just as time-consuming as writing generally) and requires focus to succeed.
One of the best things about being a self-help author is that you have a direct path to being unique and newsworthy. It requires nothing more than taking a unique angle or perspective (perhaps also controversial?) position on a well-known topic. When you give a new perspective on something people find interesting, you make news. Think about the news Dr. Atkins made when telling people they could lose weight by eating high-fat foods. It also helps if you have credentials that support your expertise in the subject area of your book. Each of these will help you win media attention and their coverage.
Successful authors today all have well-developed digital platforms. A well-designed website with excellent content (images, words, possibly video) needs to be in place. If possible, an accompanying blog is also helpful. The website content is updated periodically, and the blog allows opportunities for more frequent posts. You can post about topics discussed in your book to gain attention and get readers interested. Social media also plays a role, and make sure you post to your accounts consistently but not too much. On the flip side, never leave them dormant because it makes a poor impression – keep them active.
Wherever you or your book are mentioned, your key messages should be included. It can take several impressions to get someone to remember or purchase a book. Therefore, you need to take opportunities to get the right content across to your target readers. Always avoid the hard-sell approach. The art of effective publicity is to gently and interestingly include the key messages. You'll become better at it over time. It's also crucial to avoid common mistakes like prefacing your answer to a question by saying it's written in your book. With the right PR approach, you can become successful.