There has been a lot of discussion, predictions, and all kinds of rumblings since the recent announcement of the upcoming merger of Random House and the Penguin Group. Our main concern is the authors who will not get the publicity and marketing attention they deserve once these two publishing giants merge.

We have noticed more and more that authors from publishers of all different sizes are feeling that they need to supplement the publicity efforts of their publishers. And they’re not the only ones. Lately, we have received many referrals from literary agents who are also concerned. They don’t want to miss the window of media opportunity that occurs within a month or two of publication. This feeling will be far more widespread after the merger goes through in mid-2013, when it will be next to impossible for the newly created Penguin Random House to give proper attention to all of its authors.

Here are a few easy steps authors can take to help spread the word about their new titles.

1. Create a Web site. Today Web sites are like business cards, and it’s crucial to have one. It can include minimal information: a bio, description of the book, q&a with the author, and reviews. Or it can be interactive, with links to blogs and social media, and include regular updates. There is a range of costs for setting up a site, but you can create a simple one with a limited budget.

2. Build your connections. If you haven’t done so already, several months before your book is published you should work to build your social media contacts. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms, these contacts will be important when it comes time to spread the word about your book. But keep in mind that each of these social media networks works differently. Facebook is more about friends and family; LinkedIn is all about your personal and business connections (and their connections); and Twitter is not just about getting people to follow you; it’s just as important to post comments and reactions to other people’s, organization’s, and media’s Twitter feeds. All of these outlets are great places to post cover art, the press release, interviews, events, reviews, and early feedback. Building relationships is key, but it takes time, so remember to start early!

3. Write op-ed pieces. Whether you are a nonfiction author and an expert in your field or a fiction author who addresses interesting issues in your novel, there are probably several topics related to your book that you can and should discuss. Why not try writing an op-ed and submit it to your local paper, the Huffington Post, relevant blogs, and other outlets to help build your audience? An op-ed is a great tool to include in your press kit, post on your social networking sites, and include on your Web site. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to these media outlets so they know who you are when your book is published.

4. Gather contacts in niche markets. Several months before publication date is also an ideal time to research any niche markets and media outlets that might be relevant to your book. Is your title a mystery? romance? science-fiction? Are you a Jewish writer? Does your book have gay/lesbian characters or themes? Are there organizations or specialty museums that might be interested in hosting you for a lecture? These are just a few examples of how to think beyond the typical book channels. If your publisher doesn’t have the time to do all of this legwork, then it’s important for you to try to get it done.

5. Hire an outside publicist. Some of the steps described above are time-consuming. If you don’t have the time, you might want to consider hiring a freelance publicist to help develop an appropriate campaign and do most of the legwork for you. An experienced publicist will make sure not to step on your publisher’s toes and will be able to develop a publicity campaign that will work with your goals and budget.