You’ve handed in your manuscript, completed all the edits and now your job is done. You’re thinking that now it’s up to your publisher’s publicity machine to make your book a success. Wrong.
In most houses that publicity machine has been downsized while the number of books needing publicity and promotion has stayed the same. What’s left is a hard-working group of thoughtful people who truly love books; who would spend all the time in the world to get the word out if it was humanly possible; and who need an author’s cooperation, participation and good-cheer now more than ever before. Remember that these overworked people want your book to succeed.
How does one get to be the author whose publicist tells others: “this author was great to work with,” “the author knew the right people and really helped me get the book into important hands” and I would walk through hot coals for my author?”
It’s essential that authors view themselves as a partner in the publishing process and that includes the marketing and publicity portions of the book publishing cycle. To that end, I’ve enlisted veteran book publicist John G. Ekizian to join me in creating this list of The Top Ten Things Book Publicists Want Authors to Know.
Before you turn over the responsibility for communicating your book’s message to the world, remember.
1. You are a brand.
2. Your book is your first product.
3. Your reputation is on the line and if your first product doesn’t succeed, launching new products or books will be much harder.
4. Therefore, you must be a full partner in promoting your book, finding and alerting potential readers and in general, creating conversations about YOU.
Here’s what can you do?
1. Mobilize your friends, family and fans. They really do want to help—but you have to tell them how they can be most helpful. Start with your immediate fan base, however small. Give them early copies of your book or galleys—or even a PDF of your manuscript. Ask them to read it and give you their feedback. Ask them to write a short review and to post it on Amazon.com, BN.com and Borders.com. Tell them not to gush, but to relate why the book moved or informed them. Ask them if you can post their review to your website. Ask them to give their opinion on your Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Start close to home and create buzz that can build.
2. Influence the influencers: Create a list of the top 25 people in your area of expertise or who write in the same field or genre as you do. Find, read and subscribe to their blogs. Comment whenever they write something that interests you. Become visible, let them know you’re a fan, offer them new content from you whenever appropriate, such as being a guest blogger. You should also consider finding and following them on Twitter and Facebook. Again, interact with them. Pass their blogs, tweets and posts on to others. In other words, hang out on line with people you admire and who you would love to have read your work. After establishing an online relationship, you may have an opportunity to offer them an early galley or ask them to give you a quote. But first you need to be a part of their community and genuinely engaged with them.
3. Find your natural audience: The biggest marketing mistake most people make in book promotion is to assume that everyone will be interested in their book. Books that sell usually begin selling to people who are really interested in the topic. Want to sell a cookbook? Go after the person who has a shelf full of them. Who really cares about your topic? Think about it this way. You were attracted enough to this topic to write a book. Where would you go to learn about you? Would you find the kind of information in your book on CNN? Then that’s your natural audience and you and your publicist should target CNN. Are you writing about romance and mystery? Then maybe CNN may not for you. Every author we’ve ever worked with believes their book is right for Oprah. Not all books are right for Oprah. Watch the shows, see what kinds of guests they book and then make sure your publicist knows which shows most often present the subject matter most similar to your book.
4. Facebook Fan Page: Please create a Facebook Fan Page for yourself. Every author needs one. Name it for yourself, the author. You might call it John G. Ekizian | Author, Speaker. Use your name, then the upward slash and a two to three word qualifier. Those keywords will be useful in identifying you to potential friends and fans and will be Google searchable. Then create a tab with the name of your book. You can add video interviews or author chats that you create yourself. You can use the Events application to invite fans to your personal appearances. You can post news and information about reviews as they come in. This is a wonderfully rich and free tool. Please don’t overlook it.
5. Advertising versus publicizing: Every author wishes that their publisher would place full page ads in the New York Times Book Review for their book. Realistically the more that $75,000 (conservatively) that these types of ads cost isn’t a good investment for your publisher in terms of return on investment. In other words, they’re not recoup $75,000 in books sales from that ad. Publicity is a better investment of marketing dollars because a television appearance, a national publication, a radio tour or other major media can reach far more people than a one-time advertisement in one publication.
6. Webinars and teleseminars: These are the new virtual author tour and can help you reach hundreds and perhaps thousands of potential readers without ever leaving home. A webinar allows participants to view your computer screen and hear you talk as you show either a slide presentation or demonstrate something online. Many webinar hosts also allow for the audience to see you at times during the presentation. Teleseminars are via phone and are audio only but listeners can ask questions via a type-in pod. Both can be very interactive and allow people who might otherwise have not been able to “meet” you, come and hear you talk about your book.
7. Your 30 second pitch: When your publicist meets with national television producers and editors at major publications, he or she has 30 seconds to sell you and your book as a potential story or segment. Help your publicist hone your message down to a short, potent sound byte. Does your book “save lives through new research that proves sound waves are harming children,” or does your book show us “a brand new way to lose weight while you sleep.” These are silly but you get the idea. Think in headlines.
8. Op-Eds: Writing original opinion page articles can be a very effective way to increase an author’s visibility and by association help promote your book. The piece cannot be about your book but must be an opinion about some current affairs topic in which you might be considered a thought leader. For example, if you’ve written a book on World War II, you might write an opinion page article on the lessons learned or overlooked from World War II as we escalate troops in Afghanistan. You’re by-line would include Author of, the title your book. You may not mention your book in the article but positioning yourself as an expert will help you publicist book more media for you. You are sharing your ideas and information because you’re an expert. This part of a visibility strategy.
9. Create Your A List: Pick 10 media targets that you feel are right for your book and learn everything you can about them. Watch the shows, read the magazines and newspapers. Write down the name of the reporter or host who most often seems to be reporting on topics that are similar to your book topic. Share this list with your publicist who rarely has time to watch this much TV. He or she can really use your research skills. This is an excellent way for you to partner with your publicist.
10. Radio: Please don’t forget radio. Both broadcast and internet radio are great ways to reach people who might like your book. Blog Talk Radio and other internet radio platforms are reaching large numbers of people, are archived and accessible on demand and live forever on the internet. Please do not turn down internet radio interview opportunities because you don’t think they are worthy of your time. In fact, while your publicist is working hard on connecting with traditional media, why not reach out via Twitter and Facebook and put together your own Blog Talk Radio tour. Just start talking about your book, offering yourself for interviews, searching and following anyone with a Blog Talk Radio show and engaging with them on your topic.
BONUS TIP: All placements are not equal. You need to get your idea across or the placement is pointless. Working with a talented publicist can help you hone your marketing message into several succinct sound bytes that will be picked up and repeated both online and off to increase your outreach and brand visibility.
Publicity creates conversations about YOU. Be a full partner in making that happen to give your book the best possible opportunity to reach an enthusiastic reading audience.