Last week we introduced you to our Public Relations team, which helps to promote our authors and their newly released books. There was so much great information to share, but we couldn’t fit it all into one blog post. So here is part two of our book publicity tips for current and aspiring authors.
How does an author keep his/her name out there as much as possible between books? (Question from our author, Pam Hillman, who wrote Claiming Mariah)
Todd: The author needs to pick a topic or two in which s/he can become an expert so that they can present themselves to media in that manner. Ideally they’d become a go-to person on a particular topic. I think this becomes more difficult for a fiction authors. I think for fiction authors, the most important way to “keep their name out there” is to find ways to continually engage with their readers and to do so in a one-on-one manner as often on possible. If they are on Twitter and have a decent following, Twitter and/or Facebook Q&As, are a good way to engage and doesn’t always have to be top-down. Asking a “What do you think about this question” and getting feedback from readers about any topic can help reader/author relationships.
Christy: Avoid building your online presence around just your book. Your website, your social media accounts, etc. should all be focused on your brand as an author. This is especially important if you want to write more than one book. Like Todd said, you need to be an expert in your field or at least have a niche topic that you generally write about and want to be known for (i.e. leadership, marriage, motherhood, writing, etc.). It could be helpful to see what search words people are typing when they find your website or blog. You want your readers to come to you for information on that particular topic because they know you’ll have something good to say. Engage with people about these topics on Facebook, Twitter, and through blog posts. It’s also good to avoid making all your social media posts about your book. That ends up looking like a big advertisement and people are turned off by that.
What advice would you give an author looking to promote his/her book?
Todd: Authors have to take ownership in promoting their books and they have to begin far in advance of the book launch. I know it’s cliché but an author’s platform is important. Even more importantly, if an author wants to sell books he or she can’t stop promoting after the initial launch; book selling is a long-term proposition. It’s rare that a book has huge sales out of the gate. The books that ultimately sell well are those that authors take great ownership in and don’t let die just because the initial publicity window has passed. If you want a great example of this, research Rob Mitchell’s book, Castaway Kid, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and is in its 13th printing because the author simply won’t let the book die.
Erin: Engage your fans and potential fans early! Social media and self-promotion are huge, although you don’t want to overdose your followers with updates. Diversify your presence to keep it interesting and discuss a variety of topics that will genuinely interest readers. Starting far ahead of release date will give you an opportunity to build a fan base and form relationships that are ready and waiting by the time your book releases.
After a book is released, what can an author do to keep the momentum going?
Todd: Authors, even if they aren’t comfortable doing it, have to be willing to speak. These don’t have to be large engagements; local churches, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, libraries, and book stores are important. Emerging authors shouldn’t expect to do a book signing and have more than friends and family show up at the store. Well-established, high-profile authors aren’t even a guarantee to have large book signings these days. Create a blog and write about your book topics but don’t think that you can just start writing without promoting your blog. You need to be on Twitter and Facebook and link your blog to those platforms, your writing needs to be creative and updated often, and you have to write about what people want to read. I’d also encourage authors to start doing podcasts as well. I’d also consider hiring a freelance publicist. It isn’t always the big-name publicists that are the best either. Find someone or a group who you have determined truly has the time to adequately promote your book. Don’t forget that publicists at a publisher are promoting a number of books at the same time as yours. We get spread very thinly, especially now that marketing budgets have shrunk throughout the industry.
Andrea: The key is to keep talking about the book and look for ways to stay in front of consumers. Look for ways to tie your book to news stories if possible. Meet with book groups and talk about your book- in person and virtually through Skype or Google+. Offer your book to bloggers for review. Continue to talk about your book on Facebook and other social media channels.
Erin: Maintain up your online platform, speaking schedule, etc.! Keep your presence alive in between projects, and always be open to new ways of getting your name out there, be it through podcasts, a new website with a fresh focus, etc.
What are some challenges you face in PR?
Todd: The biggest challenge is a highly fragmented media landscape. Even if you have a high-profile author who can land a number of high-profile media interviews it doesn’t guarantee sales if the messaging about the book isn’t compelling. The days of an author landing one Today show interview and selling all kinds of books isn’t grounded in reality these days. Gen-X-and-older authors have to realign their thinking on what outlets may sell books. While it may be an ego boost or resume-padder, an interview with David Letterman for a conservative non-fiction author probably isn’t going to sell as many books as a compelling interview with Newsmax or World Net Daily. That can be hard to accept for many authors but it’s today’s reality.
Maggie: It’s a crowded marketplace out there, and a very noisy one. Media personnel often transition rapidly into other positions, so maintaining literally hundreds of relationships with editors, reviewers, hosts and producers is a full-time job.
What gets the media interested in a book?
Andrea: There has to be an interesting hook to grab their attention. They don’t care about the fact that there is a new book out. That sounds harsh, but that’s reality. More than likely it will be the topic and something unique about that topic that will catch their eye.
Maggie: Positive reviews and print and broadcast interviews are a good start, but it also makes a difference when a book’s content is newsworthy or has intrinsic media “hooks.”
If a writer doesn’t have a book contract (yet), what can s/he do to start building a platform? Andrea: Don’t be afraid to self-promote! Start building your social media platform today! Start with a web page, a Facebook page, get a Twitter handle, and start blogging. Keep it current and interesting.
Do you have any other questions about book publicity, doing media interviews, or what publicists do? Leave us a comment and we’ll respond!