More Expert Tips from PR Pros: Navigating Book Promotion Part 2
Thank you to the many book promotion professionals who shared tips for aspiring authors with me! In Part One, read about treating your book launch like a campaign with consistent social media and a newsletter.
Lisa Niver and Patricia Schultz speaking at the Travel and Adventure Show
Kathleen Schmidt told me to write down clear goals for my book. Schmidt said, “When I have an initial call with potential clients, I ask them what their goals are. If you are an author, having realistic goals is healthy. Goals like “get on the New York Times bestseller list” or “get my book picked for Reese’s Book Club” are pie-in-the-sky and not easily attainable. Start with small, achievable goals like getting a bylined piece you wrote published, so you gain name recognition.” I agree that setting expectations can really help. When I started my YouTube channel, I was happy with every small win. I celebrated when I reached 100 views and then 1000 views and now I have nearly two million views on my videos! It is important to recognize our accomplishments. I am excited that I have a book and cannot wait for my upcoming launch!
BE A GREAT GUEST
Stand out in today’s noisy world as a guest on a podcast. Liz H Kelly recommends that authors focus on a targeted podcast campaign to reach readers. Kelly told me that “one of the best things is to invest time in a podcast campaign to reach your niche audience. Start at least 3 months in advance of your book launch, search for top podcasts and pitch the hosts with a personalized email. Find podcasts that have a similar audience as your book, and actually listen to an episode before pitching. After an interview is secured, ask the host if they can publish it close to your book launch date, so you have a burst of PR to promote sales.” I love being a guest on podcasts and I even started my own podcast called Make Your Own Map in December 2022. So far people are listening from 36 countries on 6 continents.
MAKE YOUR OWN MAGIC
Joseph Pastrana practices what he preaches and tells authors to “start contacting organizations, book stores, anything relatable to the subject of your book about an appearance, reading, book signing. I have been hosted by different types of organizations including a menswear shop. It’s always important to go out and try. Once you book an event, you can parlay that to more coverage by reading out to media that cover appearances.” Joseph said, “hire a professional that knows the “who” and “how” and even “when” to reach the appropriate media to help with publicity for the book.
Laurie Graff agrees that there is nothing like an in-person event to engage a reader with you and your brand. While an author can arrange their own event or signing at a local bookstore or thematically related venue. Graff wants authors to ask themselves, “Who will relentlessly promote the event? Who will take photo-ops of the author with their strategically placed book and send it out to local media? A publicist can elevate the author from writer to expert, to make them a newsworthy interview across all platforms.”
Desiree Duffy, Founder of Black Château, Books That Make You and The BookFest told me that “speaking at events has evolved into an array of opportunities for authors. Virtual events give us a platform as well as real life events. Plus, there are many hybrid options with live events offering livestreaming and recordings to those who can’t attend in person. This means authors have more options than ever before to reach a wider audience. The BookFest, for example, reaches people from all over the world with impressions in the millions. One could never pack that many folks into a room at an in real life conference. Yet, the networking and ability to connect with others in person can never be totally replaced. I recommend authors to do both types of events if possible. And when it comes to speaking, being able to deliver an array of topics and types of talks is valuable. You never know what an event producer might be looking for, so you should be prepared to offer an array of options. Consider homing your speaking skills when it comes to doing readings, speaking on panels, offering workshops or demonstrations, participating in conversations or interviews, and delivering keynote addresses.” In fact, I will be a featured author at The BookFest on Saturday Oct 21! I had reached out to Desiree to learn more about her project and asked to be considered!
I agree with Desiree that “speaking at events helps authors elevate their areas of expertise. It can have a big impact on their business and personal brand. When an author speaks, they are seen not only by readers, but other event producers, media and press, potential collaborators, and even film and TV production companies, directors and producers. One of our first BookFests led to a participating author getting a film deal for his book series. By putting yourself out there, wonderful things can happen.” Now cross your fingers for me about what will happen when I speak at BookFest this year!
If you are still wondering about if you need a professional, Justin Loeber CEO of Mouth Digital + Public Relations explains, “Just like a real estate broker is the go-between the buyer and seller, the publicist brokers media. And if you could call Oprah on a Monday and book an interview on a Tuesday, there would be no industry called PR.”
DO THE WORK
Christine Chitnis’ “number one tip for authors is to plan to invest as much time and effort into the marketing and publicity of their book as they did into writing their book.” I agree with her that “the workload involved with the publicity push often comes as a surprise to authors, as they expect their publisher to do the heavy lifting. However, a successful campaign depends greatly on the author’s efforts and the leveraging of their personal network. A good campaign needs a broad and deep approach.”
Chitnis recommends “pursuing a multi-prong approach that includes: social media, print, TV, radio and digital press, podcasts, events, brand partnerships, speaking gigs, and more!” If you feel exhausted just hearing that list, she told me, “that’s why you might consider hiring a professional; to help with the planning, organization, communication and outreach necessary to pull off a broad, deep publicity campaign which will not only sell books but also broaden their client’s overall brand awareness. A professional will also have their own network to leverage, and that can only help!”
Invest in your success by spending time online. Andrea McKinnon told me that “one of the benefits of the Internet is the limitless, really infinite, wealth of knowledge and resources. It may take some effort but one can really hone in on websites, outlets, podcasts, writers whose “beat” covers the genre, themes or topic of your book. Steampunk? Cookbook? Self-help? Poetry? no matter the subject, there is a community writing and talking about it! The vast majority of publications & outlets have information on how to contact them – just follow their rules & suggestions!”
DO NOT WAIT
Start promoting your book EARLY! Janet Appel explained that many reviewers have a lead time of four to six months especially the trade reviewers like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and most print magazines.
Appel believes that authors need to be on the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as well as the media sharing networks like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube AND the discussion forums like Reddit, Digg and Hive. I am on all of the social and media sharing networks I can think of but Appel was the first one to recommend the discussion forums to me. She recommended using all of your platforms to “amplify the visibility and awareness of a brand, book, individual” as well as working with a seasoned professional to take advantage of all opportunities.
HOW DO I GET SALES?
Every author wants to sell more books. Appel told me that in order to drive book sales, you must target the right audience for your book. “It’s really a combination of book signings, obtaining book reviews, media coverage in magazines and newspapers, TV appearances, radio and podcast interviews, digital outlets, relevant websites, blogs, Amazon reviews, blogger reviews, virtual book tours, a powerful book trailer on the author’s website, social media, consistent speaking engagements to target audiences, live videos on Facebook, blog posts to your website and LinkedIn, SEO ranking (i.e., using keywords that your target audience will likely search for) and making sure that the book can be preordered. These are some of the key factors that will drive book sales!” I am working on many of these and I will keep you posted how that turns out for my book, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty. You can check out my progress and make sure that I update my events page for my book launch!