A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
1. What really inspired you to write your
book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
The very question of
where novel ideas originate inspired me to write Lies She Told. I think that writers can’t positively pinpoint the
source of their stories. All people have images, scenes, anecdotes,
experiences, and articles that stick with them for some reason. Maybe what
makes an impression has to do with an individual’s childhood or core
personality traits or subconscious musings. Who really knows, though?
What is clear, is that
writers take the things that stick and mash them together to form something
else entirely. The main character in Lies She Told, Liza Cole, is a writer who doesn’t really know what she is
drawing upon to pen her novel. As a result, when her fiction hints at clues to
a disappearance in her real life, she doesn’t understand the reason for all the
parallels. Maybe it’s all coincidence. Maybe she’s being influenced by
struggles in her own life but is completely abstracting them in her work. Maybe
she’s sensing things that she doesn’t consciously accept or understand.
In the book, every
other chapter is the novel that Liza is writing. The reader must determine
Liza’s inspiration for themselves. They have to figure out what is real, what
is abstraction, and what is pure invention. The fun of the puzzle is picking
2. What is it about and whom do you believe is
your targeted reader?
Lies She Told tells
the story of Liza Cole, a suspense writer who has thirty days to write the
thriller that could put her back on the bestseller lists. Her tight deadline is
complicated by fertility treatments and a distracted husband struggling to keep
his firm afloat after the unexplained disappearance of his law partner and
professionally and personally, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine,
Beth—a new mother who suspects her husband of cheating. When Beth’s rival ends
up in the East River and Nick’s body is found in the same body of water, the
lines between fiction and reality really begin to blur. Before her deadline is
up, Liza will have to face up to truths about those closest to her. If she
doesn’t the final page of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.
My target audience is
anyone who enjoys suspense, intriguing puzzles, and nuanced characters.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting
thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long
after putting it down?
I hope that readers
will be left feeling empathy towards all the characters in the book, even the
villains. I’ve tried to create a story in which people are put in difficult
circumstances that make lying appear a better solution than telling the truth.
All my central characters lie at one point or another. But I think I’ve made
their reasons understandable and sympathetic, if not forgivable. And I think
that’s why people will remember them.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have
for fellow writers?
This advice is for
writers who are still working to make a real living off of writing fiction. It
ain’t easy, but write every day. Fiction writing is a job as well as an art. Like
any job, you get better at it by doing it. When I wrote articles for a business
publication, I still penned fiction in the evenings and on weekends. Then,
after I became a mom, I wrote when I put the kids to sleep and during nap
times. Now, I write when they’re in school and also after they go to bed. It’s
hard to juggle a day job and a dream. But if you don’t treat writing like the career
you want it to become, it won’t ever evolve into that.
5. What trends in the book world do you see
and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I think that writers
are asked to do more promotion now, in part because social media enables them
to and also because there is so much content out there that really wonderful
books can get lost in the shuffle if a writer isn’t actively discussing their
work on the web. The promotional requirements are good and bad. The good is
that writers can have some influence over whether or not people know that their
books exist. The bad is that we all have a limited amount of time and very few
writers have the luxury of only concentrating on writing a great novel. Not to
mention that many semi-introverted writers, like myself, struggle with
My guess is that, in
the future, even fewer writers will be able to avoid taking an active role in
promoting their work. It’s part of being an author.
6. What great challenges did you have in
writing your book?
Time is always a
challenge. Like many writers, I was rewriting and editing the book while
working on my next project. The juggling is difficult. That said, I like tight
deadlines. They remind me of my prior life as a journalist and force me to
focus. Who doesn’t do their best work when concentrating only on the task at
7. If people can only buy one book this month,
why should it be yours?
Lies She Told demanded
many sleepless nights, sponge-fulls of sweat, and quite a few tears on my part.
Sleepless nights because I’d spent so much time with the characters that they
wouldn’t let me rest, sweat because of the amount of work it took to create
these characters and this puzzle, and tears because the story warrants them at
points. I created characters that I felt for deeply that will form a bond with
readers. And I put them in a twisty, taught situation. Readers will keep
turning pages because the people are vivid and the puzzle demands thinking.
Plus, it’s entertaining. But don’t take my word for it. Take RT Book Reviews
word for it: “If you can only pick one
psychological thriller to read this fall, it needs to be Holahan’s Lies She
Cate Holahan is the acclaimed
author of Lies She Told (Sept. 2017) The Widower's Wife (August 2016) and Dark
Turns (November 2015), all published by Crooked Lane Books. An award-winning
journalist and former television producer, her articles have appeared in
BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on web sites for CBS, MSN Money,
NorthJersey.com, BusinessWeek.com, and CNBC. She lives in New Jersey with her
husband, two daughters, ages 7 and 5, and dog Westley. For more information,
authors are under the wrong impression about book publicity, so please allow me
to bust the following six myths concerning book PR:
1.My publisher takes
care of book publicity.
for those with a publisher. Only a handful get PR attention from them, and even
then, it’s usually a limited effort in terms of the scope and duration for the
work. To properly seize control of promoting your brand and the book you must supplement
what a publisher does. Obviously in the
case of self-publishing, authors are completely on their own and must do all
that they can to support their work.
2.All I need are some
True, good reviews will be helpful but it
doesn’t end there. You need more than a
handful of nice book reviews to get you on the map. It’s a matter of quality – you may need
dozens of reviews from consumers and 10 or more from the news media and
professional book reviewers to get going.
Then you will need off-the-book page media exposure. In addition to reviewers and the news media, you’ll
need social media to be strong.
Interviews, guest-posts, byline articles, feature stories, and other
media placements can be just as important as reviews.
3.It’s all about
Wrong. Social media is important as part
of the portfolio of what one does to properly promote and market a book and
author brand. Social media should
support your efforts in regards to traditional media (print, TV, radio),
digital media (blogs, podcasts, online reviews, websites), speaking engagements
and webinars, and other marketing strategies.
Don’t ever put all of your eggs in one basket, especially one that has
hundreds of millions of competing voices.
4.I’ll hire someone
to help on PR once I sell some books.
It’ll be too late at that point. You may feel you’re in a Catch-22 position,
where you can’t afford publicity to help your book sell but you won’t get
publicity if you first wait for book sales without properly promoting it. A book has a certain shelf-life and the media
has its own deadlines to work under. You
have to promote your book four to five months prior to launch date and up to three months
post-publication. If you first wait
until you sell books to hire a publicist you severely limit what type of media
he or she can garner for you. Borrow,
steal, and beg so you have funds to pay a publicist during the window of time
that he or she can be useful to you.
5.All of the media
is online now.
A lot of media is online but some of the
biggest media is traditional media:
television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. Do not be fooled into thinking the only thing
out there are blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook. Authors should still kill to be on national
radio shows or featured on the Today Show
or interviewed by USA Today. Traditional media greatly influences other
media and still pushes the news cycle in a significant way. Don’t ignore non-digital media!
6.My book is better
than the competition.
Let’s say such a
bold statement is true. So what? No one knows it’s great unless you do things
to let people know about your book. Everyone needs to do PR, from first-time
authors to best-selling ones, from the self-published to the Big 5 authors,
from poetry and novels, to non-fiction and scholarly works. You can never have enough exposure for a
book. It’s comforting to believe your
book is great but you have to go out there and prove it to be so. Don’t be lazy or overconfident -- circulate and
get the word-of-mouth going. Let third
parties validate your greatness.
are reasons these myths are perpetuated -- ignorance, unawareness, money, or time. Sometimes you hear of one author
who followed one of these myths but still managed to do well. They are the exception – and they would’ve
done better if they didn’t buy into these myths. Don’t be fooled.
new economy that allows people to simply do things on their own.-- rather than hire
someone to do it for them -- is making people feel they can do anything. Who needs a travel agent when you have
Priceline or Hotels.com or Trip Advisor?
Who needs to buy second-hand stuff from a company when you can deal with
a seller directly on eBay? Who needs a
human to do something a robot can do?
Why wait online to check out of the supermarket when you can do
it’s no surprise that some authors mistakenly think they can replace what a
professional book publicist does simply because he or she has access to some
media lists or because social media is free.
The truth is authors can do more on their own than ever before, but more
is also required. A paid, experienced
book publicist will save you time and get great results. Here are the top 14 reasons to use a book
write better press kits and pitches because they know what the media is expecting
media prefers to deal with a book publicist rather than a thousand authors who
are strangers to them.
can media coach you and make sure you appear knowledgeable, likable, and
can analyze your website, social media, and marketing materials, and give you
constructive criticism, strategic tips, and guidance on what to do – or not do.
are connected to the media, making introductions a lot easier for you.
know what some media outlets are working on and can clue you in on stories you
may be appropriate for.
understand how the media works and what they are looking for and how/when to
contact them – they are far more efficient than an author.
have an experienced eye and can speak on your behalf a lot better than most
authors can talk about themselves.
good publicist knows how to find media contacts that aren’t easily found or
think like promoters and always look for fresh angles to sell your book to the
media. Authors know how to write and are
proficient in the area they write in, but book publicity is a distant second for
their skill set.
publicists are well aware of the news cycle, honorary days, anniversaries,
holidays or other tie-ins to your book. They
can pitch you to media that you never thought of approaching, simply because
they see things differently.
12.They express themselves with passion, wit, sincerity, and professionalism. They sound confident without bragging and
present you in a way that allows the media to value your message and
remain ever optimistic and vigilant and don’t worry about rejections or
criticisms. They just keep plowing
through obstacles or setbacks.
publicists can invite you into their network of experts – editors, literary
agents, fellow authors, and others who may prove to be valuable to you.
course, there are many lousy book publicists out there who simply are not worth
even half of what they ask to be paid. Like anything else, evaluate your options,
interview and interrogate them. Look for
good references and samples of solid work, and get a feel for the person you’ll
work with. It’s worth taking a chance, a
book publicist can offer a huge pay-off when all goes well.
A World on the Island’s Edge: Book 1 of the Golden
Matthew Rudd Reynolds is a counselor
out of Portland, Oregon who received his master’s from Multnomah University.
Additionally, he has worked as a youth pastor for the previous 11 years. Today,
Reynolds, a member of the deaf community, provides counseling to patients that
are deaf. For more info,
please see: www.luxthegoldendolphin.com.
1.What really inspired you to write your
book, to force you from taking an idea or
and conveying it into a book? I had always wanted to write a book. That
much was a no-brainer. I had an idea in my head for years and I decided to
finally sit down and write it down. What resulted from that was my including
some experiences from my childhood that I feel helped ground the narrative
more. You have these fantastical ideas and theories but the kids — what they
were going through, their individual struggles — some of those were based on
childhood experiences, such as my grandmother having Alzheimer’s, for example.
Those experiences just poured out naturally as I was writing the book. It
wasn’t planned. Just came together the way it did.
2.What is it about and whom do you believe is your
giving too much away, it is about a girl named Andi who lives with her twin brother
and grandmother on a fictional island in the San Juan Archipelago located in
the northwestern United States. She and her brother Artie have been keeping
their grandmother’s dementia a secret in an effort to keep their family together.
However, it is becoming harder to keep others from finding out. After Andi
discovers a golden dolphin named Lux with supernatural powers, she decides to
keep him from being found out by the world. What follows are a series of
adventures that culminate in their lives being changed forever. Who is my
targeted reader? I would say anyone ages nine and up. I do believe that the
book has crossover appeal and that all ages would enjoy it. Family members can
certainly talk about it with each other! As my son put it, “The book is
different and enjoyable for everyone. It is like watching a childhood movie
when you’re older…when you’re young, you appreciate the fantasy and action
elements more, how colorful it all is. When you’re older, you have a greater understanding
of the story and the emotions behind that.”
3.What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for
readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting
it down? I
think the biggest thing I would want readers to take away from this is not to underestimate
others. Andi and her brother Artie are both underestimated in different ways
and to see how they triumph even against the most overwhelming of odds is, I
think, inspiring. To remain strong even when the stakes are very high. I also
hope that readers see that even though this is a fantasy novel, there is no
‘magic solution’. There is no special thing that makes all the challenges the
characters face all right. The answers come from chasing and fighting for them,
not waiting around for something to happen. Moreover, many of the triumphs that
are won in the book are won through interdependence—working together. Everyone
has something to bring to the table.
Finally, one of the characters—I won’t say who—sees and does things very
differently. Our tendency as a people, I think, is to mock everything outside
of our own experience. I hope this leaves readers with the understanding that
one can’t do that—that everyone is capable of much more than we can possibly
4.What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow
Stephen King and Madeline L’Engle agree on this: just write. I found that to be
very true. While I had an idea in my head, I was more surprised at what came
out in my writing this book than not. Don’t worry about edits until much, much
later. Just fill the page. Writers also should not listen to that little voice
in their heads that say they can’t do it. I believe writers should receive
praise just as heavily as they receive criticism. I think people who are
artists tend to weigh criticism more heavily than positive feedback. Both need
to be weighed equally. Finally, if you think adults won’t understand what
you’re writing about, then write it for children. Children are much less
practical than adults and much smarter than they’re made out to be. They’re
more willing to accept the world you’ve built and more open to ideas that
you’re trying to convey.
5.What trends in the book world do you see and where do
you think the book publishing industry is heading? As this is a
self-published novel, I do have to touch on the rise of the self-publishing industry.
It’s much harder, I think, to “break in” to the mainstream publishing industry
than it was. It was never easy but now it’s almost impossible. I think in
today’s world, self-publishing allows some writers to be discovered that might
not be found otherwise. The rise of the Internet and social media demands that
the author be involved in the promotion of their book. So having a superior
knowledge of how to use both are necessary in increasing the chances of your
book’s success. In fact, it's downright essential.
6.What great challenges did you have in writing your
a book is hard work, but as this was my first time, I didn’t anticipate how hard
it would be on a personal level. Questioning myself, questioning where I was
steering the plot, balancing writing and my family life, balancing writing and
my work life. And of course, there’s always dealing with that little voice in
your head that says what you’re writing is no good, that it isn’t coming out
the way it should be .As difficult as writing the book was, the editing process
proved to be even more difficult. I’m very thankful to my many editors for
their input and ideas, which I think helped me tighten and improve the book.
But it was a difficult process for me, to balance helpful suggestions against
the story I was trying to tell. Those decisions are never easy.
7.If people can only buy one book this month, why should
it be yours? I
think that the situations the characters face are rooted in real-life
situations. The imaginative journey they take through the book, however, is
quite fantastical. I believe the book balances both sides nicely; it is
relatable in its characters and entertaining in its mythology. The book isn’t
defined by one genre or one age group. It’s a story that I’ve wanted to tell for
a long time. I feel that it has a lot of important messages that I think
readers young and old will appreciate. If it can entertain someone and help
them with something they’re going through, that’s an even bigger gift.
Authors want to know
how they can get on television, so I am going to tell you exactly how to do
First, understand the
TV landscape – how it works, what they look for, and how to package yourself in
a timely fashion.
Second, realize that
despite all of the tricks of the trade, connections that you make, and the
greatness of your book, there’s still a very little chance that you’ll make it
beyond local TV. That’s just the reality of the percentages. Too
many authors – and others – are in a Hunger Gamesdeath match to get
on TV. Only a few will survive and thrive.
Let’s start by looking
at television today. The first thing you need to know is that each
station and show is unique and requires a customized pitch. What works
for The View doesn’t get you onFox, MSNBC, or PBS.
Know the politics, demographics, guest history, and ownership of each show before
you pitch it.
what kinds of personality the show wants. Do they want the serious expert or a
talking miniskirt? Are they looking for news, analysis, opinion or
entertainment? Is it interested only in certain subjects? How is the show
slanted and who does it appeal to? Hint: Look at the commercials.
Break down each
network or channel and list all of the different shows. Identify the
producers and bookers for each show. Contact one person from a show
before you contact others from the same show. If you don’t get a yes or a
response, move on to others. You can pitch multiple shows simultaneously.
Shows - think in terms
of scoops and competition. They want exclusives and to be first to air a
story but they mainly compete internally with other shows on their network the
way siblings compete for a parent's affection, and they compete with those in
their time slot on other networks. Give them something they fear others
Your pitch needs to be
short, headline-centric, filled with bullet points and links to a video.
They want a visual to support the story. They also want to see what you
look and sound like.
TV wants a validated,
credible voice on camera. Make sure you have the right credentials and
any third-party supporters – testimonials, links to other media, awards, etc.
They want to see you are on TV before.
Give urgency to your
pitch. Answer this: Why you – and why now? They need to see
you are a hot property and someone they need to work with. Highlight your
social media numbers if they are solid.
The general pecking
order of things is authors need to get some exposure on local TV or with
digital television (video on a leading site) before they can get the call up to
the Big Leagues of national television.
Can you clearly,
emphatically, and passionately convince a TV producer why he or she should give
you a shot? Can you speak with conviction and confidence? Will you
give them a positive and secure feeling about your on-camera presence and style?
TV doesn’t like to take chances. It’s risk-averse. It wants
formulaic tried and true. Attractive people, cute dogs, celebrities, and
odd stories still own the airwaves. TV is just Facebook these days.
The fastest way to
television is to have something newsworthy to say on a timely topic being
debated in the current news cycle. But most authors don’t have such hard
news to reveal. So you have to be creative and think like the producer
you are appealing to. Feed their concerns with something that gets them
to turn a no to a yes.
Your first place to audition is on YouTube. Build up a strong following
that a TV show would kill for. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the one
interviewing the media on your podcast. You have potentially as much power
as the media.
That’s right, the way
to get on TV is to embrace a can-do attitude and then to showcase your talents
online. Go for it!