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.
writers have a book accepted for publication by a publisher they feel
excitement, relief, and anxiety.They
are happy to know their book will be published, relieved that the search for a
home is over, and anxious because now they have to actually write the
book.But what authors really need to do
once their book is scheduled for publication is ask to speak to their
publisher’s publicity department to ascertain exactly what the publisher plans
to do – and not do.
authors – yes, the majority – receive little or no promotional support from
their publishers.This is a known,
accepted practice that has gone on for decades and has deteriorated further in
the last few years.It’s not that book
publishers don’t want their books to succeed, they just don’t want to bare the
burden of making it successful.
expect authors to promote their books.They will, on occasion, get involved in the publicity for their bigger
books or books they feel warrant their resources.Some publishers release hundreds, if not
thousands of books each season.They are
short-staffed and have an under-budgeted public relations department. Even when
they land support for books, it’s usually in a limited, short-term way.
some publishers are better than others, and some authors do get help from their
publishers, so it’s not like all authors are left blowing in the wind.But authors should understand that whatever
support most publishers give, if any, is not enough to accomplish what most
need publicity that will:
them as experts.
a positive message out to their targeted readership.
them for awards.
their author profile to land a new book deal.
them get more website traffic.
them to sell backlist or related products and services.
them get more speaking gigs, including paid ones.
them as writers.
most publicity generated by the publisher usually focuses on the publisher’s
sole need:to sell books.True, authors and publishers share in that
common goal, but for the publisher, it’s their only mission, whereas authors
have many other needs.
will likely need a book publicist to be hired to represent their needs, someone
whom, at the very least, will supplement what the publisher does, or more likely,
do what a publisher should be doing. So
how do you know what a publisher will do for you and what should you ask them
inquire early on in the process about what the publisher will do to support
your book.If possible, have your
literary agent put it into your contract.Be specific. How many review
copies will you get for free?How many
will they send to media?Which
media?Will they have galleys available
at least four months prior to publication?When will they draft a press release and will you have input or
get a marketing plan from the publisher. What will they do and when?Get a detailed timeline – don’t accept
vagueness.They will miss deadlines at
times but at least let them commit to something.
what’s their approach when it comes to road tours, setting up book signings and
appearances, providing help with your website, creating promotional materials such as
postcards and flyers, and having a budget for ads in trade pubs or digital ads?
where do they see the market for your book and how will they reach those in
will they assist in getting testimonials for your book, or to have someone
write a foreword, introduction, or preface?
will they set you up on things like Goodreads or NetGalley?
aside from doing some type of book mailing to the media, will they follow up
with calls and emails?
what will they do in regards to social media, specifically Twitter, Facebook,
YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram?
do they have information, resources, or advice on what you can do to promote
will they media coach you?
sooner you have detailed answers and a specific plan, the better position you’ll
be in to determine what else you’ll need to do to ensure your book and brand
are getting the attention and support they deserve and need.
may want to look to hiring your own book publicist to guide you through the
maze.It’s worth utilizing a
professional when you have a lot riding on the successful launch of your
book.But before you hire someone, find
out what your publisher is really going to do for you.
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Which pros - -not prose -- will you need to succeed this
laugh at how often my son seems to get his name in the news, but I’m proud to
say he’s a natural go-getter when it comes to the news media. Perhaps authors can learn from his media
just turned 13 but he first appeared in the news when he was around 4 and was interviewed by the Journal News, the
newspaper in Westchester, discussing a sandwich brigade for the needy at his temple’s daycare
center. Following that he was
interviewed by a local news site, Sound of
the Shore, about a bicycle donation program with the town’s mayor, CBS-TV News (about a
boat show, at age 8), and News-12
Westchester TV segment about a Monopoly tournament he had arranged at his
elementary school. This past week he
made it onto ABC-TV News with iconic
weatherman Jim Dolan, discussing how he’s been impacted by two Nor’easters that
left us without power for eight days.
so this piece is not to brag about him, but to learn from him.
to get media coverage, seek it out. He
doesn’t wait for the media to come to him, he goes after it. Sometimes it’s being at the right place at
the right time. He gravitates to the news cameras. Other times, such as with his Monopoly
tournament, he had to call and email the media and when no one showed, he put
together video clips and sent it in and the TV station was able to use it. With budget cutbacks to media outlets, they
welcome content packaged to them, especially anything involving kids.
speak in good sound bytes. This means
say a lot in five to eight seconds – no rambling, pausing, or mumbling. Speak
with conviction, energy, eye contact, and with insight. He was so good with Jim Dolan that I got left
on the cutting room floor when our piece aired a second and third time.
think like the media. What do they want? Emotion, pain, suffering. They also will take
euphoria and wild joy. But
middle-of-the-road or mere ordinary quotes won’t move the needle. You need to be assertive, creative,
energized, and prepared to encapsulate something in a short statement.
have a feel for what others might be saying to the media and find a way for
your words to stick out or sound different.
Anticipate, react, and speak up.
media coverage is luck or just the result of the media’s needs, desires,
convenience, time, and other factors.
But my son proves that anyone can find the media and get themselves some
exposure. He’s been doing it for a while
now. But I also know it’s not so easy
and people who do it for a living – publicists, authors, and others – can
struggle to get media coverage. When you find yourself struggling to get
someone to cover you or your book, just embrace your inner Ben and don’t take
no for an answer. Have the mindset
of: “They should cover me.” I know he thinks that way.
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Which pros - -not prose -- will you need
to succeed this year?
what inspired you to write your latest book?
wrote a short story “Pia’s Poem” and the character, a mysterious young woman
never left me alone. She had a much more complex and longer story to tell me
than the one I had fit into a short tale. When I obeyed her plea one early
morning and sat at my desk ready to hear what she had to say, she started to
narrate a story I knew from a long time ago. She was just a catalyst for my
memory to take me down the path of the history of two powerful families - three
generations back, to their uprising, their political influence and might,
numerous misdeeds and their inevitable fall, through their journey of peace and
war, love and hate, bitter revenge and ultimately - loss.
do you hope the reader will be left with after consuming it?
reader will be left with deep thoughts about their own choices, their own
existence and the awareness that every choice has its own consequences that can
shape lives. I want the reader to think about the importance of ideas and what
they’re worth, on a social conscience level and on their own personal and
spiritual level. The reader will be confronted with questions about one’s
nationality – is that pride and feeling of belonging yet another way of
manipulating emotions and minds for someone else’s interests and gains?
challenges did you overcome to pen it?
greatest challenge was the thought that I might be called out as someone who
dared to portray the truth about the war in ex-Yugoslavia in a very different
way. In my view it was portrayed in a fairly balanced and objective way, as I
am a writer who writes without mixing my own emotions in the story or taking
sides. I am a passive but honest observer and interpreter of a period of time
which I witnessed myself. It wasn’t distant history that I learned only from
history books, but it was something that I had witnessed. Though it is not a tale
of war, there are chapters where my character went to war with prejudices. His
awakening was a bitter pill that he had to swallow, as many did!
challenge for me is writing in English, as I am not a native English speaker. I
love English and the challenge to express myself in a different language.
do you love about writing books?
I have been writing books for the past 30 years and so far, I have published 8
novels and just finished my second book of short stories. I write in two
languages and I do translate my own work. I love the feeling of creating
stories, someone’s life and destiny, I love that creative process when I am in
control of every word and comma, yet I love that helpless feeling when I
understand that the character has decided to disobey and show their own will,
takes that control out of my hand and leads me through unknown avenues. I love
that wonderment – Where are we going and what’s next? I love and hate that
anticipation and anxiety when the book comes out – How is it going to be
received? I love everything about writing books!
advice for struggling authors?
A writer needs sound knowledge of the topic they are writing about, hence
good research is needed, talent, daily practice of their art and lots of
discipline. If you put all those ingredients together, you still need a good
portion of luck. Well-established writers follow their own pattern and
associations, while new, aspiring writers, probably need some advice. It isn’t
easy to give advice to anyone – as there are so many aspiring writers who
consider writing to be an easy task, but it isn’t, really. Especially when it
comes to something ‘deep and meaningful’, one has to be in tune with one’s own
being, well read, well informed and equipped with all sorts of worldly experiences
not to mention great imagination. If someone really aches to be a writer, then
one must count on many rejections, which means developing a strong, steady
character, and not taking everything too personally.
For the novice: weigh it, then put your heart where you think it yearns to be
and sharpen your tools; we are always delighted when a new, well-written story
or writer dawns.
trends do you see in your genre?
never really know how to answer a question in regard to my genre. I don’t
really think I stick to any type of genre to be honest. I think the more writing
and literature progress, we see a blurring of genres, and we lose more of the
rigid structures of genre. I think my own writing has some very similar themes
as the undercurrent throughout my books, but I can’t really say what trends are
people buy only one book this spring, why should it be yours?
has everything in it: it is a historical novel covering some episodes of WWII
and some episodes of the recent civil war in ex-Yugoslavia; there is an unusual
love story with an absolutely uncertain journey; there is lots of mystery as
well in the book as the protagonists are dispersed all over the world in search
of a ‘better life’ or just because of pure adventure. The characters are varied
and situated in different parts of the world, from the shores of the Adriatic
to London, Sydney and Japan; they clash, mingle, love and hate one another as
they all struggle in their search for their place in a world that seems so
broken. Naturally, not everything is quite so bleak, but it is a fast-paced
novel with many twists and turns, and with moments that make you cry and laugh
study published in The New York Times
(March 9) about how fake news spreads a lot faster and wider than real news
shows one clear thing: The more
sensational, unbelievable, controversial, or outrageous something sounds, the
more willing people are to retweet and post it on Facebook. This is a lesson
for authors promoting their books.
how can you capitalize on this?
Simple:Create news about you and your book in the
style of fake news.
how does one do that?
popular topics, such as things relating to news of the day, politics, money,
celebrities, sex, parenting, etc.
a catchy headline that makes a statement sound questionable yet
urgency and importance – that something great or bad can happen if some action
is – or isn’t – taken.
a powerful visual to lure people in.
up a good vs. evil story line.Speak in
a question where the potential answer sounds explosive, unreal, or wildly
unlikely yet tantalizingly possible.
news is not carefully crafted news that sounds real but isn’t.It is more typically a story that sounds like
it can’t be real yet elements of it lure us in and fool some people.The lines between fake and real news are
please note I’m not encouraging you to craft fake news.I’m saying you should leverage what’s true
and present it the way fakers do, because their style attracts more
attention.Interestingly, fake news
styled itself after real news, so in the end you are imitating fake news that
imitates real news!
news has spread, in large part, due to Donald Trump.He lies, passes theory as fact,
opinion as reality, and criticizes legit news services to the point a certain
part of the population believes in made-up news or doesn’t know enough to doubt or refute
the faux news.
news is boring and doesn’t get passed around via social media the way salacious
fake news is shared like a wildfire.Make your story sound unbelievable, but have the facts to back it
up.Be outrageous, but be accurate.
Anyone can lie, cheat, steal, or say bullshit to get ahead, but you can learn from
what they do, apply it to the truth, and come out on top of the book publicity
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pros - -not prose -- will you need to succeed this year?
feel bad for authors who tell me they can’t afford to pay for help on book
publicity.I also feel bad that I can’t
win a new client.They need PR help and
I have resources and a team that can help them, but it’s hard to get around the
bottom-line barriers.So what’s to be
done about it?
I think authors should realize three things:
book, if it is worth publishing, is worth promoting.It won’t go far without publicity, but having
publicity doesn’t happen unless you have money, do it yourself, or luck out and
have a very active publisher.
you don’t get PR for your book, it is likely going to struggle with sales.Further, your branding will be limited.Lastly, your message won’t be heard by many.
have to rethink what’s a realistic budget for a book.It’s not $500 or $1000.One has to be ready to spend at least $5,000
and maybe 10 to $15,000.Some PR campaigns,
depending on their depth and duration can even range from $30,000 to $50,000.
authors need to understand why PR campaigns cost more than a few hundred
bucks.The campaign, if done well, is
handled by seasoned pros who know books, media, and your genre.They deliver media that’s worth, as an
advertising equivalent, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.The publicity can be invaluable to the
author/expert when the writer has something on the line. As an author, good PR can help you:
your current book.
your related products.
your professional services.
paid speaking opportunities.
in position to get a book deal from a publisher.
the foreign rights, film rights, audio rights, licensing deals, etc.
the world and influence others with a positive message.
your brand as a thought leader, expert, or media personality.
should authors rob a bank, mortgage their home, or go without paying utilities
bills to fund a PR campaign?Absolutely
not, but they should come up with a reasonable plan to stretch their finances
in order to give their book a real shot.Otherwise, the time and money invested to write and produce a book are
can seek investors, partners, sponsors.They can borrow some money and spend it wisely.They can sacrifice on others items – downsize
vacations or postpone some other big but optional expense.If authors can earn money beyond book sales –
such as consulting fees, paid speaking gigs, or other products to sell – the PR
will pay for itself with a faster recovery time. Think of a budget – it can’t be zero – and
try to save your book.
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Which pros - -not prose
-- will you need to succeed this year?