Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Marketing Tip From A Convict

“Dad, you look like you got out of jail.”

Those were the words I wasn’t expecting to hear out of my six-year-old son, unsolicited, just days away from Father’s Day.

He made me laugh. It’s funny to see someone, unfiltered, just speak his mind and blurt out whatever thought races to the surface.  Maybe he’s right.

I had just gotten a haircut. Ok, more of a scalping.  It was a buzz-cut, where the barber uses his electric clippers to mow down any hair longer than a quarter-inch.  I looked a little like a skinhead.  All that was missing was a scar on my cheek and a tattoo on my arm.

I am not sure what my son knows of jail or the people who are sentenced there but somehow he concluded from his limited life exposures and experiences that I fit the profile of a convict. If you didn’t know what a softie I was on the inside you may judge my exterior, complete with a goatee, as a tough guy. My bulldog is the same way.  She looks like a junkyard dog who appears to be threatening with her snaggle-toothed glare, but in reality, she’s as rough and tough as a stuffed animal. She’d probably lick an intruder and sellout to the first snack tossed her way.

Looks can be deceiving.

We know to never judge a book by its cover and yet isn’t that what we do every day?  We judge how people look – their face, their body, their age, their clothes, their appearance.  We make snap judgments and never look back.  And when it comes to books, many of us are drawn to cover images and visuals.  No matter how good the content of a book or one’s character is, be sure to still make the best visual impression possible.

Otherwise, even those closest to you might just think you escaped from jail.

I’m An Author…Now What?

Writing a book can be fun and exciting, especially when you write about something you have a passion for.  It can also be a labor of love.  But whatever you think and feel about your writing experience know this:  The real work begins after your book is written and published.

To ensure your book -- your baby -- has a shelf-life longer than lettuce – you need to market and promote your book.  No exceptions. Whatever genre you write in, no matter how well-written your book is, and no matter how beautifully packaged and smartly priced it is you need to keep telling others about your book.

Certainly there are many things you can do to give your book exposure to potential readers – book store signings, public appearances, social media networking, cashing in favors from friends, family, and colleagues, etc.  But a key component to increasing your book sales and to establishing your brand as a writer and expert rests with garnering publicity.  To schedule interviews with radio and television shows, and to generate articles and reviews in print and online, most authors would greatly benefit from utilizing a professional publicity firm that specializes in promoting books and authors to the news media.

Contacting the media can be time-consuming and intimidating.  Whom do you contact?  When do you contact them?  What is the best way to reach them?  What should you tell or give to the media?  These are key questions that a publicist is proficient in answering.

Your time is best spent writing and doing the things that are in your control and that are commensurate with your abilities. Publicity is not easy to come by nor is it a cheap pursuit.  But it is worth a lot when it can do a number of things for you, such as:

·         Increase book sales and Web site traffic
·         Raise your media profile
·         Get your positive message to a targeted demographic
·         Establish you as an expert or leader in your field
·         Help you package yourself in the best possible light
·         Legitimize you in a way that helps you get speaking engagements

Blogging alone won’t do this.  Buying a media list and blindly sending a press release won’t do this.  Expecting your book to find its readers without promoting it won’t do this, either.

Publicists have access to the media that comes from experience.  They understand how the media thinks and how to communicate with journalists and producers.  They can media train you, write your press kit, and act as a valuable sounding board and partner to you.  Keep writing and always promote!

***You can reach Brian Feinblum at brianfeinblum@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @thePRexpert.

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