- Book Reviews are Not So Important Though book reviews can be effective, they are not always the best way to go. Broad coverage in other parts of the paper – not on the book page – is something worth shooting for. Book reviews are simply much harder to come by these days, given the limited amount of book review space and their biases against self-published authors or small publishers. Op-eds and by-line pieces are a good way to get exposure as well. Coverage off the book page will get a bigger readership. For instance, say you have a diet book. Getting into the health section of your paper is more targeted than being lost in the book section.
- 15 Seconds of Fame Be prepared to summarize the highlights of your book in 15 seconds. That’s how long you have to convince someone your book is worth looking at. Whether it’s a consumer, a member of the media, a bookstore manager, or an organization that you want to speak before, be concise. You need a sentence or two to summarize your credentials for writing the book, and then 3 bullet points of what’s in the book and why people should care. Blabbering on won’t sell it – just being concise, creative, and timely will. YOUR 80,000 WORD BOOK NEEDS TO BE A 15-SECOND SOUND BITE. Writing a 250-page book is not as hard as reducing all of that to a 15-second sound bite, but that’s exactly what you need to do when promoting and marketing your book. When you meet a stranger or even when you want to explain to a friend what your book is about, you need to do it in a quick and interesting way so that by the end of your description they will want to buy it or ask more questions.
- Timing is Important One key to promoting yourself is doing it with a sense of timing. If you want to be featured in a magazine, you have to send a galley of your book to them 3-4 months in advance of the official book’s publication. If you want to visit a city and contact local media, it helps to call them about 4 weeks ahead of your arrival. Once a book has been out for 3-4 months it is deemed “old” by most media.
- Money is Not the Sole Deciding Factor When choosing a publicity firm don’t let costs by the deciding factor. Sure, have a budget in mind – or some sense of a rate of return on your investment – but you should consider the key factors: what is being promised vs. guaranteed; length of campaign; has the firm promoted many authors in your genre; is it a one-person shop or a larger firm with more resources and media contacts?
- Know Who is Working on Your Campaign The person who is doing your outreach is very important. Find out who will actually be conducting your campaign. It usually is NOT the person who is trying to bring you in as a client, nor should it be. A good client manager will stay involved, but the day-to-day media booking is reserved for experienced specialists.
- Get Good Counseling Part of selecting a publicist means finding a knowledgeable advisor, someone who not only generates media exposure for you but who also can coach you for the news media. He or she should also provide valuable guidance and advice on all things pertaining to marketing and promoting your book, taking both a short-term and long-term approach.
- Familiarity with Books in Your Field When interviewing a potential publicist for your book ask if they have represented books like yours and if you can see some of the placements they got. Ask for references.
- Study the Media If you have no media experience, watch and listen to interview programs and critically examine what good interviewees do and how they get across their message. You will want to balance your publicity efforts – the goal is to get exposure in all media: radio, print, television, and the Internet. First secure local coverage and then spread out to national media.
Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) and blogs daily at http://www.bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.
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