Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How To Get Killer PR!

One look at the headlines making the news and you would see the best way to make the news is to, unfortunately, commit a crime. So how do you compete with that --as well as all the ink given to celebrities, the weather, sports, terrorism, and the latest movie?

The first way to get media coverage is to tie your book’s message to the things that are making news. Can you comment on the latest court case? Well if you’re an expert on parenting, celebrities, law, social services, or child abuse, you can get media coverage talking about some aspect of the case against Michael Jackson’s doc -- even if your book never discusses the case.

The second way is to anticipate the news. Check your calendar and look to see what holidays are coming up. Memorial Day means war, security, international relations, death, history, etc. Father’s Day means dads, grandfathers, parenting, family, etc. Can you speak on those topics? How about the seasons? Summer means stories about travel, camp, droughts, picnics, West Nile, baseball, etc. Think of how your message ties into a holiday, a season, or an honorary day, week or month (i.e.: February is Black History Month, March is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and April is National Autism Month).

The third way is to actually make news with the results of your research, surveys, interviews with important people in your book, or the uncovering of hidden facts. Even if your book lacks original earth-shattering news, perhaps you can create a poll of say 500 people on your subject and then report those results.

The fourth way is to give out news we can use. If you can shed light on the newest treatments for a disease or effective parenting strategies or tell us the three smartest ways to save for retirement, people will listen.

Lastly, raise an issue or ask a question. For instance, declare something interesting or controversial. Should pets be allowed to sue for health care? Should we eliminate the presidency and instead have three co-presidents? Should there be a legal limit on how much someone can weigh? Should people who have cosmetic surgery be forced to disclose this to the people they date?

So, there are many legitimate ways to make the news for honest people like you. -- or, just simply commit a crime and I guarantee that you’ll be on the evening news.  And then you might go to jail. And then you can write a book – and promote it.

Interview With Joyce Holland, Associate Agent, D4EO Literary Agency

  1. Joyce, what do you love about being in the book publishing industry? I really do wake up in the morning hoping today will be the day I discover the greatest writer to come along in a decade. Let’s face it, someone is going to receive that stunning manuscript, why not me? Every now and then a new writer arrives on the scene and leaves an indelible mark on audiences. I remember the first Greg Iles book I picked up, I knew instantly a new story teller had arrived and I couldn’t wait for his next book, and his next...and his next. I want to find someone like Iles, someone who can give readers goose-bumps, make them laugh, make them cry, and still hunger for more.

  1. Where do you see it heading? I think epublishing is the future. Print books will never die, but they will continue to decline faster and faster as the technology improves, and I’m all for it. The problem I see is in the abundance of material out there, most of it self published.  At the risk of having eggs thrown at me, most self published books aren’t worth the paper they weren’t printed on. If I’m going to throw money at the Internet, I want to know I’m getting a quality product, one that someone (besides the author’s mother) has read and said, 'hey, this is good, I’m going to take a chance and put this out there.’  That judgment call takes experience, and that’s what agents and editors bring to the business. I think discerning readers will eventually opt for the publishing houses they already rely on to select quality material for them. In the future, agents will be encouraging their clients to consider epublishing with trusted houses. Many of the major houses have already opened ebook lines in anticipation of the new trend. Look to them. It will take a while but it will sort itself out. Just as a few self-published books have been successes, a few one man presses may prove successful, but they will be the exception. Quality rules. By the way, there are already some successful ebook publishers out there that are discerning in what they choose to publish, MuseItUp and Samhain are examples.  This is where I fess up and tell you--I’ve researched both companies and have decided to submit my own work to them.

  1. What do you look for when deciding whether to represent an author and his or her book? The first few pages of a novel are the most important, but no matter how often editors and agents emphasize that rule, few listen. Grab the reader and make them care. Make something happen. Set the pace and define the stakes. And you have to do all that in the first chapter. This is going to sound strange but what I do next is to count the number of times an author uses the word “was” in that first chapter. I actually use the search function to find out.  Using passive verbs is indicative of poor writing in general. If I see more than five on a page, I’m probably going to dump it.

  1. What guidance can you offer to writers struggling to get published? I say this at every conference, and I wish I could credit the author. It’s something I read in a writers’ magazine many years ago, and it goes like this: If you can’t keep your kitty litter lined with rejection slips, you aren’t sending stuff out enough.  
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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