Friday, November 11, 2011

Know The Book PR Rules

There are certain unwritten rules that apply to book publishing and the news media. Will they ever change?  Will everyone honor these rules and stop fighting them?  I don’t write the rules but there’s little reason to go against them. Here are some of them:

  1. Advance review copies to long-lead publications (magazines, book reviewers) must be sent at least three months prior to a book’s publication or it has virtually zero chance of being reviewed.

  1. Don’t expect the news media to return your phone call unless you offer something really amazing – celebrity, best-selling book, a story related directly to what’s in the news.

  1. If someone doesn’t respond to your e-mail pitch, don’t resend the same exact pitch to them again.

  1. Just because a producer or editor said they’d take a look at your book doesn’t mean they’ll actually do anything with it.

  1. Don’t expect the media to actually read your book, even if they are interviewing you about it.

  1. If a competing book/author was just written about in a magazine or newspaper don’t assume they will write about you because your book is better.  In fact, they’re less likely to cover the same topic so quickly.

  1. A reporter can interview you for 30 or more minutes and not mention you or your book in the story.  Don’t assume every interaction with the media will yield coverage.

  1. Social media adds to the process of book promotions, but don’t be misled to think all you need to do is blog, tweet, and update Facebook and suddenly you’ll be a best-seller.

  1. Great books don’t always sell well; great marketing does.

  1. You need to have a Website, a Facebook page, a blog, and a Twitter account.  They work together, along with other forms of publicity, in marketing, and advertising.  To lack any of these pieces, beginning months before the book is out, is to contribute to failure.

  1. Don’t publish a book without some testimonials. No one cares what they say – just who said them.  Testimonials alone rarely lead to a book sale but their absence speaks loudly.

  1. Don’t take “No” for an answer from the media. Keep trying until you get a “Yes!”  You will get far more no’s than yesses, but you only need a handful of yeses to boost your book.

  1. Have a 15-second elevator speech prepared so you can discuss your book anywhere, anytime.  You only get about 15 seconds to make an impression on a journalist or producer. Practice it and try it out on friends and family.

This last rule is key: Have fun. Enjoy promoting and marketing your book as much as you did writing it. You are bound to spend just as much time on marketing and promoting, as you did writing – so accept it, embrace it, own it!

Interview With Courtney Ford, Content Licensing Manager, Books24x7 / SkillSoft
1.      What does a content licensing manager do? As content licensing manager, I am responsible for licensing the non-exclusive digital rights to full-text titles on a variety of professional and technical topics in the English, French, German, and Spanish languages which are sold in topically oriented collections by subscription to corporations as part of their learning and training. In addition, I also license audio rights to select business titles. I maintain partnerships with over three-hundred current publisher partners as well as recruit new content providers to license us their books for our online program.

2.      How should publishers and authors think differently about their content and licensing it? From what I’ve learned over the past six years as content licensing manager, publishers and authors, alike, should be flexible about where to license their content because the reach that publishers have to bookstores and even online is not the same as where the reach and exposure will come by partnering with a company who caters to a specific niche audience. Authors are always the advocates for their books with the publisher being an extension of that support, or they should be, so the publisher should seek out as many opportunities on behalf of the author as possible. If they are not, then the author’s voice should be heard above all else as they are the best champion for their own content.

3.      You used to be an editor with Adams Media. what did you enjoy most about editing books? I was an assistant and eventual project manager in the editorial group. I enjoyed interacting with hungry authors who sought to create the best books possible. Receiving the galleys and seeing the fruits of our labor is a pretty great feeling.

4.      What do you like about being part of the book publishing industry? I enjoy how books continue to entertain and teach readers, no matter what the device: printed paperback or e-reader.

5.      Where do you think it is heading? I think more and more people are going to migrate to the digital way of ingesting content—whether it be via a Web site or via a download on an e-reading device. This will change (and already has) the future of the printed book, but I think it has to be embraced in order for publishing to grow and evolve. I don’t think books will go away, just the definition of what we think of when we hear the word “book”. Reading will always be something people will do. It’s just up to the publishing industry on how to keep it thriving, no matter what the present technologies are.

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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