Wednesday, July 13, 2016

10 PR Tips For Novelists At Thrillerfest

Would you like to spend time chatting with mega-bestselling authors such as Heather Graham, John Lescroat, C.J. Box, Walter Mosley or Gillian Flynn?  That’s exactly what attendees of Thrillerfest XI got to do this past weekend in New York City’s Grand Hyatt.

I have been promoting and marketing authors since 1989. The company I work ( www.Media-Connect.comfor has promoted some great thriller writers – Lee Child, Dean Koontz, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, Joseph Finder, and Janet Evanovich to name a few. 

Thrillerfest is a terrific gathering of nearly one thousands authors, publishing professionals, news media, and would-be published writers.  Kimberly Howe, the executive director, organized a great show.  If you want to see the kind of programming and opportunities that are offered to thriller writers just consult: and

Of all the writer and book publishing conferences I’ve been to over the years, Thrillerfest really stands out as the best one.  There’s a good sized group here, a mix of some high-caliber people, who give off a genuine positive energy that permeates throughout. The conference is large, made up of authors and publishing professionals networking, advising, and supporting each other.

Some of the scores of panels offered included:
·        Discover Indie Publishing From A to Z
·        The Art of the Thriller
·        8 Secrets to Creating a Bestselling Thriller
·        Secondbookitis:  Writer’s Block or Fearless Prose? 

Many workshops creatively got to the heart of practicing one’s craft, such as these:
·        Murder, kidnaping or robbery:  Spicing up your crime fiction
·        Broken heart, betrayal, or revenge:  Crush your character’s emotions.
·        Suspense, action or conflict?  The prime elements of a thriller
·        Discover how to make your manuscript the best it can be
·        The whole truth, white lies, or outrageous whoppers?  Stretching the truth in thrillers.

I was called upon to join a wonderful panel entitled “TV, Radio or Twitter?  The Best Ways to Promote Thrillers.”  I love talking about books, publicity, and the media – and I certainly enjoy writing about those things – but I always get nervous just before going on stage.  I guess it’s good to feel excited and important but those brief moments before the words flow out of me are filled with panic.  I’m sure some of you can relate. We may be social creatures but we just assume let our writing do the talking for us.

For me, I think the stress comes for two reasons. One, is that I get so excited about the prospect of impacting and influencing others that I feel I have to say something so amazing, unique, new, different or better than anyone else on the panel or the in the history of humanity.  But I calm myself down, reminding myself that I know a lot, perhaps more than most when it comes to book publicity, and I just settle myself into realizing I will do a good job.

The second fear is that I’ll be stumped and have a brain freeze, especially during the Q and A when anyone can ask anything.  But I counter concerns over this by preparing some notes of things to say no matter what’s asked of me.  They could be statistics, anecdotes, or things people would find funny.

The panel did a solid job of sharing ideas, inspiration, and information surrounding the topic of primary concern to all authors, namely, how the heck does one sell books, become a well-received brand, and capitalize on the marketing trends and PR opportunities of today. None of us offered the one big thing that if it’s done well will catapult you to instant fame and glory, for there is no singular tool, media outlet or event that can do that.  But there are plenty of best practices to follow.  Here’s what I urge all thriller writers to do:

1.      The media landscape constantly changes, just as reader tastes change.  Success breeds imitation, then saturation, and then writers search for the next hot thing.  With TV and streamed content online competing for the attention that novelists seek for their books, there’s a cluttered marketplace. The thriller writer needs to stand out from a crowd and outwrite the dark realities of an increasingly violent and more complex world than recent generations experienced.

2.      Writers don’t have unlimited budgets – time or money -- but they will need to dedicate time to promoting and marketing not only their book, but their brand. Writers can choose to do what they are good at and enjoy, such as book signings and media appearances, or they can lock down on social media, from blogs and podcasts to YouTube videos, Twitter chats, and Facebook posts. They can do many things and certainly they should do what they find works, but they’ll need to experiment and diversify their marketing portfolio at first. This could mean buying ads, doing byline articles for the book trade pubs, speaking at an organization, getting a booth at a book fair, creating a newsletter, attending a writer’s conference, creating a book trailer, handing out fliers, mailing postcards, signing books at a library – and any of dozens of things today’s author can and should do.

3.      What nets writers publicity?  It comes down to these three C’s – Connections (who you know and who they know), Creativity (in how you pitch your book and present yourself), and Consistency (constantly contacting the media by numerous means (em, social media, mail, call in-person) and through various news cycles).

4.      For authors to succeed they must define what success could look like. Set your goals and have multiple layers – wish list, home run, good sound achievements, met expectations.  Make your goals specific – with deadlines (not just sell a lot of books but to sell 5,000 copies by month one and 20,000 for the year).  Set non-sale goals, such as improving your media resume, establishing or growing a brand, helping get attention for your backlist, putting yourself in a position to land a book contract or movie deal, influence readers, impact the art of your genre, and to have fun with your craft.

5.      During your interviews or guest-posts or article credits, always ask for an action step to be taken. Lead people to buy your book, visit your site, download something, or go somewhere.  Don’t depend on people to figure out what you want them to do.

6.      Promote all of your media appearances – before and after they happen. Media outlets love that, and if they see you are helping them get web traffic, viewers, listeners, or readers, they’ll have you back.  You should also post clips or quote from reviews/stories on your site, in your blog, throughout your social media, and in your marketing materials.

7.      Thriller authors should promote their personal and professional story or experiences over pushing a specific book.  Tie your background to a feature story.  Take what you know or did and relate it to what’s unfolding in the news cycle. Be controversial.  Share deeper insights – philosophy, sociology, psychology.  Reveal something about the human condition.  Be interesting and not a walking billboard for a book.  Discuss your genre or the art of writing or your unique research process.  Find a way to be seen as an expert, not just a novelist.

8.      Don’t forget the obvious - use GoodReads, Net Galley, Library Thing, Amazon Reviews, BookTube, and all of the free or low-cost resources available to you.  Build your platform ahead of the book’s arrival and if you need help, such as the services of a publicist, go out and get one (this is a plug for me!).

9.      If you would like to be interviewed by BookMarketinBuzzBlog I would be happy to arrange for it. You don’t have to be a client – I love interviewing authors.  Just email me the name of your book and I’ll send you interview questions (

10.  Lastly, utilize this best-seller strategy:

·         Build your lists early and often
·         Start with family, friends, colleagues, people from your past
·         Ask your family, friends, colleagues and others to share their networks with you as well
·         Tally up your subscribers of your blog, podcast or newsletter
·         Enlist your FB connections
·         Add in your Twitter followers – and those of Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
·         Trade lists with other authors and send your sales offer to each other’s lists
·         Have a catchy subject line for your email
·         Set a specific buy date in your offer letter
·         Aside from offering a great book at a discounted price, beg them to help you and provide free digital goodies such as downloads of backlist titles, even someone else’s books, or something from another company/expert that would be perceived as having value.

Time your media campaign to hit on the same day or week that your letter implores people as the date to buy your book.  You can schedule a radio or satellite TV tour or blog tour to happen that day.  Your FB ads or Google search words can target that day.  You can schedule speaking appearances on that day.  You may also send out a press release over a paid newswire service to give yourself an SEO push on that date.

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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. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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