Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reflecting On The Book Publicity World’s Last 25 Years

This February 16 I mark 18 years with the nation’s largest book publicity firm and I’m approaching 25 years in the book publishing and publicity industry.  So much has changed over the years, both in book publishing and in book marketing.  But I believe the more that changes, the more that stays the same.  This is certainly true when it comes to promoting a book.

Plenty has not changed when it comes to the brains and execution behind a book marketing campaign. 

You still need:
·         Long lead time and planning, from pre- to post-publication
·         An alluring story angle and media pitch
·         Strong research skills
·         A lot of media connections
·         An awareness of the news cycle
·         Experience in knowing the individual and media outlet that you pitch
·         Courage to pitch, follow-up, and if needed, re-pitch and follow-up anew
·         To be very organized, committed, and passionate
·         To love books
·         To be creative, fast-thinking, and both an initiator and a quick-responder

I realize I may have effectively described myself and many of my colleagues here, but it is true.

Sure, we’ve seen great changes, including:
·         The rise of social media
·         The success of the e-book and digital audio books
·         Bookstore chains fell, Amazon rose, indie bookstores are making a comeback
·         Consolidation in traditional book publishing – five companies publish over 80% of all best-sellers
·         The legitimization and expansion of self-publishing
·         Email taking the lead as the top communications tool

We’ve also seen changes in the news media:
·         Twitter-driven news cycles
·         Shrinking print media circulation
·         Television viewership softening
·         Huge expansion in digital media

It takes a more comprehensive effort to promote and market a book today. There’s no formula for hitting the best-seller lists the way there used to be, where authors launched a book with a review in the New York Times, a feature story in U.S.A. Today, an interview on Today, Oprah, or Larry King Live, and a 10-20 city road tour and media blitz to follow.  Authors now promote their books from their bedroom.  All the, need is a smart phone.  And a good book publicist.

The PR firm where I work has embraced – even led – some of the successful ways to promote authors and books.  We trademarked the radio blitz for authors, where we schedule 20 or more interviews by phone in one morning, reaching millions nationwide.  We also trademarked the satellite television tour for authors, where, from one studio, authors can be interviewed 12,15 even 20 times in just a few hours.  We are also doing major traditional national media, scheduling speaking engagements and generating lots of online media, including social media.

Book publicity requires a solid game plan, a diversified media portfolio, and non-media marketing efforts, such as speaking engagements, book signings, book give-aways and partnering with others to strategically engage large networks of targeted readers.

The publicity agency that I am with represents what’s needed to promote a book today – senior intelligence blended with young go-getters.  We span several generations in terms of our diverse staff.  Much of the team breaks into specialization so someone who knows, loves and succeeds in digital media complements one with more experience in other areas, such as broadcast or print.

But book publicity is not for amateurs.  Even though all of the tools are out there – social media, media list databases, directories of bookstores – there can be a big learning curve or time-suck for the do-it-yourself author when it comes to marketing a book.  Firms like the one I work for are crucial navigators of the ever-evolving book publicity and marketing landscape.

What will the next 25 years -- or even 25 days bring?  Certainly more change is on the horizon, but as I explained, the core elements needed to succeed in book publicity have not changed much at all.



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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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

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