Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Love-Hate Of Speaking About Publicity

I recently moderated a panel of colleagues at MEDIA CONNECT, the leading book publicity firm based in New York City.  For the second year in a row we delivered an empowering workshop before Book Expo America, the largest gathering of the book industry in the United States.

The challenge is not to overcome stage fright or to find something to say, but rather it is to find a way to say a lot in a certain window of time.  A 40- or 60-minute session merely touches the surface of what could and should be done to elevate one’s book and author brand.

There’s something mesmerizing and appealing to look out at a sea of strangers who are eager to soak up everything you have to say.  They are curious, excited, maybe even desperate for professional guidance and support.  As a speaker, you feel special, like you are not only deserving of the platform, but that you are in that rare position to help another.  You feel elevated, important – even special.

For the record, I hate public speaking.  I hate preparing for it, anticipating of, dressing for it, and thinking about it.  But I love to actually speak and share ideas, strategies, and resources for those in need of help with promoting their books and marketing themselves.

Oh, boy, do authors need help!

It can be hard to give advice in general terms to a group of people without knowing an individual’s foundation of knowledge and marketing aptitude – and without knowing what their needs and desires are.  But I can assume many things, as most authors need the same things, namely a shoulder to cry on, a champion, a strategic advisor, and someone who can give them all of the tools they need to be better at promoting themselves and marketing their books.

Some authors are overwhelmed by the process and feel immobilized.  Too much to do, not enough time.  Others see great opportunities out there but might be overstating their book’s appeal and their skill to reach and convince the media to cover them.  Some feel intimidated by the prospect of having to toot their own horn while others are so driven by their ego that they want to do everything possible to make sure everyone knows about their book.

There are nearly 4,000 books published daily.  The author that works at promoting his book is ahead of many who don’t.  But there are so many publishers, publicists, marketers, advertisers, and authors who compete for a somewhat big but finite space — with news media, social media, bookstores, libraries, and speaking engagements.  Everyone’s trying to carve out a space for themselves.

We live in the “look-at-me” age, fostered by TV reality shows, rampant self-publishing, runaway social media, and smart phones with cameras at the ready for our 10,000th selfie.  No wonder authors want and expect fame from their books.

Q & A time at the end of the panel discussion can be a dicey adventure.  It certainly is unscripted.  Who knows what someone could say or ask?  But it’s an adrenaline-mover.  I like the spontaneity, where danger lurks the minute the microphone transfers from the controls of a well-polished panel to the loose canons of the audience.

And then time runs out.  Another panel needs the room and your audience, seemingly glued to your every word, floods the aisles to run to their next session where someone else will feel as if they have a loyal, endearing crowd, only to befell the same fate as us.

The lasting value of our workshop will come in a few ways.  For the participants, some will apply what they learned and honor us by proving our methods and opinions worked and have validity.  Others will hire us to promote them, convinced we know our stuff but are daunted by the idea of doing it all by themselves.

The truth is, PR is a collaboration between the author, publisher, and an outsourced publicist.  Each one has its strengths, skills, connections, time, and resources to execute different parts of a publicity campaign.  Teamwork and synergy equal success.

I dread the next presentation that I will make, but I’ll surely love doing it in the moment it happens.  And if someone learns something or hires us, all the better.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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