Therese here to introduce Crystal Patriarche’s first post with Writer Unboxed as a regular contributor. Crystal–a public relations expert and founder of BookSparksPR–will bring us publicity tips every other month. Enjoy!
It’s no secret that getting your book publicity is not an easy task these days. In a market where book reviewers and media receive about 150 books and pitches a day; where the pages dedicated to book reviews are shrinking and book review journalists are losing jobs; where social media and online sites are so vast it seems impossible to wrangle or to know what’s worth the time and effort – in this market, finding coverage of your book and for your book can be like finding a needle in a haystack. And speaking of needles, it’s harder and harder to get that sales needle to move.
It’s not enough anymore to let your publisher alone handle all your publicity, it’s not enough anymore to plead social media ignorance or indifference, it’s not enough anymore to simply focus your publicity around a 3-month blitz approach tied to your book’s publication date. We all know that by now.
So, let’s not focus on how hard it is or how elusive publicity can be – I hear that everyday and so do you. It’s my job as a publicist to figure out ways around that. So, let’s put our collective creativity together and talk about what new and fun opportunities authors have in this changing market.
More and more, I’m counseling authors to approach publicity as a long-term, ongoing strategy. A brand that needs building. A story that needs told in addition to the one the author is telling in his/her book. Think about the new stories and angles that can help build the brand, build the audience, build interest in between books. We’re both in the business of storytelling. PR is about coming up with a concept, an idea, and bringing it to life via media and telling an author’s story. The absolute most fun I have in my job is when there’s a blank page, and then a spark of an idea, and then an entire plan based on that spark, and then ultimately the results of bringing that spark to life.
So what can you do to build your brand and publicity beyond your book launch date? In the spirit of the new season of Dancing with the Stars – or simply to make it easy to remember – well, you can DANCE.
Develop on overall brand and long-term plan for yourself as an author, complete with the look and messages that are important to you to put out to the world on a regular basis. About you. About your books. About your life, passion and mission and what’s important to you. Develop a 12-month plan for publicity that goes beyond the 3 critical months around your book’s publication date. Do things all the time that you’re proud of, that you can hang you’re hat on, that you can rally your readers around. Develop a brand, a platform, a plan, an audience. And watch your readership become engaged and grow. Many times the problem with this is funds – but just like a business, you have to invest in order to grow and to eventually see ROI. You don’t have to go broke doing it, either. Spread out your funds, engage with a publicist who will work with an organic, flexible budget so your most critical months are higher and your other months are lower but you’re still doing ongoing publicity.
Accept that not everything is going to work, that if you get a “no” it has nothing to do with your abilities or work (reviewers turn away more good books a day than books they actually review) and go back to the drawing board to come up with some additional ideas and keep going. I had an author client recently tell me, “I know not every idea will work, but I’m not short on ideas and I’m willing to try!” I accept that challenge, and can’t wait to work on our joint ideas. Accept what’s working and what’s not and keep trying.
Just like anything you want to grow, you have to nurture – in the case of book publicity and building your author brand, you have to nurture relationships and readers. All. Year. Long. Build and nuture your personal network, your author network, your social media networks. Engage with readers, with other authors, with journalists and bloggers. Engage and nuture those relationships so you’ll have fans for life, not just for this book, but for every book and in between. Nuture your relationship with your agent, publisher, editor, publicist so that the team working on your behave is as passionate about your work as you are.
Content is king. Whether it’s content you’re putting out on your blog, your Twitter, your Facebook, your Tumblr or content you’re offering to magazines, websites or newspapers. Hundreds of media a day are looking for interesting and relevant or unusual or timely content. Hundres of hungry readers are scouring social media platforms and blogs looking for compelling stories to digest. Offer compelling content across all your touch points with readers. Become a place where people want to return and see what you have next. Give journalists stories beyond your book that they’ve never seen before, or a new spin, or a fresh idea, or a heartfelt essay or true story or your inspriation or a sneak peek in your life (here’s where you can get back some of your investment too – get paid for writing or speaking. A good publicist can help you with that). Content is king. It’s time consuming, I know, but try to come up with a reasonable schedule that works for you. And be strategic about even the tiniest tweets you’re putting out as content.
Enjoy yourself. Publicty shouldn’t be the least favorite part of being an author. It should be fun – it’s where you can be creative and have some fun with your readers and other authors and your team. If you’re enthusiastic and enjoying yourself, it will shine through in your work, in your content, in your social media, in your brand and that will come back to you in fans and enthusiastic readers and followers.
The publishing market is difficult and changing, yes, but it’s opening the doors for new ways to do things that quite frankly are simply more fun than traditional book publicity. Are you ready to dance yet?