Book Publicity 101: PR Lessons For a Successful Launch
By David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC
The book world is seeing an explosion in books coming out each year. Self-publishing has changed the book world forever. No longer do a few publishing houses control who gets published and who doesn’t. More and more people are achieving their dream of being an author. Yet the challenge for authors to stand out is even greater. There is a greater demand for book publicity than ever before. Yet for many authors book publicity can be daunting and frightening. They don’t fully understand it. Here are some essentials that authors need to know about book publicity for it to work for them.
- Publicity does not equal sales. One of the biggest things I hear when speaking to an author is how many books will I sell based upon an interview. I tell them over and over again, there is no guarantee of sales. In today’s world book publicity allows you to reach a target audience and stand out from other authors in your genre. There is no guarantee that viewers, listeners, or readers will purchase your book based upon an interview or review but the chances of it happening increase. Many authors have heard about the sales authors have received by appearing on Good Morning America, Ellen, and of course the now defunct Oprah. Yet there is no guarantee that you will see the sales. I had one author who did FOX & Friends, Good Morning America and appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today at the same time and did not see a dramatic increase in sales.
- A publicity campaign takes time. Authors spend months and even years in writing their book and pour their heart and soul into it. A successful book publicity campaign doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and dedication. Most successful authors spend between six months to a year in publicizing their book. Sadly many authors think they can become a bestseller and get the publicity they need in a matter of days or weeks. Remember it takes time.
- All media is important. Everyone wants to be on the Today Show, Hannity, Ellen, or The View or in the New York Times, Redbook, or Vanity Fair. Yet smaller shows or publications are just as important. First a smaller show allows you to practice your interview skills before you are on national and hone your message. Even more importantly you never know who might be listening. I had a client once who had appeared on all the major networks and seen mediocre sales. Yet he appeared on a small Miami station and sold over $40,000 worth of books because the Vice President of FedEx was listening. Every media opportunity is important.
- Remember who you are trying to reach. Many authors when they are doing an interview forget that they are trying to reach the audience and instead try to make the interviewer like them. They react as they see the interviewer reacting. The interviewers interview hundreds of guests a year. Chances are they will forget the author and the book the next day. Authors need to remember they are targeting the listeners, the viewers, or the readers not the reporter.
- Incorporate your social media component with your publicity campaign. Social media is important and essential to the success of any book publicity campaign. Yet many authors fail to utilize it effectively. They forget to post upcoming interviews or post the interviews after they happen. They also fail to interact with their followers and sometimes have a message different from that they are doing in their interviews. Or even worse theypost the same thing on Twitter, blog, and Faceboo. People know when something is programmed rather than done by a human. Always have the three different but conveying the same theme.
- Realize you need professional help. Despite the popularity of self-published books, the industry still has a stigma with some of the media. The worst thing an author can do is add to the stigma by trying to do their own campaign. It comes off as amateurish. Seek out a professional who understands book publicity and the components of a campaign from interviews to media kits to trade shows to speaking engagements.
Publicity is a daunting and challenging proposition for anyone. For an author unfamiliar with it, publicity can be overwhelming. To ease on confusion and to ensure success, an author needs to prepare for it like they did when writing their book.