You’ve heard the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same goes for books. There are over 292,014 (new titles and editions) books published each year. So, if you aren’t telling anyone about your book, nobody is going to buy it.
Yes, you may have a huge network of friends and family who will embrace, promote and (hopefully) purchase your book, but believe me, sales will be lackluster at best if you don’t do any publicity for it.
Should you hire a publicist? Well, I’d be out of business if I said no, do it yourself. But here’s what you MUST do before you even think of hiring a publicist:
Build Your Platform – Create a professional looking website. Nothing worse to the media than an unattractive website with no book information and no way to contact the author. Here’s a great article about the subject from The Writing Platform:
Get Yourself on Social Media – Nothing less than Facebook and twitter will do. And if you have a book that’s visually engaging, be sure to get active on Pinterest and Instagram too. There are tons of great tutorials and resources to teach you how to do this. Once you’re on twitter and FB, be sure to start following and liking reviewers, like-minded authors and influencers in your respective category.
Stay Focused – No need to start tweeting about sci-fi writers if you write about Food. No need to start liking late night comedy show hosts if you write about Parenting. I think you get what I’m saying here. Stay focused and write about topics within your genre. If you tweet links to interesting articles that are about your genre with a hash tag (#cooking, #sci-fi, #fantasy, #fiction, etc.) then others may start to follow you and think you have something interesting to say.
Make sure you engage your followers. Don’t just tweet at folks. Mention someone who has tweeted or blogged about something thought-provoking. Comment, retweet, say thank you.
Write. Write. Write. – Just because you wrote a book, doesn’t mean you’re done writing. Prepare a portfolio of about 5-10 (750-100 word) bylined articles with different hooks/angles that you can use to pitch to editors of magazines, websites and blogs. Do this a lot and more consumers and editors will start recognizing your work. If you work with a professional book publicist, they’ll love you for having these at-the-ready before, during and after your book launch. We use these articles to pitch you and your book all day long!
Make sure that you write pieces that tie into the themes of your book – so if it’s about food – a piece about shopping for great ingredients on a budget. Maybe another is a piece about gathering around the table, and another is about the origins of a certain family recipe, or how to prepare food while honoring someone’s dietary restrictions… In other words, whatever you write, have it tie to the things you know and care about.
Watch and Learn – What are bestselling authors doing in your category? Know your competition and see what they’re doing to get noticed. Who is writing about them? Connect with that editor/reporter and start a conversation.
Think Off the Book Page – Most authors think only about getting reviews. However the review and book pages at national magazines are almost obsolete (not enough advertising dollars to support them). You need to think of ways to get yourself and your book mentioned off the review page and into other sections. If you write about romance, think of a great article you could contribute to a dating site or a lifestyle publication (e.g. tips, techniques, ways to spice up your date night after 50 years of marriage, etc). Your book title and content can be creatively folded into the content of the article and you can include a link to the book page on amazon or your own website.
Make sure you are involved in your community – Whether this is your online or physical community, your participation is one more way to gain visibility as an author. Find something about which you are passionate. This could be an event, an organization, a topic, a blog….. The point is your participation gives you another way to reach prospective readers, and it will help gain entry to media outlets, online and community influencers and countless others, who could be great connections for you.
Whether you are self-publishing your book or publishing through a big publishing house, you will need to do the work. And keep in mind that even though hiring a publicist may seem like a big expense, what you’re paying for is our relationships, connections, knowledge of the marketplace and ideas. After all, aren’t you worth it?
I offer a great pr package for new and self-published authors. Please contact me if you’re interested in learning more.