Congratulations, you’ve been published! This is probably the point where you get the first tangible sense of validation for your efforts. Your book is on Amazon! It’s on the shelves of Barnes & Noble! The cover looks so pretty! What do you do now?
The number one question people will ask after their book has been published is “Why am I not getting any hits?” Well, if you’re feeling at all nostalgic for the long days of hammering away at the keyboard while writing your book, then you can rejoice. There is plenty of writing still to do. The old idiom “Sink or swim” comes to mind. The simple truth is that a continued online presence is the best way to keep your name and your book on the forefront of today’s obsolescently-geared marketplace.
I’ve included five things to keep in mind as you enter the unknown waters of post-publishing.
- Make Your Presence Felt. The media operates on a short-term memory. For every week that goes by without your name being attached to something new, it’s that much harder to stay fresh in the minds of your target audience. There are many ways to stay relevant without immediately diving into your next big project (if there is one). Guest blog posts. Columns. Guest articles. Or failing that, frequent posts on your blog.
I recommend to clients that they aim to produce at least two new posts a week. This exponentially increases your potential reach, and the volume allows you the freedom to hit a variety of special interests that are relevant to your book and your field of interest.
- Know That You’re the Expert. You have just spent an enormous time on researching and writing your book. You are the relevant authority on the subject when your book is published. That appeal is powerful in attracting media outlets and potential readers alike. The Internet is an open platform, so your credibility as an expert is often the deciding factor fro those deciding which article or column to read, especially in a topic that is saturated with unqualified opinions (like nutrition).
I am not the expert on your topic. You will know the most relevant and engaging topics of your field far better than I ever will. My contributions come in the form of contacts and my abilities as a publicist, not for my expertise in cooking, crocheting, or bicycles (or whatever your field may be). Media outlets will expect you to do the heavy lifting. Which leads me to…
- Deliver The Content. The media landscape has definitely changed in the recent decade. It used to be that we could pitch your story to various media outlets, and someone would write a story about you, your knowledge, and ultimately your book. Now, you have to get over the awkwardness of self-promotion, assume the title of expert, and do all the writing for them. This will be on a topic that you can write intelligently about, not on yourself, but a short bio at the end and a plug for (and link to) your book will do that work for you. Your focus is on presenting a polished, edited product that can be quickly turned over into a featured post.
Content is king in media, and if you can immediately offer an outlet a finished version of their most precious commodity, that will be a huge advantage in getting your name out there.
- Know What the Media Wants. You have the expertise, and you’ve written the meat of your content. Now you have to know how to dress it. There are several ways that you can style your posts that will make it a lot friendlier to the uninformed reader, and in turn a lot more attractive to online publications. Most of these methods are designed to present abstract or complex concepts in a way that is immediately digestible. They also have the benefit of sucking a reader in during that one crucial second of scanning the piece before deciding whether they actually want to take the time to read the article or hit the back button. Here are the four most request formats by media outlets.
- Solutions. This format hinges on your credibility as an expert in your field. Not only does it present your content or view as the best way to do something, but it introduces it as being relevant to some universal problem. This open-ended format also reaches a wide audience beyond the regular visitors of the hosting site; people will frequently search for these solutions.
- Problem/Answer. This is another format that flaunts your label of expert. Although slightly redundant in the presentation of its content, this style has the added benefit of casting a wider net by attracting people who are not only interested in your methodology or school of thought, but also people who currently subscribe to the paradigm that you are contradicting or replacing. If someone claims to have a problem with poaching eggs a certain way, here’s a chance to reach people and inform them of your (far superior) way of poaching eggs.
- Recipes with context. People love a story. They want to feel attached or motivated by the background of a product. How many times has your friend gone on about that one bar where the chairs are made from old wine barrels and the tablecloths are actually reclaimed fabric from a 1920s circus tent (or something like that)? Tying in a personal flair to your recipe can lend authenticity and credibility to your piece. (Example: My love of Italian food and my Braciole recipe)
- Lists, lists, and lists. The crowning achievement of the 21st century, lists are the go to format when accessibility is the name of the game. Pretty self-explanatory, but do make sure that the titles of your bullets can be understood as answers to the question posed by the article title without the reader actually having to read the entire text (sort of like the list you’re reading now).
- Build Your Cache. Always be writing more pieces to have your in your back pocket. Even if media outlets aren’t biting at what has been pitched so far, keep building up a base of articles that can be ready to go at any time. There’s also the chance that someone will be interested in a series of posts, and you can always post them to your own blog. You never know when a publication will have an immediate hole that needs to be filled, and you’ll need a completely finished product to give them right away.
Andrea Burnett has been a lifestyle publicist in the San Francisco/Bay Area for over 20 years. She specializes in food, parenting, children’s, eco/green living, health & wellness and women’s general interest publicity. She’s proud to have spearheaded campaigns and product launches for some of the top brands in the U.S. You can find her on twitter @aburnettpr and facebook .