Finishing your book is a major milestone. Then you've got to sell it to readers. Aargh! Right?But fear not. Laura Boon is here to guide us through all things book publicity related...
I’ve been pimping books far, far longer than I’ve been writing them, and I have to say being a book publicist is a wonderful day job. It has lots of variety, and I get to meet lovely authors on a regular basis.
This experience has taught me most authors would rather have a tooth pulled than do publicity. Even in my writers’ group, the thought of an upcoming book launch and the resulting publicity obligations induces anxiety and panic in some of the strongest, smartest women I know.
That makes me sad. Publicity is pretty simple really. “It’s not rocket science” as one of my old agency directors used to say (usually after a beer and never in front of a client).
So what is publicity?
Historically, publicity refers to media interviews in print and on radio or TV. However, the lines between marketing and publicity have blurred in the age of 24/7 digital and social media.
It goes without saying online reviews and podcast interviews are now as important, if not more important, than newspaper reviews, especially in certain genres, including romance. For this reason, I prefer the definition of publicity as “earned” space rather than “bought” space. You and your book get a mention because you are newsworthy, not because you paid for the space. This excludes advertising, meaning publicity is any form of promotion you get for (almost) free – there’s a cost to your blood, sweat and toil.
When should you think about publicity?
You should always plan a publicity campaign around a new book launch. New is always newsworthy whereas back-list is a harder sell. Don’t leave your campaign until the last minute. I’m sure you draw up plans and set deadlines for editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting, etc. Add publicity to your list of tasks to schedule.
The easiest form of book publicity to get is reviews, and reviewers and bloggers are busy people with schedules. So, if you want the reviews in launch week, you need to get copies into their hands at least four weeks beforehand. You can use your cover reveal to get the publicity ball rolling and query bloggers.
If you are short on time (or just really hate marketing), commit to being the public face of your book for the two weeks on either side of your release date. That’s the critical period for gaining ground and sales. However, do bear in mind you will only get the most out of that four-week period if you have done your preparation beforehand.
Who should do the publicizing?
Do you need a publicist or can you do it yourself? That depends on which is under more pressure – your budget or your time. With a little bit of help, you can certainly do it yourself. My book The Ten- Step Publicity Plan For Authors is a simple but effective guide to doing your own publicity. Among other things, I talk you through timelines; how to put together a press release; how to put together your own journalist/blogger/publication database, and how to effectively use social media.
If you can afford a publicist, you’ll save yourself many hours of work and get a head start in a competitive field. I recommend finding one who has done book publicity before. You want someone who already has a list of useful contacts in their little black book, and also someone who understands the unique nature of book publicity and marketing. If the publicist can help you out with graphic design for social media, that’s an added bonus.
1. Be generous with review copies, especially ebooks. They are the cheapest and most effective sales tool at your disposal. That said, check out the reviewer’s credentials before sending them a book. Make sure they review, and review in your genre.
2. Prepare a press release. It will save you heaps of time. There are a number of templates available online including in my book.
3. Research has proved conclusively that humans, even the smartest of us, can only remember two to three facts at any one time. Decide on those key facts before an interview and find a way to introduce them into the conversation.
The Last Word
There is no such thing as bad publicity. Truly. It would take me an whole article to explain why, so for now just take my word for it – or read my book. 😉
Laura Boon works as a freelance publicist and editor. Her book, The Ten- Step Publicity Plan For Authors, is available now. For more information, you can follow Laura on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit lauraboon.com.
Does the thought of book publicity give you nightmares? Have you ever hired a publicist or is it something you do yourself? What advice would you give to someone who is new to book publicity? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #PimpTheBook