Archives: book publicity

“The sport of book promotion is more of a relay race than a sprint.”

It’s almost a cliché to hear an author complain about his or her publicity team. But the fact of the matter is that celebrity has become as important as literary merit, with more titles competing for consumers’ attention than ever before, so authors need to work just as hard as their publicists to promote their work.

That can be frustrating, unless you’re able to “rewire” the way you approach publicity. It begins with remembering that you and your publicist are on the same team, and that the sport of book promotion is more of a relay race than a sprint. There’s no recipe for guaranteed attention, but with the right partner, you can at least have a hand in orchestrating your book’s destiny. As an author and a publicist, here are a few things we’ve learned.

1) Rewire the way you think about publicity.

What does publicity “success” mean to you? If it’s getting an interview on NPR or a book review in the New York Times, you should be plugged into those outlets, knowing the kinds of authors and subjects they cover. While it’s always difficult to attract national media attention, if you can convince your publicist that your book should make the cut—e.g., based on the success of comparable titles, or news trends—you’re giving her the artillery she needs to make the case for you.

If national media isn’t available to you, it’s time to rewire. Coverage by a wide network of bloggers, a Facebook post by a celebrity author, or a viral op-ed in Huffington Post gives you a lot of exposure and often translates to sales. Website analytics yield more data than offline media. We can’t recommend enough that authors follow their traffic, experiment with posting online, and actively engage with reader communities to exploit the loudspeakers of social media.

For Bianca’s book launch, a series about a vintage-obsessed 12-year-old girl who’s carried away to different historical eras, we found immense support from YA and style bloggers, who hosted Bianca on a blog tour and posted images of her book on Instagram. When drumming up book reviews proved difficult, we placed larger profiles about Bianca in adult fashion outlets.

Read the full essay with Bianca Turetsky at PublishersWeekly.com 

Trying to publicize a book, particularly by way of newspapers and magazines, can be so challenging for already published or just publishing titles that authors in this position are often turned down by publicity firms. Finding the right publicist has become a bit like finding an agent.

There is enormous value to be had in the months until publication, and when consulting with writers, this has become the starting point of any conversation. Carving out ample lead time to promote or think about promotion can make the difference between a book published proactively and a book published reactively. With 3-6 or even 8 months to plan what you want your publication to look like, the reading world is your oyster. You can begin to craft a marketing strategy including those blue sky ideas that, when you’re publicizing a book retroactively, will be near impossible to achieve. With 3-8 months ahead, you can do a lot by way of networking, social or otherwise, and have a much better shot at mainstream publicity.

But for lack of knowledge or budget, or for relying too heavily on their publishers, many authors find themselves in the retroactive position. Instead of tossing in the towel come what may, I think there are avenues to market or publicize your book in a way that builds an audience perhaps slowly, but also more meaningfully and permanently. Before you begin, it’s crucial to shift your objective from ‘buy my book!’ to ‘learn about my book and see if you like it.’ Don’t fall prey to algorithms and popularity contests. What good are those thousands of followers and friends, those form letters to no one in particular, if these are not people who would realistically enjoy your book?

Here are a few ways to use free social platforms available to everyone to genuinely connect with readers at an individual level:
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At first sight, Jim Estill’s blog would appear like many others.

But there’s something Jim is doing that has gotten his business blog noticed. I found Jim while researching the top business bloggers on Technorati for an author I worked with, Alan Wurtzel, the former CEO of Circuit City and the author of Good to Great to Gone: The 60-Year Rise and Fall of Circuit City. Jim’s blog made Technorati’s Top 50 list, not an unimpressive feat in a competitive space. Despite his online popularity and active day job, Jim was not only responsive and thorough in his read of Alan’s book, but he leapt without my asking to write a lengthy, glowing Amazon review. And recommended the book to others who shared his interests.

In publishing, we need more advocates like Jim. I wanted to interview him to lend advice to fellow bloggers and to authors on how we can all be better promoters.

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With so many authors looking for marketing and publicity support often critical to a book’s success, there’s a question publicity firms are asked repeatedly. “Is it too late to hire a publicist for my book?”

If you’re asking the question, you’re most likely in one of two positions:

1) you’re approaching the paperback launch of your hardcover published many months ago, which received varying degrees of attention,
2) you’re now months past your initial publication, and feeling like the book you spent countless hours and days to write (!) didn’t get the momentum you’d hoped for.
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The Ten Most Overused Terms in Publishing
Do you know how MBAs all tend to use the same terms (“the space,” “leverage,” “revenue opportunity,” etc.?) Here is our equivalent vocabulary for publishing–and we’re all guilty.

What Your Publisher Can’t Tell You About Your Book’s Publicity
Surprise: there’s alot you didn’t know. Here are some positive ways to take action in promoting your own book.
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Would you choose a literary agent or publisher based on brand name, or based on their knowledge in new media?

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An agent friend recently asked me: “Have you noticed there are a lot more writers out there today? When I was an intern, going through the slush pile every day, there were about fifteen queries a week. Now it’s easily 30-50.”

Her hypothesis proves true. When I Googled “how to publish a book” today, there were 300 million search results. Read more »

Before the telephone, there was the telegram. Before electronic mail, there was the facsimile. And then there was Twitter.

As “electronic mail” and “facsimile” are terms that we’re now hard-pressed to remember, so, too, will the word “tweet” sound indecipherable to our grandchildren. But what Tumblr did for blogging, so Twitter seems now to have done for email: reduced our communication to the byte-size essentials. And in a content-saturated world, this has both importance and value. Media editors and journalists are more likely to respond, and quickly, when I DM them a book pitch in a line, since we already follow each other and it isn’t coming cold, or worse, long. We’re all trying to obliterate the email issue. We’re all trying to define who we are, what we want, why it matters, in a line.

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