You have written this fantastic thriller, perfectly edited, your book has a stunning cover and already received praise from reviewers.
Still your books’ sales are not what you envisioned when you started your author-publishing… I am talking here not only about author-published books, but also those who are published traditionally. In print your book has only a very small window of three months to make or break it in bookstores. After that, remaining copies will be returned to the publisher (the bookstore will not order it again, if it did not “make it”) and sold by your publisher for a very low price to mass markets (in the best case) or trashed.
To get the word out about the upcoming book launch, to receive positive articles in newspapers., magazine, book blogs, or to get interviews, writers should professionally deal with anyone who could tout their book – not only national press or TV. Often book bloggers can do more than a newspaper for your book to be discovered. After all, they have the right audience. Don’t be surprised when you never get an answer to your press releases if you don’t provide a compelling reason for the journalist or interviewer how their listeners/readers profit from your information.
Don’t make these common errors:
- Not having a press page on your website
Unfortunately most writers are not aware that journalists, bloggers or radio hosts need a bit more information than what they see on your Amazon page. And they won’t just copy and paste your “about the author” or the description of your book on the sales page. Check out Stephen Kings website, one of the best of all authors. His whole website is almost a press release, but see how he organized his page for the media: http://www.stephenking.com/press.php
- Not offering a variety of cover photos
For internet articles media people need images in jpeg or gif and for print a TIFF version is necessary. As more pixels as better. Offer several versions / sizes on your website for download or copy/paste. Get this versions from your cover designer when creating your books cover, which is often included. When ordering it later, they (rightfully) charge you for a second order. See again Stephen Kings website how he deals with press photos and how easy he makes it for journalists.
- Not giving full information
Journalists are usually lousy paid. They work hard, always under deadline pressures. Make it easy for them and provide exact links about anything that was ever written about your book, any interviews, and links to videos, from your book trailer to taped interviews. Don’t hide these links, write them open. This way it is easy to copy and paste it for the blogger or journalist and to work with your information. It happens so many times that I ask authors if they had any interviews. They write back “yes”, but not when, where, with whom and if there is any documentation, such as a blog, a newspaper interview or a video available. There is more:
Show prominently on the front of your web page a link or a button to your book order page. Not everyone wants to browse through the whole website and search for purchase information.
A good idea is to think about possible questions and what could be interesting for the interviewer and listeners/readers and offer this list. Sometimes the interviewer didn’t even have time to read your book and will be thankful for any help you can provide.
- Not having a (virtual) portfolio at all
Visual artists have usually wonderful portfolios including snippets from media articles about their work or praise from art collectors and customers. Why not writers? Why not collecting (copy/paste) everything that was ever written about your book or excerpts of book reviews and add it to your website. Maybe offering a chapter or part of it for readers before they order your book. Providing website visitors with exact links to all of your sales pages. It is called world wide web, which means if you book is available to customers in Japan, India, Brazil or the UK, they are thankful to immediately find out where on Amazon, Kobo or any other online retailer they can buy your book and important: getting the exact link to your sales page.
- Not following up
Don’t send out your news release and forget about it. Follow up quickly. You searched and found the right person to send your press release, so call within a day or two to make sure the announcement was received. However, don’t call an editor or reporter when they are on a deadline. A general rule of thumb is not to contact a newsroom in the late afternoon. Ask their secretary which time is best. When calling, verify that they have time to talk. Be available when a reporter calls and tell them why your release is important to their readers and viewers.
- Not being prepared for one-on-one interviews
OK you worked hard to send out these press releases and your finally get the call for a radio show interview – this afternoon. You almost faint, as you are not prepared at all… You know, if you decline, you will not be invited – ever.
So better be prepared, start before you even sent out your press releases. Good interviewing skills and techniques can be learned. There are quite a few books out there, just to mention one, by Sharyn Doolan, “Media Training and Presentation Skills. How to deal with the Media for Business and Profit.” And it costs … $0.99
- Not becoming familiar with the media outlet
No matter if you deal with a newspaper/magazine, radio or TV: do your homework and get familiar with their former articles and possible interview questions, their writing style, the names of their interviewers, journalists etc. If you are to be interviewed in person, get to know how you can reach their studio and allow plenty of time. Calculate to be there at least an hour or two before the interview starts.
Rule # 1
Build relationships months in advance of pitching! Patrick Garmoe wrote a great article on Copyblogger, geared to small businesses, but his great advise how to pitch the media can be used by writers as well. Some of his most important tips here:
- Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or in real life more than six months in advance of pitching a reporter.
- Monitor the Twitter hash tags of your community. Often reporters chat with the public on Twitter, and you can respond to comments they make.
- Compliment a reporter via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail on a story he or she did.
- Introduce yourself to reporters at big public events. Pass along your card, but don’t try and sell them the idea on the spot. Just connect with them.
- Leave a comment at the end of the online version of a story a reporter did, which you genuinely liked.
- Congratulate them on personal news they post.
- Write a positive blog post, highlighting their story, and e-mail them the link.
- Respond regularly to posts they’ve written either on their blog, or on a local community blog you have noticed they post on.
- Visit city council meetings in your town. Typically there’s a reporter sitting around, bored, that you can build a relationship with. But wait and meet them several times before pitching anything.
- Sign up on helpareporter.com. Several e-mail lists are sent out daily, full of reporters needing experts for stories. Jump on those that fall within your expertise.
- Scout publications with smaller and more targeted readerships, such as a local weekly publications. These media outlets are often run by just two or three people, and they often jump at a guest column or article by you because it will save them the time of tracking down a story on their own.
- Listen to AM radio stations, especially on weekday mornings or on Saturdays. Befriend one of the regular show hosts. Often they sometimes highlight a writer/artist/business that is doing something the public might find interesting.
- Don’t spend money on an online press release site early on. Those online press release systems are more useful for building inbound links, or if you are already a recognized expert with a track record, and there’s a major news event breaking that you could discuss.
Many writers dream of the exposure their book could receive in print or online articles, or on a popular radio or TV show. It is one step more in your book PR efforts – not the start of a million book sales avalanche – rather an opportunity to maybe get a free video recording of your interview or another article for your book’s portfolio. It also increases your recognition as an author and is a great sales argument when dealing with libraries or bookstores. Don’t forget: PR is a long-term strategy!
To be considered for an article or interview you have to show that you are a professional author. No media employee or book blogger wants to deal with clueless beginners and help them with every detail in the process. More about how to write successful press releases in an upcoming blog post.
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