OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Once your book is complete, you need to tell people about it. If you are published traditionally, the publisher may provide you with a publicist. If you are self-published, you will need to organise your own publicity.
Either way, the book publicist is someone you need to know! I met Chelsea McLean on Twitter. She is a book publicist and answers questions below.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I help authors get positive media publicity for books that improve peoples’ lives. Media love to interview authors because when you’ve written a book you instantly become an authority in your field. I believe the most effective marketing tools are books and media publicity because they both give you instant credibility. Currently I am writing an Australian guide to generating valuable, free media publicity for your book.
Why do authors need to take publicity and marketing seriously?
Publicity and online marketing drives book sales. Even if your book has been published by a large publisher, it is still the job of an author to be responsible for the sales and marketing of their book. Publishers want to see how you intend to sell your book and you can strengthen your proposal with a red-hot marketing plan that includes a media kit and a list of the relevant media outlets you plan to target for valuable free publicity. If you are a self-published author you absolutely must invest in publicity and marketing if you want to sell multiple copies of your book.
Why do you recommend authors get a publicist for their book? What types of services are provided?
It takes time and focus to get editorial publicity results and you need to understand how the media works to be successful. There are never any guarantees when it comes to free publicity because there is no control over whether the media pick up your story, offer you an interview or mention your book. You also need the time and focus to diligently follow up with polite persistence. Few authors have time to do all of this themselves and get it right. A publicist understands how to work with the media to make their job easier so they, in turn, love you and your book.
If authors want to do it themselves, what are your 3 top tips on how to get publicity?
1) Have a professional media kit for your book – a media release is your main publicity-generating tool and this should be one or two typed pages. The kit should also include a short author bio, a sample interview Q&A, a media backgrounder on your book, and high-resolution images of you and your book cover. It pays to get some guidelines if you plan to create the kit yourself and you can invest in ready-made templates available at http://www.buildbookbuzz.com/workbook/index.htm The best way to distribute your media kit is by email, so make sure you have the software to convert each document into PDF files.
2) Research your target media and get familiar with their style and format – this means building a list of all the possible media outlets that might be interested in your book and what you have to say. Include newspapers, magazines, radio programs, TV shows and websites, e-zines and e-newsletters. Make sure you list all of your local media as well as state-wide and national media. Now the key to getting publicity is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. This means being the audience by watching the TV shows, listening to the radio programs, reading the newspapers and flipping through the magazines you plan to target. This is the only way you can visualise whether or not they will be interested in your book. You need to be familiar with the format, style and content of each media outlet before you send them your media kit.
3) Always offer to help the media – be humble, be polite and be persistent
Why do the media like to use authors so much?
Authors are perceived as the ‘authorised knowers’ in their field and they can help journalists by providing relevant comments and information. Writing a book gives you instant credibility because it shows you have done your research and know your topic. You can own your area of expertise by writing a great book about it. Your book works for you as a marketing tool and can build you a solid platform as a speaker and educator.
Recently I have been working with dietitian and author Amanda Clark on the launch of her new book Portion Perfection – A visual weight control plan. The media love Amanda because she understands how journalists work and is always keen to help out with interviews on a broad range of diet-related topics at the last minute. That makes her a wonderful client too! She is now a repeat guest on 7’s Sunrise breakfast program and the producers plan to call on her again because she is great talent. You can see our recent media results at www.portionperfection.com.au/media
What’s the main thing authors need to do to get their book mentioned in the media?
Give free information and advice. You need to give first to receive later. It’s the law of reciprocation – offer valuable, timely and relevant information to the media and you could get a return on your investment with a mention in the media that will boost your credibility without you having to pay for it. In fact, that’s what makes editorial so credible and valuable – you can’t pay for it… you have to earn it.
You’ve recently been on the radio. How did you pitch the show and what did you learn?
Yes, I was a guest on Brendon Sinclair’s Business Mix Internet radio show. Brendon is a friend of mine, a successful author and speaker, and was one of my first clients several years ago. He is a brilliant online marketer who knows how to get websites into the top 10 of Google instantly. It really helps if you know people in the media! Brendon teaches me so much about online marketing and got me into blogging and twitter.
How can people get in touch with you?
You can visit my website at http://www.chelseamclean.com and see my latest book publicity tips and advice at http://www.chelseamclean.com/latest-blogs