PR Tips for Writers
Tools for promoting and publishing your dream book
By Michelle Tennant
Tools for promoting and publishing your dream book
By Michelle Tennant
So you have written that book you have dreamed of writing for years and now want to get it published. What next?
For more than 20 years, I have represented numerous authors through my company, Wasabi Publicity. I also worked in a publishing house soon after graduating college. I have seen many publishing strategies, some more successful than others.
The Web gives you opportunities not only to publicize and sell your book, but also to develop your work interactively with your readers. Give yourself the best chance for success by using both traditional and online PR tools to build interest in your book.
Traditional PR opportunities include things like radio and TV interviews and print book reviews. Online tools include email, blogs, social networking and free media query services such as PitchRate.com that connect you with journalists seeking experts in your subject area.
The Internet offers all kinds of ways to get your book published that weren’t even dreamed of a few years ago. Just be aware there are pros and cons of self-publishing online or through on-demand printers versus the traditional route of going through a publishing house.
Many people choose to self-publish because it is cheaper and allows them to keep a higher percent of profits. Some authors create their own companies and then have their books printed on demand through a company such as Bookmasters (www.Bookmasters.com).
Bookmasters, iUniverse (www.iUniverse.com) and Lulu (www.Lulu.com) are a couple companies that can help you self-publish. Keep in mind that some self-publishing companies, like major publishing houses, take a large share of profits, so carefully review any contracts you sign with your lawyer.
If you don’t want to publish yourself, you can go the traditional route of putting out queries to publishing houses and keep self-publishing as a fallback if you don’t land a deal. I always advise aspiring authors to get a book called Writer’s Market. It allows you to see what books are planned for publication in the coming year and what kinds of books publishers are hot to publish.
A third choice that is becoming more and more popular is to publish your book initially in a digital format only.
Books can be great marketing tools, a way to parlay who you are to a larger audience. Combine them with speaking programs, book signings, radio interviews and Web seminars and you have an overall publicity program that both promotes and draws from your published work.
Many of the clients my company serves are experts in various fields who get national publicity, some before they ever published a book. One client used a series of TV appearances around the country to build a platform for a book and later got snatched up by an agent.
Several of my current and past clients are self-published authors. Dr. Jill Murray, a California psychotherapist who specializes in domestic violence, published her book on Iuniverse and had great success getting publicity. We were able to get her on Dr. Phil, and she was also on Oprah and 20/20.
Another client, Dr. Amy Tieman, created her own publishing house called Spark to publish her works. She was later picked up by a larger publishing house. The PR and media platform we helped her develop helped attract the larger publisher willing to invest money to print her book on a larger scale.
However you choose to publish, keep in mind the tremendous potential the Web affords you to make your book a truly interactive experience for readers. Compile email lists of people interested in your work and share useful information, surveys and newsletters with them. Use interactive blogs to let them give input.
Use free online services such as PitchRate and HARO to connect with journalists interested in your area of expertise. Use social media to build interest and get ideas for your work.
Some authors, even ones already carried by large publishing houses, have taken to publishing a chapter at a time online or even allowing readers to give them feedback on first drafts.
Interacting through blogs, social media and traditional media, such as radio call-in shows helps you reach the largest possible audience. Take advantage of every opportunity to build relationships with individuals who will make up a community of supporters for your book. All of these tools will help you to produce the best, most meaningful and relevant work.
Tips to keep in mind:
§ Use all media opportunities to direct people to your website. One great way to entice visitors is to offer checklists, questionnaires or book excerpts to draw their interest and keep them engaged.
§ Find out who’s clicking in. The most effective sites today ask visitors to share their email addresses to receive newsletters and information. Compile these lists of interested site visitors and potential customers. You can do many things to develop their trust and loyalty. It might be asking them to participate in research or surveys, special reports or feedback on your products and services, or offering them free advance excerpts from your book.
§ Offer free Web seminars. Publicize them free through social media sites, and of course you’ll want to notify everyone on your email list.
§ Get to know the needs of your local media. Don’t just send out press releases. Cultivate relationships with editors, reporters and producers. They may be thrilled to print an expert column if the only “payment” they have to make is to mention your website.
§ Use free weeklies and alternative health publications. These will often welcome free content and give you valuable exposure. You can find free lists of the media in your area at www.USNLP.com.
§ Have a catchy and thorough online press kit to make the media’s job easier. At Wasabi Publicity, we help clients develop online press kits using Online PressKit 24/7, a program developed by us. These include ready-to-use biographies, background information, suggested story angles and interview questions.
§ Use social media and blogs to reach your audience. In today’s rapidly changing media environment, these can help give you an edge (not to mention, credibility).
About the Author: Good Morning America Producer Mable Chan calls Wasabi Publicity’s Chief Creative Officer a “5 Star Publicist.” Michelle calls herself a “storyteller to the media.” For 25+ years, media friends have solicited her help in crafting news stories by requesting sources, sound bites, and statistics. An award-winning writer, Michelle peppers campaigns with insight from her master’s degree in human development, BFA from a top 25 drama school, and expertise seeing PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. She’s either spinning stories or spinning at the gym. After hours, she savors the Smoky Mountains with her husband, husky, and backyard chickens.