What do you think of when you hear the word publicity? Press releases? News stories? Maybe you envision political campaigns or major events that shape the front page news. Actually, publicity is all those things but you, the author, don’t need them all. You only need to master a few tools that can help you break into higher visibility and a larger audience. Finding prospective book buyers is much more effective when working your way into new arenas … arenas most other authors skim over or never think about.
What is NOT Publicity
- Publicity is not Advertising, which you pay for.
- Publicity is not Marketing, which creates awareness of the book.
- Publicity is not Promotion, which creates ways and means for purchasing the book.
True author publicity is CONNECTION; it’s a reaching out that goes beyond the “Buy my book, you’ll like it” level. Today I’d like to talk about the Seven Levels of Connection. Master them and you’re on your way to reaching a far wider audience than your fellow authors.
The Seven Levels of Publicity Connection
- LOCAL. Never discount your local venues. Make up flyers and post them at the grocery stores, in your dentist, vet or beauty parlor waiting areas. Let your local papers know that a local kid did good and got a book published. That’s at least one sure way to get not only a small story to plug into your platform website Media Room, but perhaps even a review or two.
- COMMUNITY. What do you belong to in your neighborhood, city or state? Are you on the board of directors for anything? Do you participate in neighborhood drives? City marathons? Work at state election polls? If not, step away from the keyboard, put on a pair of shoes and get out of the house. Get involved with communities that relate to your book subject. Non-fic writers will find this oh so easy, but fiction writers get a little confused. Never fear, it really is easy. Is there a bakery in your book? Perhaps it’s the location of a key plot event? Maybe one of the main characters is a baker. Get involved with bakery associations. Offer to write for their newsletters, help organize fundraising events, anything that gets you closer to people who might really enjoy reading your book. Using community can be tricky though. Obviously you can’t join today and start spouting off that your book is for sell tomorrow. Just like online involvement, take your time, make friends and when you know the time is right, toot your horn. Community by its nature supports its members. Two or more communities make that support even better.
- NETWORK. Still we haven’t left your home town, but now we’re diving deeper into not only our book for clues about where to network, but we’re seeking more professional connections. Now’s the time to make really good friends with your city or state wide libraries, radio station personalities, news paper reporters, television reporters, chain and independent book store owners/managers. You will be giving a few books away to this group. Your goal is to make them aware that you’ve written a book, that you are willing to talk about it, and that you are looking for reviews. Bribery helps, but only when appropriate. For example, the bakery plot point mentioned above? Take a pie or cookies (because they relate to your story) when talking with these people. Don’t originally seek them where they work or at their office, try to cross paths with them where they live. If the local R&B DJ shops at the same grocery store you do, be prepared with a sample book in your bag when you go shopping. Do NOT be obtrusive or obnoxious, but DO remember that people generally like people, and a person whose works in the media, is always looking for interesting people to interview or talk with. Networks grow from such encounters. Mr. R&B DJ might not be able to talk about your Bakery Mystery book, but he knows someone who knows someone else. This is how a serious networks starts. Oh, and besides cookies, remember to repay a favor whenever you can. It keeps your network alive and well.
- MEMBERSHIPS. What organizations do you belong to? Can those organizations benefit and be a benefit to you in connection with your book? If you’re an artist and you belong to a graphic artists organization (local or national) and perhaps one of your characters is also a graphic designer … maybe you’re in the right place to do a little horn tooting. If not, seek out organizations that will logically work. It shouldn’t really be very hard, you did write a book about this or that, so it must already interest you, right? Memberships serve several publicity needs: they provide another exposure to prospective book buyers, AND they look very good on your bio too.
- EXPERTISE. What do you know? If you’re a foodie and there’s a foodie in your book, now, you’re an expert at all things foodie. Create a blog, invite other foodies, offer to guest blog on other foodie or restaurant related blogs. Always tag your blogs (that by the way, will NOT be about your book, but about your foodie expertise) with a small mention at the end linking to your own foodie blog, your book’s website, your author website and your book’s purchase link. It’s like an afterthought that tells the reader of that guest blog that you’re not only a great foodie, who writes a great blog entry, but a great writer who wrote a book they’ll be interested in. It’s rather unobtrusive, in small type, but like a little tag that packs a major punch because you’ve already gained a fan through the blog you just wrote on Polentas of Southern California. See, easy. You’re already an expert at something that relates to your book!
- ONLINE. Okay, the boom has just officially been lowered. YES you must Twitter. YES you must Facebook. YES you must blog. YES you must be involved with other bloggers and guest blog as much as possible. YES you need to join groups that focus on subjects in your book. YES you need Linkedin to prove your expertise. And YES, you have no choice if you want to be as highly visible as possible. Oh, and YES, you need to start NOW if you’re not already doing this. Why? Let’s say you’re looking for an agent or publisher. What’s the first thing they do? They Google you. If they find only a few listings, it’s very likely you’re going to be low on their interest list. If you have several pages listed under your name, their interest peaks, clearly observing that you are an author looking for every opportunity to advance your career and sales. Do you think for one moment the media isn’t thinking the same thing? If they Google you and see mad activity, that’s where their news nose will go. A vibrant, active and exciting online presence is your foreplay with the media. Sexy, huh?
- MEDIA. Always start locally, as the “home town hero” approach is always a good bet for first exposure. Create a list of local radio and television stations. Look into all the local newspapers and magazines. Search each of their websites to locate the perfect contact. Next, look into online media, radio shows and video podcasting networks. Moving still deeper, look into state-wide and national media lists that can be purchased. If budget allows (and we’ll talk about that in the next lesson) and the list serves your needs, make the purchase. Now look into online press release distribution services. Learn everything you can about these services. Who uses the AP Wire? Who offers international press release distribution? What do you really need and how does each service fit into your plan. ONE MORE NOTE: Naturally under this category we are discussing the media, but I want you to also remember that word-of-mouth is the biggest exposure out there. So, when you do begin sending out press releases, DO NOT FORGET to send them off to your friends and associates! Even if Uncle Fred hates Paranormal Romance, he may proudly tell someone at work that his niece has just gotten one published and that associate may buy the book. Discount no one in your publicity exposure efforts.
So now you see that publicity isn’t necessarily sending out a gajillion press releases to newspapers and hoping to get a story written about you … it’s an entire world of possible book buyers living their lives and doing what they do every day, right outside your door. Publicity is getting away from the daily grind of marketing to the same people every other author in your genre is marketing to and talking to someone different. All you need to do is reach out and CONNECT!
Questions on Publicity for Authors? I’m here and I’d love to answer them.
NEXT TIME we’ll be talking about how you can Market like the pros!
Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres as well as non-fiction. Her non-fiction, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Power Within Your Manuscript was published on November 5, 2011. “Finding Author Success “on Amazon – Kindle and Paper.
She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and just returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years.