A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
Companies spend millions of dollars to create a buzz for their brand, product, or service. You are not a Fortune 500 company, so don’t think you can compete in that area. But you can learn from what top tier professional marketers do to create a buzz.
At your own level, get people buzzing or talking about you. There are many weapons at your disposal. Aim them at the same core of people whom you believe will buy your book and also be in front of influencers and other opinion-sharers. With crafty blog entries, creative videos, and sustained media coverage – as well as participation in local or industry events – you can get people to chat about you.
Start by contacting people you know. Ask them to contact people they know. And so on. Introduce yourself to other bloggers or people who have had successful video placement. Ask to join in with them. Nothing and no one is off limits. If you give them something in return, they will help you. You are looking to be known, to be seen as a legitimate expert, to be viewed as likeable, knowledgeable, interesting, and as someone to follow.
When it comes to contacting people that you know, start with those you have the best relationship with – friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, etc. Then think of all the people you interact with in some capacity. Maybe you know a woman whose child attends your kid’s school. Think of the person who makes your drink every day at Starbucks. Don’t forget people whom you have hired to do things around your house. Everyone counts because you never know who these people know. The key is to get them to introduce you in an effective way to the people they know and to the people those people know. You can’t just ask them to keep you in mind. You need to propose an action step: guest-blogging on their blog; asking them to tweet about you; having them post something on Facebook about your book; asking them to call in a favor for you; having them embrace your mission and book as if it were their own. You won’t get anywhere in book marketing by being subtle or shy.
You can advertise your way into the minds of those people you are looking to connect with but that can get expensive. Plus, advertising doesn’t come across the same as a media interview, interesting guest blog, empowering speech or funny video. You want to enter people’s inner mind circle, to be seen subconsciously as the expert on a given topic. Ads lack substance and need constant repetition to stay on people’s radars.
One way to build a buzz is through some kind of event or the issuance of a statement that turns people onto you. It sounds simple in one respect – you just need to take a stand on something, to make something your pet project, and people will begin to think of you in another light. But the catch is – what will you stand by and how will people hear your issuance of it?
To get people to evangelize you, think of what moves them. Is there a hot button waiting to be pushed? Every industry has something going on that people love or hate. Think like a politician – what outrageous demand or claim or battle cry can you issue, where there is black and white, good and evil associated with it? If it is an issue that splits people too evenly, you lose so many potential people who disagree with you, though you do rally half to your side, which is more than you had before.
The win-win is to find something few can argue with. If you write a book about losing weight, making an issue out of demanding health insurance companies pay for more prevention and wellness visits will win you fans. But making a statement that health insurance firms should raise rates to treat obesity probably will not. But if your book was written as a defense for obese people, then such a statement would win you fans amongst potential book buyers. Certainly, only issue statements you believe in, and when you make them, back them up with facts and support from others. Think of who else would support your message – get it out to them and ask them to get the word out. Have others sell your message!
Your subject line is the most important part. If it causes you to get caught up in a spam filter or it’s not clear or exciting, it’ll just get deleted without being read. You should begin it with “Guest Idea” so they know the e-mail regards a guest versus junk or personal mail.
What follows “Guest Idea” should be short and say something to indicate the topic and a credential. How about this for someone who has a new book about how to lose weight by eating only fruit—Guest Idea: New Book Says You Can Get Thin By Only Eating Fruit. Or, maybe turn it up a notch and say: Controversial Book Says Skip Chicken & Veggies If You Want To Lose Weight, or Diet Guru’s Controversial Book Doesn’t Favor Fruit.
The body of the email should be short. No attachments, please. You can always send more information when asked. If you have a few sentences about what you’ll talk about, use no more than five one-line bullet points, list the name of your book, state your web site and put two sentences about your credentials, they will know 90% of what they need to determine if you’d be a good guest for their show.
When exploring your options with traditional media, the medium with a lot of opportunities is radio. More cities have radio than a local television station or daily newspaper, and there are typically more radio stations in a city than there are television stations or newspapers. National, regional, local and satellite radio offer thousands of stations, many with multiple interview opportunities afforded by talk shows and news programs. However, all radio is not equal.
First, you need to look at ratings, not just of a station, but of specific shows and then within particular time slots (7am vs. 3pm vs. 2am).
Second, you need to look at formats. You might be able to get on a high-rated show, but you might not want to be on it because the nature of the show doesn’t work for you. For instance, if you’re a more serious author, you may feel uncomfortable on a morning zoo show where everything turns into bathroom humor and similarly, if you want to tell jokes or engage in a shout-filled debate, NRP may not be the appropriate venue.
Third, you need to look at demographics. You might get on a high-rated show but the majority of listeners are not your targeted listenership. You should seek out a shows whose listeners best resemble your anticipated book buyer.
When researching radio stations don’t make the mistake at looking at wattage, or the strength of its signal. A 5,000 watt station in NYC reaches a lot more people than a 50,000 watt station in Santa Clara, CA.
Some stations simply offer no interview opportunities because they are highly specialized, such as they only play music from the 1980’s. Or it’s an all-Spanish station and only Spanish-speaking authors with books that connect to Hispanics and are printed in Spanish would have a chance to get on the air. Then there are stations that conduct interviews, but only on a single topic, such as sports or business or religion. Unless your core message connects to any of these specialties, move on.
Some Types Of Formats Of Radio Are Classified As Follows:
· Adult contemporary
· Adult hits
· Contemporary hits radio
· New age/smooth jazz
· News talk/information
· Public Radio
Within these groups it breaks down into several dozen specific categories, such as ‘70s rock, Christian Gospel, Oldies, etc. Further, these formats vary in their demographics as far as the listeners’ age, race, education, wealth, and other indicators that may influence whether they favorably embrace your message. So do your research.
There are several ways to get radio coverage. First and foremost, you want a live interview. Taped is okay, but you don’t know what time or day it will air—or if it will air at all. Ideally, you want a live interview during the prime listening hours. Some interviews last just a few minutes. If you can get a 10-minute interview, consider that decent. Certainly, longer interviews exist, and sometimes they include call-ins from listeners who ask questions. However, after 30 minutes or an hour, the effect is lost. You’re better off being on three shows for 10-20 minutes each than to do one hour on one show. You want to get your name out there with as many people as possible, and to talk long enough so they are properly interested, but eventually you can talk so long that you can turn someone off. You don’t want them to feel they got all that you had to say, and therefore, don’t need to buy your book or visit your web site.
Beyond a direct interview, the other ways to get on radio include an audio news release, giveaways, advertisements or sponsorships. Or to have a show discuss you and your back.
Audio News Releases
These are 30-60-90 second packaged interviews that get distributed to thousands of radio stations. They get played at all types of hours and sometimes more than once on a station. They provide content for stations looking to fill unsold air time. You could see any number of companies for this service, to create and distribute the piece—and to follow up with reports of where/when it aired. This is effective for certain types of books, depending on your overall campaign strategy.
For instance, if you need to get your name out there and lack time to do interviews—or you’re failing to get interviews—or you want this in addition to whatever interviews you have time to schedule—this works well. Also, if in the piece that gets sent to stations you mention your web site and the site’s easy to remember, it will help direct traffic to your site. Then you can capture their email to list-build and/or to sell them other products/services to complement your book.
The ANR comes across as a news feature, rather than an ad. I’ve seen many clients get 500-900+ airings of a single ANR.
They are just what they sound like. Whether in conjunction with an interview or in lieu of one, you can contact stations and offer to give away three to five copies of your book for free. This gets your book mentioned on–air several times. Some stations also mention the give-away on their site. You can offer signed copies. No need to offer more than five copies per station. You just want to create a buzz. The winners will provide good word-of-mouth for you.
Once an interview is scheduled with a TV or radio show – or a podcast --you want to help them do the best possible interview. You can’t ask them to send you interview questions ahead of time, but you can give them suggested interview questions or a Q and A. You can put tabs in your book to indicate some of the key sections or passages so that if they have any time to skim some of it, they can be on the same page as you.
You need to understand that the interview means more to you than them. They do a zillion interviews daily, weekly, yearly. They want good radio that nets ratings and advertisers, but they aren’t going to plot and plan how to do a great interview. In fact, they’re likely to be underprepared, overwhelmed, and ready to just wing it. Some guests feel insulted that the radio host sounded ill-informed or goes off-message. Get over it. Expect it. Use it to your advantage. The interview is there for you to get your key points across, not for you to simply answer what they ask. Once you learn the art of bridging, you’ll be a seasoned pro.
If hosts poke fun at you, your book, or topic, don’t get upset. Go with the flow. Even if you have a serious topic, there’s a way to joke about anything.
If the host wants to argue, debate or challenge you in some way, the key is not to attack the host personally. You’ll always lose that argument as the host has loyal listeners. Just discuss the merits of your key points and move forward.
1. Contact a ton of people in hopes that at least a small number will respond favorably.
2. Target a smaller outreach list but make it more personable in your appeal and hope that a small but vital number will respond favorably.
3. Vary your price or packaging services to work at certain price points, depending on who you are selling to.
4. Never ever lie, but feel free to paint an optimistic, ideal landscape for potential customers. Do not distort the truth or seek to manipulate the facts. However, you can remain silent about things you know will not necessarily put you in the best light, just as one does when on a job interview.
5. Borrow but don’t steal the ideas of others. Never claim something as your own if it is not and always give credit to others, but where possible, ask others for permission to use their resources, materials, or information to help you sell.
6. Copy the style of others but don’t lift their content. In other words, don’t plagiarize or violate copyright law. But if someone’s work, product, service, or book gives you an idea, mold it and adapt it to what you do and say.
7. Spy on competitors and see what they do that you can do to be more successful. So much information exists about people online – tap into it and use it to your advantage.
8. Find a way to reduce or eliminate any risks associated with doing business with you.
9. Expect to hear “no” or no response far more often than a yes. That’s okay. It’s a numbers game and you’ll win with more outreach.
10. Step out of your comfort zone. You can’t rely on one thing or one event or one list to get you to where you want to be. Keep learning, keep experimenting, and expose yourself to different environments.
11. Find a way to differentiate yourself and express what makes you great, unique, fresh, better.
12. Express yourself with confidence, a smile, and a positive attitude.
13. Don’t delay or wait for opportunity to come – you need to go after it, now, and again and again.
14. Always show an interest in the other person. They come first. You are there to help, support and add to their life. Have them feel special with you.
15. Break everything you say to someone down into one key theme: helping them solve a problem. Come off as the solution, not an expense.
16. You live and die on perceptions, not reality. Be sure to properly shape one’s perception of you.
17. Be detailed about what you know of the people you know. Think of all the people in your poll of acquaintances, Facebook friends, colleagues, family, friends, etc. What do you really know of them or of the people they know? The more you know, the better you’ll be at navigating their contacts, resources, and data that they may share with you if they only knew you needed it.
Think Like a Dog: How Dogs Teach Us to Be Happy in Life and Successful at Work
Prestige Books/Indiana University Press
1. What inspired you to write this book? My son, Ross, rescued Sadie when he was a law student at the University of Texas a few years ago. She was a puppy living in the wild with her mother and was picked up by Animal Control in Beaumont TX. She suffered from several medical maladies including heartworm, which is usually fatal to dogs. As a rescue not familiar with being around people or in a house, she was terrified of everything. Gradually Ross socialized her, but when we accepted a full time job, he sent her to me, his father, to take care of.
Sadie was very much afraid of everything when I took her while living near San Diego. But she was also smart. I took her to the beach the first day she was here with some friends and their dogs. I thought the other dogs would teach Sadie about the beach and dog behavior. Instead, she ran away as soon as she was allowed off leash. She was afraid of the ocean I guess. To my surprise, she ran back to my house – over a m,ile away – even though she had only been there less than a day.
Over time, Sadie figured things out and adjusted; she now knows all the dogs and people in the neighborhood, who has treats, who is fun to play with etc. She also has taken over my home, picking the most comfortable couches to nap on, etc. How did she adjust and become such a primary role in my life and home? As I observed, I thought there were lessons people could learn from her behavioral transition. I took notes and eventually created a book.
2. Who should read it — and why? Anyone who owns or loves dogs should very much enjoy this book. It is filled with true stores of dog behavior collected from friends, people I have met, and published stories. It is punctuated by clever, professional cartoons and graphics illustrating key chapters and take-aways. It is a fun read and a great gift.The book also provides self-help strategies for people and organizations. Taking keys from canine behavior, chapters are filled with clever advice such as knowing when to bark (aka complain) and looking for treats that add spice to life and make life more enjoyable.
3. How is it better or different from others in its genre? I am unaware of any other book that offers advice from a dog’s perspective. There are lots of useful ideas and strategies based on well documented research but tied back into the simple lives of dogs.
4. What challenges did you overcome to write your book? The book is written in 2 voices. Sadie has a distinct voice – simple, direct, uncomplicated, and based solely on her experiences. My voice is more complex drawing on decades of experience running organizations and living in many cities and parts of the world. Writing in two different voices was a challenge for me.
5. What lasting messages do you hope your readers are left after consuming your book? There are several messages in the book. For example, one of the last chapters is “Leaving your Mark.” Dogs mark the journey as a way of messaging to other dogs and animals. Humans leave their marks too, but humans’ marks can be more long lasting and survive the next rainfall. I challenge the reader, What will your mark be? How can we leave this world a better place?
6. What advice do you have for struggling writers? I presented this book to several literary agents and a couple publishers but received no encouragement. Everyone was skeptical that a book based on a dog giving advice would appeal to anyone. But I knew someone at Indiana University Press and asked as a personal favor, if they would take a quick look and give me some advice on what to do with the manuscript. The director and the staff fell in love with Sadie and the book and told me they wanted to publish it. So as Sadie advices in the chapter on Persistence, sometimes you can’t accept “no” for an answer; you need to persevere even when discouraged.
7. Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? The current trend is to Ebooks and the demise of physical bookstores. I think this will change. Younger generations seek experiences over material goods. Shopping malls are replacing clothing stores with restaurants and entertainment. Over time, I see bookstores transforming to experiential platforms and making a comeback. Libraries have made this transition to becoming a center of community activity; bookstores will likely eventually make this transition. I just hope they can survive the short term negative condition.
The United States government cracked down on fake product reviews in a groundbreaking case a few minths ago. Though it did not involve books, it could easily have.
Look at the book marketing world and you’ll see we’re in an era of disinformation.
Let’s start with the basics:
· Fake book reviews abound across the Internet. We know this because so many authors get friends and family to post positive reviews of books they never read and may not even like. Further, they paid marketing companies a fee to get others to post reviews but the people posting the reviews would only do a review because they were compensated for doing so.
· When it comes to book reviews with book review publications or websites, many are paid for. You can pay Kirkus Reviewsor The Foreword to publish a review in their magazines. You can get any of dozens of book review sites to post a review for a fee.
· The news media is increasingly becoming a pay-for-play operation. Numerous local and some national TV shows will sell air time and pass it off as a legit segment on their show. They command thousands of dollars per show.
· Many radio stations sell air time and people will use it to rate what looks and sounds like a legit show but is nothing more than an informercial.
· There’s paid product placement every day in movies, TV shows, and by so-called Internet influencers.
· Many best-seller lists are manipulated by bulk buys staged by authors and marketing companies to make themselves look legit.
· Many social media stars have fake followings. You see lofty totals – hundreds of thousands or millions of followers for someone who puts ass selfies on Instagram. A lot of those numbers are paid-for-fakes.
· The editorial line with media outlets continues to blur when advertisers fund them. They may say there’s a church and state wall, but how could the money not influence editorial coverage some of the time?
· Fake news is all over the Internet.
· Charges of fake news against actual legit news sources by the U.S. president undermine people’s respect for the real news.
So we have a world of fake reviews, fake news, false claims of fake news, and falsified followings of bullshit Internet influencers. What a world. So how does this influence the book market?
Books need the media, reviews, and all that the book marketplace has to offer in order to succeed. Do authors have to play the game and buy reviews and ask editors to favor their books because they bought an advertisement? Do authors even know which media outlets are legit and which ones are not?
We need a fair playground for authors to sell their books, compete for legit media coverage, and for the really good books to rise above the mediocre or awful. In today’s publishing and media landscape, fakery, obfuscation, and favoritism rule.
“The US Federal Trade Commission has successfully brought the first ever case against using fraudulent, paid Amazon reviews to falsely advertise an online product, the agency announced Tuesday evening. The company in question, named Cure Encapsulations, Inc. and owned by Naftula Jacobowitz, paid a third-party website to write five-star Amazon reviews for a weight-loss supplement called garcinia cambogia. The plant, native to Indonesia, is widely mischaracterized as contributing to weight loss, but is in fact known to cause acute liver failure.”
--The Verge, 2/27/19
DON”T MISS THESE!!!
How authors get their book marketing mojo – and avoid failure
1. Energy -- Everyone has their style of communicating and one cannot change their personality much, but we can all come out with a higher energy level. Take effort to get proper rest, diet, exercise or medication to make sure you come across as alive and alert.
2. Enthusiasm -- Similar to your energy, come across as positive, optimistic, and excited to be where you are to present whatever you have to say. Express gratitude and appreciation, smile, and have pep in your step.
3. Humor/Wit -- Everyone loves to laugh. You don’t have to give one-liners and be a comedian, but it always lightens things up when you can show an understanding of an issue with humor. Don’t assume they will laugh at sensitive issues regarding race, religion, politics, sex, etc. but you can be playful about your book topic.
4. Vocabulary -- You need to speak at a level people understand but also at a higher level to display you are intelligent and know your stuff. Use industry jargon where it is relevant, not just to come off as a know-it-all.
5. Curiosity -- Ask questions and express your concerns for others. Let them know that you are striving to know more and to grow in a way they can identify with. People want to feel you have comprehensive knowledge on a subject area but they don’t want you to come off as perfect or as presenting the one and only way to do something.
6. Paint A Visual -- People learn in different ways. For some, you need to paint a picture. Set the scenario for them so that in their minds they can see what you speak of. In other cases, you will have to display a visual – whether on a board, a screen or with a handout so they can fully appreciate what you are talking about.
7. Research Tips -- One of the ways to generate a winning marketing strategy rests in your ability to generate good research results. Your ability to find the people and groups that you want to market to, identifying the right contact information, and to learn what you need to know about them, will dictate your success.
Publicizing your book is a game. You “win” by getting the best media coverage you can garner, as often as you can. It’s a one-sided goal: get publicity no matter what. However, what if what you have to say really isn’t as interesting or as important as all of the other voices that got shut out in favor of yours being heard?
Certainly it’s not your fault if the media chooses to give you a platform over others, as it’s up to them to use their professional judgment, experience, access to experts, and resources to filter out who they believe serves them and readers, viewers, listeners or surfers best. It may even be a statement more so about what the news media has turned into than whether you are a guest worthier than others.
If the media wants information, over hard substance, or it wants a young buxom blonde, or it wants to feature animated debates that highlight confrontation over content, so be it. Just as the growth of reality TV has shelved some scripted shows at the turn of the 21stcentury, so has the news media shifted from well-researched exposes and hard-core journalistic searches for the truth to favor light-hearted fare that places entertainment over real news.
But still, just because the news media has diluted its standards and shifted its principles, does this mean that you should be equally irresponsible in promoting something that you know is not deserving as other topics, guests, news? What if you know your book isn’t as good as the competition, either of all books or within your genre? Do you still promote it with the same confidence, integrity and effort that you would if it truly were the best, most important book?
Of course you’ll try your best to promote what you have to offer, but don’t feel bad if the media doesn’t roll out the red carpet. They may wrongly ignore you – or they may actually be getting it right and dismissing you in favor of something else that is either more worthy of coverage or serves their agenda.
Don’t Forget To Give Back
Don’t some of your book proceeds to a worthy charity. Feel free to consult these reosurces:
For centuries, publishing and authors have searched for the right way to promote and sell a book with great results. It’s not just about gimmicks, luck, or connections. It’s about you.
Here’s the secret formula for book marketing success:
That’s it. Three words to sell yours. Let me elaborate.
To succeed at anything, you need to have the right attitude, not an attitude. Park your negativity, rudeness, or ego at the door. A good attitude is one where you are going the extra mile, remaining optimistic, positive, and confident, in the face of challenges, and in being of service to others. Smile, ask questions, and show a genuine passion and care for others and in what you write about.
Ability is skill. To be skilled at book marketing, you need to read books and blogs on the subject, be curious and ask marketers how they succeed, and train yourself in the art of social media, communications, sales, and branding. You need to have the ability to persuade, to persevere, to be assertive, and to act like there’s urgency in everything. Your ability to learn, take action, be creative and act thoughtfully will win others over – or it will kill your writing career.
Opportunity is something you make. Either you respond to something right in front of you or you find a way to create opportunities. You don’t wait for things to come to you. No, you assert, create, and take something from nothing. Opportunity is all around you. Are you looking?
Too often I see people who fall into trapped thinking. They feel they can’t do something well, so it doesn’t get done. They don’t try to learn to do it right. They don’t hire someone to do it for them. They don’t do something else to make up for what they lack. They just accept defeat and blame their shortcomings on someone else and remain stunted but wonder why they haven’t advanced forward.
We all have fears and hang-ups, more mental than physical, more psychological than real, and yet those things undermine us and doom what could be a decent if not remarkable writing career.
Empower yourself to believe in attitude – ability – opportunity. Re-examine your strengths and weaknesses. Accentuate the positives. Eliminate the negatives. Try new approaches. Stop old, negative habits. Reach out and get help. You can further, your writing career by rejiggering the way you operate. Believe in yourself and know that you can leap ahead of half the country just by re-tooling your attitude, enhancing your abilities, and seizing opportunities that don’t exist until you create them.