Writers have a wonderful gift ~ we have the gift of taking images and ideas from our imaginations and using them to paint a picture with our words; a picture that can transport our readers to another world, to let them live in someone else’s shoes or be privy to someone else’s thoughts. We delve into our characters until we know their personalities, their behaviors, their backgrounds and their innermost thoughts and feelings and we convey all of this to our readers so they feel that they know this character almost as well as they know themselves. We play pretend very well. So let me take you on a pretend journey. Let’s pretend you have a published book. You walk into a bookstore or library and feel that thrill of seeing your book on the shelf, your name on the cover, your picture on the back flap with your bio proudly proclaiming your accomplishment. There are countless words to describe the feeling, yet there is no one word to cover it all. Now, you have your book, you can hold it in your hands, you can leaf through the pages and see the sweat and the tears of your labor. The question is….how do you get other people to read it?
Marketing is a key element. The path we take depends on our individual goals. If your aspirations are simply to have a well designed published book containing your story or message available for family and friends or if you are a well-established speaker, with some proactive networking in the writing community, you may be able to create and implement your own marketing plan. However, if you desire your books to be in the hands or readers across the nation or even regionally, you need a publicist. Even if you have a traditional publisher, with a publicist, that publicist works for the publishing house, not for you. There is a certain advantage to having your own Public Relations firm working for you. So why do you need a publicist and what can they do for you?
A good PR firm knows how to position your book with the media. They know how to get the attention you and your book deserve. They have access to the databases and mailing lists that give you access to the media contacts you need. Depending on your agreement, they will set up interviews, arrange book reviews, send out effective pitches letters, write articles and help you position your book for your target audience. (Although press releases and press kit are somewhat passé, you should create them in case you receive a request) An effective PR firm will help put you in front of your audience; after all, if you can’t find your audience, chances are they can’t find you. At times, the right PR firm may even see you more clearly than you see yourself and they will be able to position you in front of more possible readers than you imagined.
I have had my ups and downs with PR firms in the past, and I must say that the one I am working with now understands me better than I understand myself at times. They were able to combine my background with the background of my novel and develop effective pitches which have landed me on close to 200 radio shows and 15 TV shows. Unlike my former publicist, who sent books out with pitches (a dial-a-prayer approach which turned hundreds of books into junk mail–many of which I found listed as used books on Amazon prior to my publication date). My PR team is an author’s dream, with caring, responsive professionals. They first create interest through well developed pitches and send books out only by request of the interested radio, TV, and print media producers. They have a no nonsense approach to PR.
It is important to find a PR company that you can relate to and who can relate to you, there is no one size fits all firm. When you are looking for a PR firm to promote your book, there are certain questions you should ask yourself as well as the firms you are interviewing.
- How much experience does the firm have, not only with publicizing books, but with your genre as well?
- What kind of coverage are they offering? Print? Radio? TV? Online?
- How long do they expect it to take to get the ball rolling?
- How much will it cost?
- What do I have to contribute?
No matter how fantastic and knowledgeable your PR firm may be, they cannot be successful in promoting you unless you take an active role. We all know more than we think we do about those things we are inspired to write about. To be effective, work with a group who can empower you to bring that knowledge to the surface. Be professional and never stop learning. A good PR firm will help you to understand the value of a website and social media to promote your book as well as how to brand yourself as an author.
I’m sure you have plenty of questions to add to these yourselves. There are many more aspects of book promotion to consider; which is another reason why you should let a PR company help guide you through the process. After all, you worked hard on your book, you poured your soul into it…do you really want to leave it up to fate that your audience will find you, talk about you and drive others to your book? Many wonderful worthwhile books have remained unread because people have not heard about the book or the author. The fate of your book is in your hands.