We have a treat of a guest post and upcoming workshop for the writers and bloggers who work at The Hivery and attend our regular Writing Circle! It is also open to anyone wanting to find out more about today's publishing landscape and what it takes to get your book published. Our guest is Andrea Burnett who has over 20 years of public relations experience with a robust background in publishing, working with Chronicle Books, Ten Speed, Williams-Sonoma, Weldon Owen and many more. She has worked with authors in virtually every artistic discipline and her upcoming Publishing 101 workshop next week is a must for new authors. Her guest post explains what you should consider to create an author's platform and prepare yourself for publicity.
You’ve heard the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same goes for books. There are over 292,014 (new titles and editions) books published each year. So, if you aren’t telling anyone about your book, nobody is going to buy it.
Yes, you may have a huge network of friends and family who will embrace, promote and (hopefully) purchase your book, but believe me, sales will be lackluster at best if you don’t do any publicity for it.
Should you hire a publicist? Well, I’d be out of business if I said no, do it yourself. But here’s what you MUST do before you even think of hiring a publicist:
Build Your Platform
Create a professional looking website. Nothing worse to the media than an unattractive website with no book information and no way to contact the author. Here’s a great article by Simon Appleby about the subject on The Writing Platform; Ten Author Websites That Really Do The Business.
Get Yourself on Social Media
Nothing less than Facebook and Twitter will do. And if you have a book that’s visually engaging, be sure to get active on Pinterest and Instagram too. There are tons of great tutorials and resources to teach you how to do this. Once you’re on twitter and FB, be sure to start following and liking reviewers, like-minded authors and influencers in your respective category.
No need to start tweeting about sci-fi writers if you write about Food. No need to start liking late night comedy show hosts if you write about Parenting. I think you get what I’m saying here. Stay focused and write about topics within your genre. If you tweet links to interesting articles that are about your genre with a hash tag (#cooking, #sci-fi, #fantasy, #fiction, etc.) then others may start to follow you and think you have something interesting to say.
Make sure you engage your followers. Don’t just tweet at folks. Mention someone who has tweeted or blogged about something thought-provoking. Comment, retweet, say thank you.
Write. Write. Write.
Just because you wrote a book, doesn’t mean you’re done writing. Prepare a portfolio of about 5-10 (750-100 word) bylined articles with different hooks/angles that you can use to pitch to editors of magazines, websites and blogs. Do this a lot and more consumers and editors will start recognizing your work. If you work with a professional book publicist, they’ll love you for having these at-the-ready before, during and after your book launch. We use these articles to pitch you and your book all day long!
Make sure that you write pieces that tie into the themes of your book – so if it’s about food – a piece about shopping for great ingredients on a budget. Maybe another is a piece about gathering around the table, and another is about the origins of a certain family recipe, or how to prepare food while honoring someone’s dietary restrictions… In other words, whatever you write, have it tie to the things you know and care about.
Watch and Learn
What are bestselling authors doing in your category? Know your competition and see what they’re doing to get noticed. Who is writing about them? Connect with that editor/reporter and start a conversation.
Think Off the Book Page
Most authors think only about getting reviews. However the review and book pages at national magazines are almost obsolete (not enough advertising dollars to support them). You need to think of ways to get yourself and your book mentioned off the review page and into other sections. If you write about romance, think of a great article you could contribute to a dating site or a lifestyle publication (e.g. tips, techniques, ways to spice up your date night after 50 years of marriage, etc). Your book title and content can be creatively folded into the content of the article and you can include a link to the book page on amazon or your own website.
Make sure you are involved in your community
Whether this is your online or physical community, your participation is one more way to gain visibility as an author. Find something about which you are passionate. This could be an event, an organization, a topic, a blog….. The point is your participation gives you another way to reach prospective readers, and it will help gain entry to media outlets, online and community influencers and countless others, who could be great connections for you.
Whether you are self-publishing your book or publishing through a big publishing house, you will need to do the work. And keep in mind that even though hiring a publicist may seem like a big expense, what you’re paying for is our relationships, connections, knowledge of the marketplace and ideas. After all, aren’t you worth it?
- Andrea Burnett
Learn More About Andrea's Upcoming Workshop on 09/24/15 Below >>
Andrea Burnett has 20+ years of publicity and marketing experience in some of the country’s biggest publishing companies and consumer brands.
Publishing 101 For New Authors Workshop
With Andrea Burnett of Andrea Burnett Public Relations
This workshop will give you an insider’s view of the world of publishing, how to create a winning proposal, connect with decision makers (and get to the top of the manuscript pile), navigate the current media landscape and prepare for a successful book launch.
What we’ll cover:
Part 1: Author! Author!
- To hire a literary agent (or not) and finding a literary agent that’s right for you
- Behind the scenes at a publisher: How they make their decisions and why
- Query letters, proposals and tip sheets
- Self-publishing: the right choice for you (vs. traditional publishers and packagers)
- Examples of proposals and tip sheets
Part 2: Your Platform
- Why branding matters
- Social media: The numbers and why that matters in the book world
- Connecting to your own little world and the world at large
- Examples of authors who are doing it right
Part 3: Your Publicity
- What kind of content makes for good publicity opportunities
- What gets the media excited, and how you can stand out
- What a pitch letter should consist of
- Create content that attracts a loyal audience
- What makes media invite you back for more coverage
- The most important thing authors need to know about publicizing their book or brand
- Examples of publicity proposals and campaigns