Public Relations for Authors
Peggy J. Shaw—Springmingle 2015
Know Your Product
Know what you have to market. Is your book a picture book, YA, or a chapter book? What age range is your book for? And then decide who you’re marketing it to—librarians, teachers, everyday bloggers?
Know Your Target Audience for PR
Social media guru Peter Shankman says you can tweet all day long but if your audience is not on twitter you’re wasting your time. If you’re marketing your book to moms, find out the top mom reader blogs. Those are powerful today, and most book PR these days is online. See if the blogger will review or mention your book. Teachers? Don’t forget the school PR people or head librarians in your area. You might tie into something they’re doing and get an author visit. (I give a presentation called “My Life on the Street” about writing for Sesame Street, which I can tailor it to young children or adult writing groups such as American Pen Women.)
Know Your Message
Maybe this is the first picture book about the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Ala., like Hester Bass’s book Seeds of Freedom, about the integration of Huntsville, Alabama. Market that information. What makes your book unique? http://www.hesterbass.com Or maybe it’s historical fiction about Cleopatra’s daughter, as Vicky Alvear Shecter has written about: http://www.vickyalvearshecter.com/main/
Tie in With Something
Try to find a tie-in with your book. When I was an editor at Dalmatian Press, we began marketing the Elmo What Makes You Giggle? book well before the newest Tickle Me Elmo toy hit the market so the book and toy would have a better chance of being mentioned in the media together. We planned a book called “Love, Elmo” to coincide with Valentine’s Day. I noticed that Lynn Cullen’s new book Dear Mr. Washington was heavily reviewed around the time of Washington’s birthday Feb 16. (See review from School Library Journal from Feb. 10.) http://www.slj.com/2015/02/standards/curriculum-connections/lynn-cullens-dear-mr-washington-spotlight/
Working with Members of the Media
Do some research and identify some media people. Then find out what they need, and their deadlines. And have a few things ready, like a nice headshot of you, a photo of the cover of the book, and news release (media kit). Consider a service such as PR Newswire to get broader distribution of your news release.
Remember that much of PR is establishing relationships. For local media, face time can be beneficial. So if you can, drop by to see the editor of the community paper. Bring media kits. Be accurate, courteous, and available for interviews. Make sure they have your contact information and line up someone who would be willing to talk about your book.
If they use something about your book, thank them and re-use the link online.
Broadcast: Some authors go on TV shows, like “Atlanta & Company,” the noon show on the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, WXIA-11Alive. Is one of the TV stations in your area doing a noon show you can get on? Consider radio interviews. Here in Atlanta, the NPR stations are doing more talk radio.
Print: Is your paper still doing book reviews? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution still does some.
Online: Have an online presence for many reasons, one of which is to give the media a link to, say, your website. Most book PR is online now so look for good bloggers.Some sites are advertising based, but often bloggers are happy to interview you on their sites.
Posting items yourself: You can also post your own stories some places, like the community news site Patch.com and some TV outlets like WXIA-11Alive TV in Atlanta. So if you’re going to be doing a signing or an appearance at a book festival, do a short story and post it.
Remember other Media
Post your events on calendar listings, and consider booklists, like Esther Levine’s called “Book Atlanta.” For a small fee you can get listed on this author event list, which goes out to a large email list.
Find reviewers and bloggers who will be interested in interviewing you or writing about the book. Look for places that do reviews like Goodreads, Kirkus, the Self-Publishing Review, and BookLife at Publishers Weekly. And if you get them, post tidbits or the links on social media.
Utilize Social Media
Your online presence is important, so consider Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, your own website, and a blog. Jane Yolen, author of Owl Moon and many other children’s books, posts daily on Facebook, and often on twitter, interesting, newsy shorts related to her books. She might talk about issues in publishing, other new books out, or conferences she’s traveling to, but the posts draw you back to her sites.
Keep your sites up to date. Make sure what you post is relevant, interesting and helpful. Jan Karon is posting tidbits on Facebook about how she started writing her Mitford series of books. Then she will mention work on her latest book. It keeps readers interested and on top of when a new Mitford book, or one of her children’s books, is coming out.
Ask people who “liked” your book to do a review on Amazon. Re-use. Post link on your Facebook page and twitter.
Use photos, and video is hot now. Even if it is a snippet of fun video of you at a book signing, you can use. Lynn Cullen recently posted a picture of some of her books at Target and commented that it never gets old hanging out with “old friends.”
And if you get mentions on other sites, such as Little Shop of Stories, re-use. Post links to those mentions, and re-post any photos. (Watch for times you may need to add a photo credit.)
Use Photos and Videos
If you’re at a launch party, a book-signing, or small street festival, have someone take a shot you can post on Facebook, twitter, your website, or your blog. I’ve had my picture taken with very young readers holding up their Sesame Street books at places like the children’s book festival in Savannah and the Decatur Book Fest.
Book Festivals and Other Events
Look opportunities to be on a panel at a book festival, or do a signing at a small event. If you have a Christmas book out—like The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia by Susan Rossen Spain and Elizabeth O. Dulemba—small gift shops might like to have you beginning in November come on a Saturday to sign. SCBWI will soon be doing online book launch parties: http://www.scbwi.org/online-resources/book-launch-party-pages/
Think Outside the Box
Look for opportunities to sell yourself and the book. Author Carmen Deedy was planning a sequel to her book The Library Dragon, a few years ago, so I contacted Peachtree Publishers and asked if they would like to have the launch of the new book in our school library; they did, and we had a wonderful launch party. I got media coverage and re-used photos on social media. Carmen and Peachtree also used on their social media so we got wider coverage.
Join Professional Groups
Groups like SCBWI not only offer many resources but will put an announcement about a newly launched book on the listserv.Reach out to groups such as American Pen Women and see if they are interested in having a speaker. Look for opportunities to do something at the local library, schools, independent book shops, and Barnes & Noble (ask for the Community Relations manager). Take a book you can leave with them.
Get Help From a Professional
Professional PR people like Mimi Schroeder of MaxBooks PR help author to get publicity. You might want their guidance to help you get signings, submit work for awards, and produce good news releases.