You’ve got a new release coming out and you want it to be a massive hit. You’ve arranged a publicity campaign and told everyone about it, sorted various events, planned a big online launch party and sent emails to the press. You’re pumped and geared up to launch this baby way into orbit. Just before you go racing off in a frenzy of activity, take a moment to read this little post. Publicity is good. You need publicity, but alone it is one small part of a bigger strategic plan necessary to give a book and author a better chance for significant sales.
While book publicity plays an important role in creating awareness, there are several factors that positively or negatively impact book sales in spite of your valiant efforts. In order to have the best possible chance of attracting media attention and potential book buyers, authors need to consider doing the following to set books up for the greatest chance of success.
1. A quality book, written with real care and attention. If non-fiction, the credentials of the author are important as is a topic that will be of interest in the current market. Fiction will also need a storyline or author biography that is relevant to the media now. No one can predict book sales or the media’s reaction to a book, especially for a first time author. The expression “write about what you know” is crucial. It will add credibility to the project.
2. Professional help. Books need to be professionally designed (cover and inside layout) and professionally edited, with well-written front and back cover copy. People do judge a book by its cover. It will be the book, its message or story, and the author’s credentials that ultimately make or break the chances for coverage.
3. Complete retail listings. On Amazon and other book retail websites, every book retail description should include a book cover, detailed author page with website, social media handles, author photo, detailed book description, author bio, all tagged properly in the right genre, and reviews even from friends and family to start. Again, there is often only one time to make a good first impression
4. Engage the services of a book distribution firm. Book distribution companies try to get books on the shelves of bookstores and larger retail outlets. If you are working with a publisher, they may take care of this for you, but if you are self-publishing, keep in mind that the more visible a book is, the more potential buyers will see it. Printed books should be available to be ordered in any brick and mortar bookstore and the more eBook retailers and devices that an eBook is available for, the better. Note also that having a publicity plan in place makes a book more appealing to distribution companies considering taking on a title.
5. Pricing strategy, especially for e-books. Often authors offer free or inexpensively priced eBooks to help create viral word of mouth buzz and recommendations. This is an especially good strategy for a series/trilogy—offer the first book for free or very low price to get the reader hooked for the next.
6. Well thought out social media plan. Strategy and fan base building should begin well before a book is published, with the author interacting with bloggers, readers and professionals in his or her genre.
7. Professionally designed website. This is a place where media and readers can connect with the author to learn about current projects, past titles and future work. Basic website information should include: about the author, about the book (with excerpts), reviews and media placements, a place for fans to sign up for news about future books, social media links, author contact information and links to buy the book from all major retailers.
8. Authors need to take an active role. Authors need to connect with both the media and potential readers to make good impressions. Successful authors actively work their network, visit local bookstores, connect with readers and other authors, and give good media interviews.
9. Timing and luck. There is no doubt that timing and luck play a part in the success of a book. Current news stories also dictate media interest. A politician’s messy affair, a celebrity’s death, breaking business trends/statistics, a hurricane, election or an awareness topic like bullying can suddenly make the topic of a book or an author’s expertise front page news—or knock you off the agenda for a bit while they chase the news of the day.
10. Volume of experts and author vying for the same attention. To go along with timing and luck, authors need to understand that there is stiff competition for media attention from authors and experts with similar stories and expertise. When you see a fitness expert on Good Morning America, chances are they have been building their name and reputation for years. New authors need to have patience. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
11. Amplifying publicity results. Successful authors use publicity exposure (links to interviews/articles, reviews, “as seen in Wall Street Journal…”) on their websites, social media platforms, book covers, in future submissions to publishers and in their bio or marketing material. They ensure the investment of time and money in writing and promoting a book continues long after a publicity campaign is done.
12. Continuing relationships. After a book has been released, enjoyed success and moved away from public interest, authors need to continue interacting with media (especially book bloggers), supporting fellow authors in the same genre, and communicating with fans and readers. Becoming a well-known author is not an overnight process.
So, before you start your publicity campaign in earnest, make sure you’ve covered these areas. Book publicity efforts and results take time. Be patient and prepare well. We don’t want your effort to be a damp squib that doesn’t make it off the ground.