Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Book Publicist

The National Post had an interesting article on Book Publicists, specifically Evan Munday, the publicist for Coach House Books.

In the article, he is working with an author, whose pub date is six weeks away and the author is already wanting the marketing to be over with so he can go on vacation.
The job of a book publicist is a thankless one. If a book does well, the author gets the credit. If it fails to get attention, it's the publicist's fault. The publicist's job is the opposite of the editor's. The editor's role is to be invisible. For the publicist, the more visibility, the better. That means connecting with writers, broadcasters, bloggers, critics, editors - right down to readers.
Munday is not a big fan of sending out scads of review copies. And even though newspapers are still the go-to source for book coverage, they’re not the only source.
More and more publicists, especially those working for smaller presses, have harnessed the Net to level the playing field. … Word of mouth: Ask any publicist, they'll tell you that's where it's at.
Another publicist, Penguin’s Stephen Meyers, goes in a different direction for promotion:
He has staged boxing matches, drinking contests and South African-style barbecues to draw attention to his authors. He insists that's essential because journalists "are looking for a good reason to write about a person who's generally perceived to be sitting in a room in front of a typewriter knocking away at the great Canadian novel or whatever," he says. "But that doesn't really make too interesting a story, especially if you have to pitch it 100 times a year."
For the rest of us, who don’t have publicists, what do you like to do to promote your books?
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  1. "boxing matches, drinking contests and South African-style barbecues"

    Sounds good to me! :)

    I dream of having a kick-ass creative publicist. One day. Meantime I mostly try my best to utilize the internet in as many creative ways as possible. That and getting on as many radio and tv shows as I can and doing personal appearances and giving talks.

    boxing matches, drinking contests and South African-style barbecues ... I GOTTA get more inventive!

    The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

  2. I was lucky to be able to hire a publicist for a few months. It was wonderful and they are kind enough to still send a few things my way. I’m trying to do the same things on my own but it is a much slower process because it is so time consuming. I mostly depend on the internet, signings, and radio interviews. Like Marvin said - I need to get more inventive.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  3. I've heard of authors here in Austin who have done things like have belly dancers or sword fighters (they had relevance to their books) at signings. I also went to a big premiere party for a guy's book. It was at a event venue and all his friends showed up, plus people who heard him plugging it on the radio. He had a band play in the upstairs room. It was cool.

  4. Like Jane, I was lucky enough to hire a publicist for one month - the sent out all the review copies and press releases. It only netted one review in a regional magazine, but I made all sorts of connections from the internet strategies she recommended. It's how I found Sharon Lippincott, who wrote a fabulous review, and she referred me to Dani's class, and so on.


  5. I don't have a book published yet, so I don't have anything to promote other than my website. But I expect most of my efforts would be aimed at web-based strategies, regional conventions, and local newspapers.

    Basically, I'm clueless.

  6. I hired a publicist for my book "Dog Park Diary" and a good tool they recommended was for me to make comments on blogs that pertained to my subject. (There are gazillions of blogs about dogs!) Not salesy type comments that only promoted my book, but that contributed to the conversation. It also helped to get others to make comments on (dog) blogs saying nice things about my book. And another tool they recommended I use is writing free articles for the article market about my subject, with a back link, of course. These tools were effective in selling my book.

  7. Interesting thoughts from Evan Munday. I like his idea of making it a memorable event. You find some interesting things, Helen :-)

    I've been working with a small press helping with promotion and that's one of the things I've stressed. Be creative and look for opportunities locally and regionally and how can you use them in conjunction with building your rep as an author--a personality.

    If you are going to have a local book signing, make it an event--not just you sitting there signing books (which has it's place). And that depends upon the venue. But with the right venue, you can make it a theme, music, food. Have it announced on the radio a week before the event--one author decided to go with radio remote where the radio station sends a DJ and has does his show on site. We also got creative with a couple of business in the area and we shared the cost of the remote. It was a success. And give an article w/a picture to newspapers and invite them to cover it and get creative and find out if you can get it in the national newpaper in your area.

    My book is not out yet, but I would use the same general platform I do with my blog, using the Web--doing articles for certain blogs, get in with free articles to different sites. some of mine have been picked up by different sorts of webbased ezines with a back link. Get to know people in the industry, commenting on different sites. I don't get pushy, people hate that including me, but being friendly and showing interest creates word of mouth and the backlink with my name helps too. I'm still playing with the refining process. I go to places like this and other sites and learn and see how to apply it. Yah, time consuming and work. :-)

  8. All of you, including your publicists, have brilliant ideas.

    I think in this day of TV and the Internet, we sometimes forget radio! Of course, the Internet is the number one place to promote.

  9. People used to perch on flag poles for a week to get publicity, but I prefer the internet. There are so many ways to promote your work that's it's mind boggling. My latest venture is a blog radio show, which reminds me. It's on in 20 minutes at:

  10. I used to work for a couple of different bookstores and, Helen, it's all word of mouth, always. I like the new ways of "word of mouth" mentioned here.

    I'm thinking review sites (not attached to a bookseller) on the web that readers became addicted to and trusted would really help us authors for virtual word of mouth.

  11. John Hermann had a dog in his stories, so he used to show up at book signings with the dog. It got him a lot of attention and apparently helped his sales.

  12. To be totally honest what I "like" to do is write books, not door-to-door them. That said, my favorite promos thus far have been my Birthday Club and FIND ME A HUNK contests. Birthday Clubbers get a special snail mail on their day. HUNK entrants helped me choose a hero for my next book. I ran that twice--great fun. Both were done to generate buzz for my work, but do they ever get me sales? Who knows.

    The only promo that got immediate sales was back when I did the Online Party circuit. I took slots on sites where candle, tuppeware, and crystal parties were done via online chats, and I hawked my romance novel. It was fun, and I would always sell a couple...but these parties fizzled out and are tough to find. Ah well.


  13. I think at this point, you name it and I've probably tried it.
    I think the main thing is the author must be willing and able. Sad that author just wants to go on vacation!
    It was suggested that I dress in costume for appearances related to Book I on my YA series, but since the main character is a swimmer, i decided to spare everyone the horror!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  14. Interesting post, Helen. I do my own publicity. As far as sending out review copies, I always query first to make sure they're going to at least look at the book. Then most people will never see the review that's published—at least not enough to do you any good. So it's important to leverage whatever strong reviews you get by waving the best snippets in people's faces (figuratively, of course). For my last book signing I made up a bright red sign that read, "A beach book with sass, savvy, and surprise!" which comes from a review.

    Bob Sanchez

  15. I don't have a publicist because I don't have a book.

    But I had fun for a couple of years working as a Media Escort. When writers came to the flatlands, their publisher would hire be to "babysit" for the day, taking them to interviews, etc.

    Great fun. I met Amy Tan, Rita Mae Brown, Kathleen Norris, Anita Shreve, Molly Peacock and unfortunately also Candace Bushnell. Plus others, but these ladies were top of mind.

    Someday someone will be telling fun media escort stories about you!

  16. It's funny. I was advised from friends who were published to make an internet presence and get a following for the book before it was published. Sounded like putting the cart before the horse a bit to me, but I followed the advice. I started a MySpace page, got a great response so I started a website (Destineers) then added the forum ( The Cybrarie). I still have not finished the novel, but have gotten calls from a couple of local schools to come talk to the kids about writing so we self-published the Destineers Journal (a fantasy encyclopedia "written" by one of my characters)It's been a blast!

    Nancy, from Just a Thought…


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