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 more than 300,000 (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.
Get Yourself on Social Media – Nothing less than Facebook and Instagram will do. And if you have a book that’s visually engaging, be sure to get active on Pinterest and Instagram, too. There are great tutorials and resources online to teach you how to do this. Once you’re on social media, be sure to start following and liking reviewers, like-minded authors and influencers in your respective category.
Stay Focused – 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 hashtag (#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 (750-1000-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.
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.
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?
EDITOR’S NOTE: City Book Review offers website development for authors.
ANDREA BURNETT is the founder of Andrea Burnett Public Relations. She has over 20 years of creative and innovative public relations and marketing experience. With a robust background in publishing, Andrea has worked with authors in virtually every artistic discipline and boasts an impressive list of media contacts. She lives and works in Northern California.