I have worked with many successful authors over the years and have seen that although there are many factors that vary from book to book for a successful book publicity and marketing campaign, there are a few non-negotiable fundamentals that most authors must possess in order to achieve and maintain a success. I delve into these a bit deeper in my book, How to Get Publicity for Your Book, but this will give you an overview of what they are. Not only is this is what you will need to actually be able to build and run your own publicity campaign for your book, but more importantly, these are the things you need in order to successfully maintain your author platform. Take a look at the information below and contact us with any questions. You CAN be a successful author as long as you HAVE the tools necessary to do so.
Below are your non-negotiables…
A BOOK OR AN IDEA FOR A BOOK
Public Relations for an author doesn’t need to begin once you’ve finished your book. It’s actually a better idea to begin building your platform as an author before you even publish your book.
Are you a professional or expert that wrote or will be writing a book based on your expertise? Look for different outlets that you can contribute your knowledge to like magazines, blogs, news websites, etc. Are you writing a novel? Look for outlets that allow short fiction submissions or allow others to submit articles about their writing process.
Many agents will agree that it is important to have an established following as an author/ writer before submitting proposals to publishers, and that an established platform can actually help you get a contract with a publisher or agency.
If you don’t have a finished product then make sure the concept is complete and outlined.
A PAID EDITOR
If you are self-publishing, then my advice to you is to make damn sure someone other than your BFF with great grammar skills edits your book. Save your BFF to be your beta reader. When it comes to editing your book and getting an editor, I’m talking about a professional. Yes, an editor that you will have to PAY to EDIT your work. Getting your book into the hands of the right editor is crucial. Let me lay it out for you, when you self-publish you are already fighting an uphill battle. ANYONE can self-publish these days. I have had more people than I can count want me to represent their self-published book and after I read it, I usually find spelling and grammar errors within the first couple of pages. I’m not saying that mistakes don’t happen and I have seen some mistakes in traditionally published books, but the bottom line is that if you want critics to take a look at your book and give it a good review, the first step is in the editing. You can have the best story, characters, arc, or whatever—but if it is riddled with errors, people won’t get past those.
Yes, it will cost money and yes, it might be pricey, but in the end, if you are going to put something out into the world and expect it to do well, then do what needs to be done to make sure that you put quality out and don’t waste your time with something half-assed.
A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF COMPUTER PROGRAMS
If you don’t know what a Word document is or a PDF is, then start upping your computer vocabulary and understanding of different software. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we now live in a digital age. Programs are constantly evolving and you have to keep up. A well written email and well formatted PDF for your media kit will go a long way for reviewers and/or media contacts. If you can’t put something together that looks nice, professional and has the right information, then you aren’t going to get far and you will be wasting your time.
A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE BOOK MARKET
As a writer you should try and immerse yourself in the publishing industry. Get to know the trade magazines as well as what current trends are going on in the market. Do you refuse to publish an EBook? Check out how EBook sales in your genre are doing. Do you want to solely stick to EBooks? Check out how print is doing in your genre. Everything is relative to your genre in this industry. There is no one size fits all plan for any book. So if you are planning on finishing or publicizing your book, make sure you know the ebb and flow of this crazy and exciting market.
A REALLY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR GENRE AND READER MARKET
What category or categories of genre does your book fall into? What are some similar books that you can HONESTLY compare your book to? If you are writing YA but only read or know about the non-fiction self-help market, then that might not help your cause. Are sales declining in your genre? Who has had a successful publicity campaign with a book similar to yours? Can you point out some of the campaign points that drove awareness, sales and success? Knowing your competition and having someone that you look up to in your genre can help you take the right steps or avoid the wrong ones. Other than reading your genre of book, what do your target readers like to do? What are their hobbies, jobs, family status, sex, etc? Knowing your reader is critical to the success of your book.
A FUNCTIONING WEBSITE
This is your online presence. It is where readers, reviewers and producers will revert back to see who you are and what your book is about. Consider it an online résumé. It is the FOUNDATION of any PR campaign so make sure yours is stellar! With the website templates that are now available on WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly, creating your own website doesn’t have to be expensive. Even if you need to hire someone to do this, you can get a really nice website for a price anywhere from $500 to $2000, depending on the content and design.
A PRESENCE IN AND KNOWLEDGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Do you know what a Twitter handle is? Do you know the difference between a Facebook author page and a personal Facebook page? Social media is AMAZING, crazy, evolving, and the best tool for an author to connect DIRECTLY to his or her reader. As an author with a crazy writing schedule, it may be hard to keep up with the ever-changing social media Joneses, but it is a big part in gaining a wider audience. Knowing which social media platforms are best for you and your book can help you hone in on your audience and also help you to better understand at least one social media platform. This is another aspect of a campaign that I recommend hiring someone to teach you about. If that is not an option, I also recommend watching free online tutorials to help you understand the ins and outs of social media. Social media is now a staple in our society and a staple in any campaign.
TIME AND PATIENCE
If public relations were easy-peazy, then I would be out of a job. It takes time, patience, and know-how. I can help you understand what you need, but you need to make the time for it. You also have to understand that everyday journalists are being bombarded by hundreds of authors or people that think their story is the next best thing that should get coverage from them. Self-publishing has made it easier for everyone to get their story out, but that just means there is a lot more competition. Even if your book does get requested by a reviewer or producer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will cover it. Make sure you have the patience and time to fully dedicate to your book’s PR efforts.
A THICK SKIN
When you send reviewers pitches, you might not hear back, you might hear no, and you might hear yes and then see a review that says the book was horrible. Be realistic. You can’t please everyone and trying to will only hurt you even more. All the negatives don’t mean that you’re a bad person, that you aren’t smart, or that you are a bad writer, it just means that you aren’t the writer for them, or that your book wasn’t for them. Don’t take things too personally. A real writer writes because they have to, it’s in their blood and a few people with negative opinions about them will never stop that.