Andrea Burnett is a Bay-Area based lifestyle book publicist with more than 20 years of experience. She is the former head of Publicity at Chronicle Books and has run ABPR (on and off) for the last 10 years. Here, she shares some of her tips for getting your book the publicity necessary to earn out that advance. In short? When your book pubs, your job as an author is just beginning.
You’ve done the hard work and the long hours; the mountains of research, and the thousands of rounds of edits. You’ve stressed over the choices of book covers, and debated your way through which publication channel to use. The files were made “final final,” they went to print, and you finally have it – your work of blood, sweat, and tears – you finally have your finished book.
Now you’re asking yourself, “What now? How do I get myself on the radio, or featured on Oprah.com? How do I promote this?”
Well, as a professional publicist with over 20 years of experience in book publicity, I have a little bit of tough love to give you; the real work is just starting. Yes, getting your book through production might have felt like a valiant effort, but getting the media or the public to give it the attention it deserves is going to be another focused effort on your part.
There are a few things that you are going to need to keep in mind while getting the word out about your new book. These tips will not only help get more eyeballs on your work, but help get media attention that can do one very importan thing: drive book sales.
Here are my top four attention-getting tips for authors:
NUMBER ONE: Build Your Platform
Whether you are a new author who is self published or with a large publishing house, you must have a platform. When you begin getting eyeballs paying attention, you want a really great looking online space to direct the attention to. This means a great website, a complete Facebook profile, and finished Twitter profile.
If you haven’t already done these things, start thinking through your branding – not only in regards to your current book title, but in regard to who you are as a brand. Your website should reflect that personal brand, and not just your one book and who you hope to be in 5 years. As you start building these assets, remember that your website, blog or Tumblr must include relevant information that your audience/market cares about:
- Your website must have “About the Book” page, and if appropriate, think about getting a dynamic, 30-60 second book trailer. Video is a great way to show off your book, and let your audience see a little more of who you are. For an example, one of my favorite book trailers is Kim Kushner’s The Modern Menu.
- Have a thorough a bio that talks about who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and your expertise on the subject at hand. Also, don’t be afraid to let your personality show through.
- Have a professional head shot. I cannot stress this one enough. No iPhone head shots. No hiring your neighbor who “has a nice camera.” While you don’t have to spend lots of money on this one, it is going to be important that you have a polished photo of yourself.
- Your website should have a press page where you can begin to display links to any media hits you receive. This will begin building your validity as an author and as an expert in your field.
NUMBER TWO: Don’t be Afraid to Give Away Content
In a land where there is a new media outlet, blog, etc. born ever millisecond, there is a tremendous need for content. Editors and reporters love doing features on things that are compelling, so feel confident that you have quality content to offer them.
As you give away plenty of your book’s content to these online outlets and ALWAYS ask them to offer a link to Amazon book page in the credit line (e.g. Recipes from Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, Weldon Owen, 2012).
Offering up excerpts of your content is the best free PR you can get and it does not cannibalize your sales. If you have a cookbook, don’t be afraid to offer 100 recipes. If you have a novel, offer every literary blog up to 3 chapters for excerpt. Get the content in front of as many people as possible, as much as possible.
NUMBER THREE: Make friends with Freelancers.
The freelancer is a media professional who is just as hungry for content and new story ideas as you are to get coverage – but many authors overlook their importance. I make a point of going on Media Bistro everyday, and connecting via LinkedIn in order to reach out to freelancers. This allows me to introduce myself, and ask them what they’re currently working on, what outlets they write for, and be aware of what kind of content they’re looking for. The more freelancers you know, the better chance you have at getting coverage.
NUMBER FOUR: Make Friends with Thought Leaders in your Respective Space
The more people you can make friends with in your particular category, the better. And as you make friends, you want to be mindful of the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” concept. While you don’t want to be after people solely for their contacts, you should be aware of how these newly formed relationships can mutually benefit each other.
For example, if you’re offering them free copies of your book, you’re helping them with high quality content, and expertise on a topic. And in return you can ask them to offer a tweet, or a Facebook mention. Getting your family or friends to do this with their 7 followers simply isn’t the same as asking someone who is a thought leader and has 1,000 followers.
As you make friends and connect with experts in your field, be prepared to offer more than 100 copies of your book. Just make sure that you aren’t just giving them away to friend and neighbors who aren’t going to champion them for you online.