Ask an Award-Winning Literary Publicist #2 First Steps and Social Media
Sandra Goroff is a veteran award-winning literary publicist with Reedsy. Over her illustrious 30-year (and counting) career, she has worked in-house at Houghton Mifflin and represented authors the likes of Clive Cussler, Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, and former president Jimmy Carter.
In her second guest post, Sandy will answer questions submitted by authors, shining some light on how to best approach publicity as an author.
Q: “What does a publicist cover in today’s social media environment?”
You are right that social media has changed the landscape of publicity. It has transformed much, but not all of it. It is only one (albeit an important one) of the many tools and venues we use to promote our work, and, in this instance, books and authors.
The social networks
The benefit that professional publicists bring to the process is all about experience, access and contacts. An experienced publicist brings years of strong working relationships to the table. They know how to develop story angles, use the news, find the journalists and writers, match you with appropriate media (print, broadcast and social), build upon your core audience, and maximize exposure. In addition, they understand timing, how to work (or not work) with bookstores, set up events, and, when needed, how to collaborate with an in-house team.
This does not mean that a hard-working author — even a first time author — cannot do this by themselves, for themselves. It means that most of time, a good publicist can do it faster and more effectively, with all the right contacts and know-how already in place. The learning curve for first time writers (or all authors who are writers and not publicists) is steep. And while all things are possible, it depends on how hard you want to work and whether you are familiar with this often overwhelming world.
Handling publicity in the Internet age
I still believe that a creative combination of old and new methods works best. You want to be heard and seen to stimulate word of mouth, visibility, and ultimately sales. Should you decide to work with a publicist, you can be an effective partner — working together produces the best results.
Many factors go into deciding whether one should employ an outside publicist, including finances, chemistry, schedule, promotability and market goals. The choice is always yours to make, and a good publicist will spend the time with you to help you determine what is best and most realistic for you.
First time for everything
Q: “What is the most important step a self published author must take in order to successfully publicize a first book?”
This is a big question, and not every answer is right for every author and book. That said, some things are essential no matter the genre or subject.
Some publicity is universal
Network, link, repeat, share, post, brand, build momentum, communicate and repeat again. This is true for big, bestselling authors and for first time novelists — the only difference is that big, bestselling authors may have big, powerful publishing houses to do the work for them.
You need to get the word out and start that process early (several months before publication). Word of mouth has always been and is still the most powerful marketing tool. The way we generate that “buzz” may be different today thanks to online media, social media, blogs, podcasts, etc. But the goal is the same:
- Ignite awareness and excitement,
- Engage others,
- Create interest,
- And make your audience care and want to read your book.
Show enthusiasm. Every time you get a review, mention, item, or interview, use it as a tool with which to “get” something else (send an article to a radio station, post a review, etc).
Publicize your book and yourself
Management guru and bestselling author Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence) coined the phrase, “BRAND YOU.” While you are promoting and marketing your book, you are branding yourself, and in turn, finding and building your audience. This is not a good time to be shy.
Start with the basics:
- Write a release,
- Create a website,
- Explore opportunities for self published authors on sites such as Amazon or through the print on demand company you are working with,
- Set up a talk at your local library,
- Try giveaways,
- Write a blog,
- Network with other authors,
- Help others promote their work,
- Consider contacting appropriate media that cover the area that you live in or subject,
- Join writing groups,
- And participate on social media by joining and posting about your book on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.
Then, repeat, repeat, repeat.
There are a myriad of different ways to publicize your beautiful new book. This is a process that, like most other things that matter, requires effort. Your own energy and level of commitment will determine how that process unfolds. Only you can decide what feels right to you. And that is why I say this is a big question, for it is different for every author and book.
Wishing you the very best of luck!
Is there anything you’d like to ask Sandy about book publicity? Drop your question at this link and it might feature in our next column.