January 30, 2011

Writers' Conference Workshop--Publicity

I'm continuing with publishing the notes I took during the most recent San Diego Writers' Conference.  These are what I was able to grab--please be aware that the most benefit is obtained by coming to these conferences, but it's helpful for me to have these notes in one place where I can refer to them.  They are brief and abbreviated.  Okay, enough disclaimers for my transcribed hen-scratching.

The day started with me walking on the treadmill (trying to compensate for all this sitting, and the really good lunch from yesterday).  As I was leaving, I struck up a conversation with the woman behind me, an airline pilot who has been to two other conferences this year: one in Hawaii (can't remember the name), and the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference.  Both, she said, were great.  She was doing the elliptical the entire time, and I was impressed not only with her enthusiasm for her book (I wanted to buy it after talking to her) but also the fact she could keep going on her exercise.  Next in the room was Loretta Barrett, who was so wonderful in the Agents' Workshop on Friday.  We found out during the morning keynote speech this morning that she was instrumental in getting editors and agents from New York to this conference.  I, for one, am really grateful for her efforts, along with the efforts of the organizers.

One of the workshops I attended was one on publicity for the "frugal author," as she put it.  It was great; the notes follow.

Seven Tips for Publicity, by Paula Margulies

Big presses, indie presses, self-publishing
Even if you get advances—save the money—don't spend it all in order to save some for the ideas listed below.  Margulies is a publicist, and will assist authors in the following items.  Judging from her handouts, and the professional tips, I'd have to say that she would be a good one to hire to help sell the book.

Tip #1  Get Your Distribution Lined up Before You Start your Publicity

  •    Ingram, Baker & Taylor (two biggest distributors)—important to try and get one of these--660,000 books printed last year.  The bookstores go to these distributors and put in their order.  If you self-publish, you'll have to find your own distribution: Pathways, etc.
  •     Barnes & Noble, Borders—they have their own ordering systems—you have to work to get them (marketing plan, query letter, copies (1 or 2) of book) to take your book.  B & N has their own number  (BIN (?) number).  Print on Demand (POD)—a lot won't do the publicity.  You want to make sure there are copies.  Get your friends, family out there asking for copies.  Ask your publisher what they'll do for bookstores (percentage off list, return policy—talk them into doing it for you)
  •    Offset run/inventory vs. POD

Work with your publicist.  Do not list your book as Print on Demand (POD)!  List is as an offset run—they print a run, then store the books.  Reassure the bookstores that :"You can order directly from my publisher with a discount, and they take returns."

Tip#2  Have all your Promotional Material Ready Before Making Calls
This is your media kit.
·      Press Release.  An already-written article. Make your press release complete—so the journalist can take it and pop it into their newspaper.  Title of book, ISBN #, author, the five Ws 1H (Who, What, Why. . . ) are in the first paragraph.  The second paragraph is your "sell" paragraph.  This is where you talk about your book and why it sings.  Third paragraph is a quote from yourself—you want it to look like the newspaper has already interviewed you, like they've done the legwork.  Fourth paragraph is a one-paragraph bio—all about you, awards you've won, and so forth, but be succinct.  After that, contact information.  Use your own logo, or art artwork on your press release.  Keep the keywords (for internet free-release sites) in the title of the press release.  Most important document you can use—you can tweak your release to announce your reading event (in the first paragraph).  It's a living document, and you can change it as it goes.
·      Biography.  More than just a paragraph—where you grew up, what you majored in, where you went to school—anything that will give you a connection with the people you are talking to.
·      Professional head shot—either on your book (back cover) on inside flap.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Use a professional head shot!!  Don't use the amateur digital photo from the backyard on your book—nor the bedroom shot.
·      JPG of the book cover art
·      Website/blogsite devoted to your book—by the title, by the author's name?  No.  One website.  If you plan to write more than one book, then put up an author site, with links to the book sites.  Use SEOs if you want (for hire).  (Podcasts?)
Platform—be aware of what you bring to the table (e.g.: bookstores want the book, radio wants YOU.)  Before your book comes out, you want to establish yourself.

Tip #3  Book Appearances in Cities Where You Know People
·      Hometown, college town, first job, relatives, friends
·      Work your contacts with email, flyers, postcards, blogs, social networking sites, etc.
·      Work your niche! (e.g.: The Help)

Tip #4  Contact the Media After You've Set Up Your Tour
·      Use your booking as selling points with the media
·      Writer news release about each signing/appearance
·      Contact media 2-3 weeks prior to events.  Print press needs three weeks.  Radio/TV is quicker.  You're trying to drive traffic to your event.
·      Sell yourself, as well as your book
·      Six to eight months is your window, so work quickly

Tip #5:  View Every Phone Call As An Opportunity to Get Orders
Ask for event dates. and if they say no, then:
·      Ask if they'll order copies of your book
·      Offer compromises:
·      offer to bring in signed books
·      offer to consignment option
·      offer promotional material
·      If they have copies, offer to stop by and sign them.  (Get some signed-by author stickers.)

Tip #6: Think Outside the Bookstore Box
·      Consider signing at libraries, universities, community colleges, schools, clubs, professional organization, churches, etc. If you teach, make sure your book is in their bookstore.
·      Consider signing at venues related to your book's content
·      Ask friends and family for signing opportunities where they work, go to school, etc.
·      Consider venues where no author has gone before—be creative!

Tip #7: Be Professional With Everyone You Meet
·      Send follow-up and confirmation emails
·      Keep lists of scheduled dates aka "Events Schedule"
·      Send promotional material 2-3 weeks out
·      Contact media 2-3 weeks out
·      Show up on time, professionally dressed—Get a foam core display with an easel back, leave bookmarks, too.
·      Bring back up copies with you
·      Be courteous, even if the answer is "No"
·      Be persistent, but know when to say "Thank you" and move on
·      Send thank you notes afterward—mention managers, assistants, and staff who were helpful.  Emails and hand-written notes.

Bonus Tip:  Go Viral!
·      Optimize your website
·      Register with major search engines
·      Offer incentives, downloads and contests, etc.
·      Respond quickly to website email
·      Make payment process simple and easy
·      Write blog comments and guest blog
·      Puruse features on book review sites
·      Conduct virtual interviews on a number of blogs.

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