Support for the self-published author
Independent publishing is an exploding and ever changing industry, and so is public relations. As more and more authors find non-traditional ways to get their books to market, PR professionals must keep up on new trends – and find ways to adapt what they know to this highly personal market.
When working with self-published authors, the variety of authors and books demand that publicists be responsive, creative and flexible. Maintaining a large network of media and social media contacts and staying abreast of industry changes is certainly vital, but the most important avenue to success is in developing relationships with the authors.
Audit the Opportunities
From religion to politics, poetry to memoirs, children’s books to self-help manuals and historical non-fiction to fantasies, the variety of book genres is vast. And so are the opportunities to market/publicize/promote an author’s book. Don’t focus on the “negatives” (what if a reporter says they won’t even look at a self-published book?). Rather, audit all the opportunities available, assess the author’s goals and initiatives, and devise a plan specific to each author and his or her book.
Who would want to read this book? What can the book offer its readers? Why would someone find it enjoyable or helpful? How can we be sure to reach all the book’s potential audiences?
Cover all the Bases
First and foremost, identify the assets the author and book offer. This assessment should uncover “hooks” and “niche markets” and reveal many options to capitalize on them.
Is it the author’s knowledge of the book’s topic, his personality, or her background and expertise that’s going to make this book of interest? Is he or she readily available and able to do interviews, or is coaching needed?
What market-specific ties (hometown, colleges, etc.) does the author have? What hobbies and interests? Has the author published any other books?
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Whether it’s a basic press release distribution or an interview opportunity notice, traditional publicity and social media outreach, a tie to a current event, or guest speaking and blogging, a publicist can create and guide the author through an integrated marketing plan created specifically for them.
Does the author have any audio or video available that can be cross-collateralized across social media platforms and used to “tell the story” with traditional media? Does the author have a blog or a website?
Is there a call-to-action in the book’s topic (e.g., can they offer “tips” or “answers”)?
The Author is a Public, Too
Self-published authors have invested not only a great deal of time, but a lot of money and heart into turning their vision into an actual book. It’s a heady feeling to hold a bound publication you produced in your hands, so these authors are extremely proud of their work - as they should be. This also means, though, that they may have high expectations for how the book will be received by the media and the general public. Be sure to (kindly) manage those expectations every step of the way.
What are the author’s expectations/desires for coverage? How often should the author receive an update from you?
… and what About the Publicist?
Just as the publicist presents an author as an expert in a certain area, he or she must stay on top of industry changes and keep current with the tools needed to do the job effectively.
Besides reading industry publications and blogs daily, attend seminars (BlogIndiana), network and trade information at industry events (IndySMB, PRSA, Indianapolis Nonprofit Marketing & PR Group), participate in webinars (PRNewswire, Vocus), and join professional organizations (PRSA, IABC).
Invest in subscriptions to relevant publications (PR Week, Advertising Age, PRNewsonline.com); cutting-edge software for media list creation, distribution and measurement (Vocus); and various services as necessary (PRNewswire, FunctionFox).
Make sure you’re ready for the next chapter in the indie publishing industry.
Bohlsen Group offers organizations the best of both worlds: all the benefits of an independent agency – direct access to proven professionals, focused attention on needs and budget, creative solutions and quick responses – with the connections, resources and reach of a global PR company. Get to know us at bohlsengroup.com.