The Power of Book Publicity for Authors

For indie authors who are balancing writing and revising with trying to build a marketing plan, it can be daunting to find time to research how different strategies can work for their books.


Often, social media and email marketing get priority because authors have seen other authors utilize both platforms to build their audiences and they embrace that both options have a low barrier to entry and are within their abilities to learn.


Public relations, however, often gets overlooked. And that is power to reach new audiences, build name recognition, raise brand awareness and build reputations as best-selling global industry leaders that authors are neglecting.


Why is PR So Powerful?


Public relations, or PR, as it’s known, is the most cost-effective way to build 3rd party credibility for your books and your reputation as an author. Why? Because public relations will help you extend the awareness of your books and your work as an author beyond your own online audiences through storytelling and relationship building.


Sharing the story of your book with the media and building those relationships increases your credibility because the platforms have credibility, which then extends to you. The media are not a part of your audience, nor are they your friends or your family, and you’re not paying them to feature you.


They choose to support your books and you as an author because they find the stories you’ve created compelling. They love the books you’ve written and they want to learn more about what inspired the stories and why and how you write. By sharing your book and your author's journey with the media, you increase the likelihood of raising brand awareness and growing your audiences on an international scale, which will increase sales and help you build your reputation as a best-selling author.


The power of public relations comes from the strategy you build to pitch the story of your book and your author's journey to the right people in the media, building positive relationships with them that can elevate your books to international recognition.


How You Build Your PR Strategy Will Depend on Your Goals


Public relations is actually the umbrella term for several sub-categories that fit under PR. To determine which area you want to build your strategy in, you need to get crystal clear with your goals.


The areas under public relations include but are not limited to: earned media (media relations), crisis communications, thought leadership, events/business development, and paid media.


So when you look 3 months, 6 months, or a year down the road, what are your specific goals? Exactly how many books do you want to sell in 3 months? Do you want to present your own workshops or be featured on panels at different industry conferences? Do you want to do author signings at bookstores across the world and live readings at libraries and other venues?


Remember, the strategy you build will reflect your goals. When you’re first starting out, it’s much easier to build a strategy focusing on one specific category for your goals. It breaks strategy building down into bite-sized chunks.


If presenting workshops and being featured at major writing/publishing conferences is your goal because you want to build your reputation as a knowledgeable author and industry leader, then you need to start with thought leadership. You build a thought leadership strategy from the ground up by first researching what industry sites, blogs, and newsletters offer guest posting opportunities for you to share your experiences and processes (whether it’s on writing, editing, or publishing) with their audiences. The more posts you write, the more you’re building yourself a foundation as a leader with insights a conference will book because they believe their audiences can learn from you.


If you want to sell more books and do live signings and readings, then building a media relations strategy can help spread awareness of your books and you as an author through interviews and reviews. The readers you want to reach will be listening to those podcast interviews, reading those blog reviews, and watching those IG Lives and videos.


If you’re looking to be invited to speak at more events, as well as festivals to develop more of your business, then leaning into the themes of your book and developing relationships with industry associations, groups and more can help you expand your reputation and spread awareness of your book to new audiences.


Once you’re clear on your goals and the strategy you want to build to help achieve them, then it’s a matter of connecting with the right people in the media through research and development of the pitch that will connect them to your story.


The Art of the Compelling Story Pitch


Developing a story pitch that will generate responses comes down to three elements: 1) What's the synopsis of your book that makes it unique? 2) Why are you an author/How do you do it? 3) And can you describe both of these elements in an elevator pitch between 200-300 words?


Getting media attention means positioning your book and your author's journey to answer the question, 'What makes your story unique enough that our audiences will care?' In answering this question, you want to avoid writing a pitch the length of an academic essay because you want to entice that reporter, that podcaster, or that writer to email you for a coverage opportunity, not turn them off.


So how do you go about positioning your book and your author's journey? Get introspective and start brainstorming about why you became an author and why you wrote your book. Who or what inspired you? What was the journey you undertook to become an author? Why did you believe it was important to incorporate certain themes in your book? What are the messages behind some of those themes that you want audiences to know and have discussions about? What do you want audiences to take away from your book?


The more you brainstorm the answers to these questions, the more you build the backbone of an effective story pitch.


The more you refine that pitch, the more concise and compelling it will be. The details you can't find room for in the pitch will form the foundation for your media kit.


The media kit is the complete promotional package that will fill in the gaps in your pitch, giving the media a more complete picture of your book and who you are. It features your author bio, high-resolution headshot and candid photos, images of your book, the full book synopsis, and a Q&A for them to learn about your thoughts and feelings on the book.


Creating an engaging media kit to back up your compelling story pitch forms a complete package that will intrigue and encourage the media to reach out to you for interviews and other media opportunities.


Connecting With the Right People


Once you have your pitches and media kit in order, it’s time to start looking for the right people to connect with. In the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with authors I’ve worked with, this question comes up most often. How do I find the right people when I don’t know where to start looking?


Here’s how you can start building a framework for media contact research: focus on your genre.


Every book has one, after all, whether it’s romance, horror, sci-fi/fantasy, crime thriller, or memoir. When you start your media contact research, focusing on your genre will open up a wealth of media contacts, from book reviewers and podcasts to online sites, blogs and radio shows that want to learn more about your book. Starting with your genre gives you the opportunity to reach fans of that genre where they spend their time–and starting in genre media is a gentler way for you to get comfortable with pitching, preparing, and practicing for interviews, reviews, live events, and more.


Once you’ve gotten the hang of genre-specific media, you can expand to local, and then international media that has supported other authors or books in your genre.


In addition to pitching your book for reviews, you have an opportunity to share your author’s journey in interviews as well. Sharing your experiences, knowledge, insights, and advice as an author will help to inspire and educate aspiring writers as well as fellow authors. After all, knowledge is power and inside your experience may be processes, tips, tools, and platforms that other authors don’t know about, so sharing that knowledge will help strengthen the industry and position you as a knowledgable expert.


Outside of your genre, there are opportunities to increase media outreach by leaning into the themes of your book. Do you have a focus on mental health, sobriety, substance abuse, LGBTQIA+ characters, and different forms of relationships (polyamory, etc.)? It might surprise you to learn that this is a sector for outreach that most authors overlook. You can expand your outreach by developing relationships with industry associations, groups, and non-profit organizations that support areas related to the themes of your book. It is a chance for you to build rapport with industry professionals, establish your book as a must-read in these industries and reach an entirely new audience through guest posts, interviews, live events, and collaborations.


Once you get the hang of breaking your media contact research into bite-sized chunks to fulfill your goals for one strategy, you can combine different strategies and say, focus on both media relations and thought leadership for one campaign. But starting on a smaller scale gives you the opportunity to pace yourself, to get comfortable, and to start smarter by mastering PR for your genre, before expanding to national and international media.


Meet Lilian Sue

Lilian Sue is a longtime PR coach and publicist dedicated to empowering authors to gain the confidence to push past limiting beliefs and learn how to launch their own successful PR campaigns using the right tools. Through her strategic coaching program, coaching intensives, and brand new self-paced hybrid PR course, I empower authors to gain the confidence to learn how to develop their own successful PR campaigns. Coaching them on how to develop strong & healthy PR mindsets (and busting down fear & imposter syndrome) and how to use the right tools, knowledge, and resources to fulfill their goals, and seeing them reach their fullest potential, having the confidence to conquer interviews and grow is why she loves doing publicity.


Connect with her at www.inretrospectwritingservices.com

and https://in-retrospect-marketing-academy.thinkific.com/

or on Twitter:@LSue23 and Instagram: @liliansuecopywriterpr

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