Whether you’ve been an author for ten years, ten months, or ten weeks, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that the competition is tough. One of the most frustrating things is learning that a fellow author, who is equally as competent as you, sells millions of copies of books while you have difficulty moving a mere thousand off the shelves. The difference is that the well-known authors have mastered the art of “top of mind awareness,” and they use it to jump start their career at every available opportunity.
Because readers want the most up-to-date and reliable information, they often look beyond the author’s current best-seller. Instead they scrutinize the author’s reputation and credentials and use these factors to make their final buying decision. This is where top of mind awareness comes in.
What exactly is top of mind awareness and how does it affect your book? Top of mind awareness is when people think of you first to fulfill their needs. It’s when magazines quote you and publish your articles, and when radio and TV shows feature you as a guest expert. It’s when readers say, “I’ve seen your book everywhere.” But most important, it’s when people buy your book because they know your name and perceive you as a leader.
Those authors who effectively use publicity to gain top of mind awareness not only sell more books and gain greater credibility, but they also develop name recognition and stand out in the eyes of their readers. Here’s how the pros use publicity to gain top of mind awareness and jump start their career.
1. Write articles
How many times have you opened a magazine or newspaper only to find a fellow author quoted in an article or featured as a guest author? Even worse, how many times could you have commented on the same topic or written a better article? These savvy authors know the importance of writing articles and having magazines, trade journals, and newspapers publish them. Why not follow their lead?
Getting published in a magazine or trade journal is an excellent way to become perceived as an expert. Articles allow you reach hundreds of thousands of people for free, and you’ll receive the same amount of clout as other more well-known authors. Additionally, you can reprint your published articles and use them as promotional items. When readers see you in numerous magazines, they’ll consider you an industry leader and will want to buy your book. Regardless of your topic, you undoubtedly have plenty of ideas you could write about. Make your articles stand out by emphasizing something unique and giving the readers useful information they can implement today.
2. Make phone calls to editors, reporters, and producers
A simple phone call can often lead to a wealth of publicity opportunities. By talking with editors, reporters, or producers, you can learn exactly what they need and can customize your message for their audience. When these decision makers learn that your information could benefit their readers, and thereby increase their ratings, they’ll want to feature you as a guest expert or featured author.
Before you talk with an editor or producer, have an idea for an article or show topic. As you present your topic, ask questions such as, “What are your readers (or listeners or viewers) looking for?” “What are you looking for?” and “What angle do you want the story to take?” Make changes to your initial idea based on the answers you get. Don’t try to “sell” them on your original topic if it is not an ideal fit; instead, promote alternate ideas and stress your ability to address multiple issues. If you receive a “no” response, ask, “What don’t you like,” and then adapt your presentation on the spot. The more you learn about their needs and customize your message for their audience, the more likely you are to be featured in their publication or on their show.
3. Send fax outs and mail outs
Sometimes you’ll have an idea or promotional piece you’ll need to get out to a large group of people in a short amount of time. In these instances, fax and/or mail outs are ideal. They’re quick, easy, and convenient ways to target key people who can get you the most publicity.
Successful authors fax or mail a variety of items, including press releases, upcoming book releases, newly published articles, and anything else that can get them publicity. To use your faxing efforts effectively, watch the breaking news for stories that fit in with your topic. Then, fax a press release to newspapers offering your take as an expert to interview on the situation. Since mail outs take a little longer to receive a response on, send information that isn’t as pressing, such as a sampling of your articles or some topic that would benefit the organization or publication. Editors and producers will call you to get the whole story, to interview you for a story they are currently writing, or to speak with you on ways you can customize your message to a particular group. The key is to target your message and keep your name in the forefront.
Top of mind awareness is the key to a writing career. By implementing the above suggestions into your publicity efforts, you can gain the recognition that leads to greater book sales. Before you know it, everyone you speak to will enthusiastically exclaim, “I see your book everywhere!”
Pam Lontos is owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers, authors, and experts. Having been an author, speaker, and former VP of Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting good you publicity and how to use it to really boost your business. Call for a free consultation at (407) 299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at www.prpr.net.