A Book Publicity Campaign is Only as Good as the Author’s Responsiveness

The inspiration for this article came from one of our current authors, Susan. She is a highly credentialed, successful businesswomen. In a conversation last week about plans for the next stage of her campaign, I thanked her for all her hard work. Her quick answers to her publicist’s questions, willingness to do all media interviews and bylined articles offered to her, and her proactive input about news stories related to her expertise has made her campaign extremely successful.

As publicists, our job is to entice the media to cover authors and their books in some way… feature stories, print or broadcast interviews, bylined articles, etc. With more than 800 books published each day in the United States alone, there is fierce completion for media attention. In order for an author to help us maximize their exposure, we recommend they take the same approach as Susan.

We make the initial connection with the media, but more often than not, it is up to the author to make the final and most important impression with the producer, host, editor, blogger or reporter. It is this interaction that turns a one line quote into a full feature story, one blog post into a regular blogging contract with a household name outlet, and one radio interview into multiple return invitations.

Here are six tips for authors to help maximize their publicity campaign:

1. Answer your publicist’s questions ASAP. When we need an author to answer a question related to a media inquiry, interview opportunity, expert commentary, etc. we need it ASAP. Reporters, bloggers, editors and producers are often working under tremendous pressure and deadlines. If a day (or even hours) goes by, the media will often reach out to the next person on the list and the author misses the chance for their placement.

2. Say yes to everything. When a publicist recommends a media opportunity to an author, if at all possible, the author should do it. One of past authors, an expert at negotiating with the IRS to determine payments/reduced fees, did a late night radio interview on a small station in the middle of North Dakota. One listener heard the interview, called the author and it turned into a $100,000 client.

3. Write the article, on time. If asked to write a bylined article (an article written by the author based on a topic related to his or her book), the author should again say yes when possible, research the target audience, follow the guidelines for length and style, and meet the deadline set by the editor. The articles are valuable because the author controls the content and message, and they are perfect for populating social media platforms, websites and marketing collateral.

4. Know your audience. Publicists will provide authors information about each interview. Before authors talk to a host, reporter, or editor, we recommend they research the outlet and person to further understand the listeners or readers, past work by the media professional, and the format of the print, broadcast or online outlet. The more authors know about their audience, the better focused the interaction will be.

5. Give your publicist feedback. Authors are the experts on their own topic. While publicists research and follow news trends that tie into an author’s work, the authors who excel are the ones who give their publicist ideas on angles and news stories that excite them and relate to their book or background. In Susan’s case, she has an unique opinion and point of view on a national breaking news story, which she shared with her publicist. Her publicist is in the process of setting up a national television segment about this hot topic.

6. Say thank you. As publicists, we always thank the media after they have featured one of our authors. Authors who stand out are the ones who send their own thank you email or handwritten note to those who have interviewed them. Everyone likes to be appreciated. This small gesture builds good will—and return invitations.

When authors are proactive, responsive, and prepared, it can turn a mediocre publicity campaign into a spectacular experience, with valuable exposure for the author that will last long after a campaign has ended.

Sandy Diaz is the President of Smith Publicity, Inc. Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity is one of the world’s leading promotional firms, specializing in book publicity. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, the company has worked with over 900 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and businesses representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international with offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. For more information about Smith Publicity, Inc., please visit www.smithpublicity.com.