Almost everyone considers themselves to be a writer. Those who most appreciate the art will define it as a means of connecting to oneself, to others, to reality and to fantasy. This definition excludes no one. The book business, unfortunately, does. Industry experience teaches that every writer is not an author, and the difference between the two is a matter of business. Your manuscript– your baby– is a work of art. Try to sell it, though, and the colors fade to black and white. Your art has become a product, part of a business transaction.
The ideal time to launch a media campaign is three months prior to your date of publication. To win the public’s attention, prioritize your book’s marketability from the very start. Below are publicity tips to keep in mind during the early stages of the writing process:
1. Write down your goal and reason for writing the book. Will it take a spot on the New York Times bestseller list to satisfy you? Or, would you be pleased if only friends and family read your book? Now read what you’ve written. If your goal is unrealistic you’ll know it. If it is attainable, proceed, but re-read your goal periodically throughout the writing process to stay on track.
2. Know your audience. Decide which readers you are writing for, and connect with them personally. Create a network of readers who represent your target market and involve them in the writing process. Run ideas by them; ask for suggestions or advice. Not only will you receive valuable input, you will have their guaranteed readership once the book is published.
3. Know your competition. Know why and how your book is different from the others in circulation. Embrace and accentuate that which makes your book unique.
4. Learn the path of distribution. Talk to veteran writers. Consult a publicist. Knowing what to expect is helpful when focusing on the task at hand.
5. Remember that the promotion and marketing of books is very competitive and should be seen as a business. Accept well-intended advice and criticism, even if it is not what you want to hear. Everything you do now is an investment in your writing career.
6. Scan hot topics in popular culture. Media are more likely to pay attention to non-fiction books. Keep in mind, though, that a trendy topic will date your book, limiting future sales.
7. Find a good publicist. Help them help you. While media relations won’t take effect until the book is finished, a publicist can foresee the marketability of your preliminary ideas and advise you accordingly.
A Nineteenth Century journalist noted, “If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers.” Then and now, words don’t come with price tags and book sales don’t resemble art. It doesn’t take publicity to write, but it takes publicity to be read. Please share your words. Be a writer and an author.
Marika Flatt owns PR by the Book (www.prbythebook.com). You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. PR by the Book publicizes books of most genres, national speakers and products.