Top Publicity Tips For Authors
By Helen Lewis, co-founder of The Author School and Director at Literally PR Ltd
I am regularly asked what authors should think about and most importantly, what they should spend their time doing, before their book is officially released. There are so many things to consider that publicity often gets left off the list. Sometimes people think that publicity is beyond their reach, or that they don’t need it, or that it’s only for celebrities and international bestsellers. The truth is there are some things that ALL authors should do – if you’re published by a traditional publisher you can’t rely on your publisher to do these things for you. You need to take control for yourself. One author told me that she learned so much from working with Literally PR the first time round she’s going to start on the publicity and marketing before she’s finished the sequel, and then engage us to represent her at least four months before the book is released. This is music to my ears! So, this is not an exhaustive list but it certainly provides actionable to-dos that you can incorporate into your schedule (ideally as soon as you’ve written the first draft).
Change your mindset. Stop thinking of the book as your baby and start treating it as a business. This is particularly applicable for self-published authors who are essentially taking on the dual role of author and publisher. However, for traditionally published authors it is also vital that you separate yourself from your book as an emotional piece of you and regard it as the business it really is. That is, if you want to sell your product!
Pick a favourite social media channel. Get yourself a favourite social media channel and work it! Personally, I find Twitter and LinkedIn to be the most effective for my business and Facebook for my personal life, but everyone is different. Create accounts; connect with as many of the ‘right’ people as possible (look at someone who is similar to you or who you aspire to and see who they’re following). Put your own voice out there. It’s fine to line up some automated tweets i.e. excerpts of your book, snippets of reviews, that sort of thing, but we want to get to know you, we want to hear about what you’re reading, what’s happening with your book, who you have seen etc. But, of course, it needs to have some relevance, in the majority, to your book and your ‘author brand’. What do you want to be known for? Writing about having a cup of tea or popping to the shops isn’t that interesting…think about who you’re talking to.
Get yourself on Goodreads. Set up an author page, write reviews for other authors’ books, connect with reviewers and bloggers who like your sort of genre/style and start offering books for competition prizes as soon as you can. Offer them internationally if you can – for the sake of a postage stamp to the US you can increase your reach significantly.
Make your book easy to find. Get your book on Nielsen and make sure you’ve populated as much metadata as you can. If you don’t, your book won’t be found by librarians and book buyers in shops. If your book has been published traditionally, make sure your details are fully up-to-date on Nielsen and offer your publisher as much info as they need. Design an author website (Squarespace is good) or pay someone clever to create one for you. Good author websites include: http://www.gretchenrubin.com/ and http://www.rachel-abbott.com/
Forward-planning for the press. Start approaching the press a minimum of three months before the book is due for publication and please, please, don’t just start with ‘here’s a new book coming out’… Journalists get thousands of emails like this each week and don’t even open them. You have to consider your unique marketing and sales points - make yourself and your book media-friendly, unique and interesting!