Friday, May 31, 2013

Publicity Professionals Enhance The Author Persona


Sharon BiallyToday's Repost originally appeared on Writers Unboxed on 3/10/2013

 The Bad PR Hangover (and How To Avoid IT) by Sharon Bially

Over the past few months I’ve spoken to two authors who’d signed with the same, well-reputed PR firm for a book launch campaign, paid a considerable amount of money and then…nothing. Barely a review or author interview to show for the firm’s initial promises and excitement.

It also brings to light something that absolutely has to change: Many – possibly most? – authors simply have no idea what they should look for when hiring a PR firm. Nor do they know what’s “normal” or what they should expect from this relationship.

So here’s my laundry list of must-haves in determining whether the firm you hire to publicize your book is up to par, and in understanding whether it’s doing (or will do) what it should for you:
1. Set reasonable expectations up front. A good PR firm will not sell you promises, ensuring you that it can get you into Oprah or The New York Times, for example. In fact, the publicist you work with should explain, up front, what you can potentially expect from your campaign – and what you cannot.
2. A detailed work plan. Going into a campaign, you know what you want: news and reviews! But how is your publicist going to accomplish this? He or she should be able to tell you, step by step, what the execution plan is. Personally, I like to include this in a work schedule so the timing of each step is clear.
3. Accessibility. Sure, publicists are busy. Isn’t everyone? But your publicist should be available to answer any questions and concerns you have within a reasonable timeframe. For me, this means about 24 hours, unless a heads-up about being unavailable for some period has been given.
4. Regular updates. You should expect regular updates from your publicist about the status of the work plan, and – once the pitching phase begins – what reactions he or she is getting from the media. Your publicist should be able to tell you who’s potentially interested in covering you, who’s not, and when possible, why.
5. Press clips. When a review of your book comes out, an interview of you airs or an article is published (all of which are called “press clips”), your publicist should send you the link or – if necessary — tell you how to order print reprints. He or she should also know at all times what clips you have coming down the pipeline.
6. Open communications. Nothing about your campaign is proprietary or secret, whether we’re talking about press lists or the reasons reporters might give for declining coverage. After all, it is your campaign. Your publicist should be willing to share lists of your press contacts, copies of any written materials used in your campaign, and anything else you ask for.
7. General guidance. Less obvious but just as important in my opinion, your publicist should willingly offer you advice about steps related to but not included in your campaign. For example: what do you do with all those press clips once you have them? (See my post on that here.) What should guest blog posts that you’re asked to write be about? Have you done a great job writing them, or could they use a few tweaks? What marketing initiatives that you can take on your own have you overlooked?

Thank You Sharon! 

Check out - Book Savvy Public Relations for more information regarding the next stage of your career. Sharon Bially is the founder of Book Savvy Public Relations and author of the novel Veronica's Nap.

Also review: 
Post Traumatic Publicity Disorder - More Tips to Avoid a Bad PR Hangover Experience as posted on Writers Unboxed 3/21/2013; Contributed by Crystal Patriarche, founder of BookSparksPR, a full-service boutique PR agency that provides strategic public relations and book publicity support, social media, branding, marketing, and consulting to authors - from digital campaigns to traditional media.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Two Genres, One Promotional Piece

Morgan here with a Field Report from the 2013 RT Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, MO.

During the Samhain Safari reception, Gina Fluharty and I literally bumped into Nikki Duncan.  Nikki not only won me over with her charming and FUN personality, she also handed me a GREAT piece of marketing!  Since she writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense, she created one double sided, oversized postcard to promote both of her genres.

The lighter side of Nikki Duncan!

Here's what makes this piece stand out from the PILE of collateral I received at RT:
  • It is a well executed piece!  Notice how the color pallet for the 'contemporary' side is composed of light colors.  A flirty shot of female legs provides the base graphic, which suggests that Nikki's stories 'pack some heat.'  The font on this side is footed with soft edges and utilizes a cursive 'k.'  The 'suspense' side uses a dark, but warm pallet.  The font has a harder edge, no curves or swirls, and is unfooted.  The base graphic is a close up of a male character defiantly staring directly at you.  Note that both base graphics are cropped, close-ups of Nikki's covers - great recycle, reuse in action!
  • The QR Code takes you directly to the BUY page for her latest releases on her website.
  • Her name appears on the card 21 times!!
  • Though she is relaying a ton of information by including each of her covers, the overall piece doesn't feel cluttered or overwhelming.  The covers and graphics speak for themselves, no catch phrases or other text is needed.  Any additional text would have detracted from her "BUY MY BOOKS, if you like contemporary or suspense" message.  And the reader now has an illustrated guide to find all of her books.
  • Her contact information is on both sides.
The darker side of Nikki Duncan!
I asked Nikki why she lists all of her contact information (Website, Twitter, and Facebook) on her cards, instead of only listing her website. Her answer was simple, with the advent and pervasiveness of smart phones, her readers want to immediately link with her.  Some (me included) used the Twitter and Facebook smart phone apps to connect with her instantly...some even while chatting with her.  (Yup, that last part was me!)  For Nikki, this is a KEY point because her Twitter and Facebook names are "NDuncanWriter" not "Nikki Duncan."  Note that her website is still at the top of the list and shows more of Nikki's social media activities and ways to contact her that are not listed. She only listed the three contacts, with valid reasons, that relate to how she likes to connect with readers.

Remember, all your promotional materials are to entice interest in you from readers, who have their social media preferences but also buy a variety of book genres.  Urban fantasy can attract some sci-fi readers and vice versa.  The same can be said for mystery and suspense, contemporary and women's fiction, etc.  Erotica and young adult DO NOT MIX when producing your marketing collateral. However, American Westerns and Regency Romps can be cross-promoted.  

I will be sure to post more of my marketing adventures at RT in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Promotion from a Publicist’s Perspective

 Jessica Glenn
Welcome to Jessica Glenn 
of MindBuck© Media Book Publicity

This article was created specifically for you, Our Readers! We've chosen to focus on the 101 level of marketing - with Finer Points to carry you through your career. 

Jessica's message is from the 501 level.

Book Promotion from a Publicist’s Perspective

If you’re working with a publisher, you might have noticed that everything in publishing from finding an agent, to submissions to acceptance to editing to interior design to cover design seems to be measured in eons rather than days or weeks. I hate to break it to you, dear writer, but book publicity relies on the same geologically based calendar.

Whether you are releasing your book through a publishing house or self-publishing, you need at least four months with the advanced review copies (ARCs) in your publicist’s hot little hands before the book release date to have the best coverage for critical reviews. The reason for this inefficient seeming system is that in order for reviews, interviews and news items to be optimum PULL marketing strategies, they have to be newsworthy in some way.

There is a reason you don’t see a lot of Charlotte Bronte books reviewed by critical newspaper reviewers. Unless a book is externally newsworthy (celebrating an important anniversary, referential for a political reason, etc), it’s not going to be news. And, when an older book is news, it’s not reviewed, it’s connected in the context of an interview or other mention. For fiction, being newsworthy is a whole lot harder than it is for non-fiction. In fact, the prime newsworthy element of a fiction book is that is has been published. Period.

With this in mind, nearly all reviewers want to review a book around the time of the book release in order to be doing the literary equivalent of the journalistic “scooping a story.” Review outlets (Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, BookPage, Library Journal, etc), receive a lot of books and need a minimum of 3-4 months with the book in order to decide if they want to review it, assign a reviewer, have the reviewer read it and then review it, send it to the editor and format it into the publication.

What this means to a writer is that all of the work of writing, editing, formatting, etc. must be done about 5 or 6 months before the book release. I strongly caution all of you to not rush the release date however tempting, because you could sabotage your chance to publicize your book with little chance to make up the difference in critical reviews after the release.

In terms of the advice that marketing is a marathon rather than a sprint, I would somewhat disagree when it comes to traditional publicity. It’s more like a loooong sprint! Most important to remember, traditional publicity is over after the book is released. After the book release authors do their previously scheduled book readings and signings combined with publicity aimed to target the news of the events rather than to generate reviews.

All that said, web 2.0 media is fair game for continued promotion post book release. While personally, I like to see most of the blogger reviews around the same time as the book release, it’s great to keep getting your book mentioned by new blogger reviewers each month. Some of the best internet promotions I’ve seen are as follows:
  • Goodreads giveaway contest. This is free other than the books you are contributing and the contest generates a ton of reader interest. 
  • Focused release day internet push. Make your release day an international event on FB, google+ and other social media sites and invite people and follow up with them. 
  • Buy Day. A couple of weeks after your book release, organize a Buy Day. The idea is to spike sales rankings and create a post release event. To do it, send a message to all of your contacts with a simple, specific request such as “Please post this link to my book on your facebook on Oct 28th saying that it’s Buy Day and encourage people to share.” Don’t ask for this more than once or it will quickly become ineffective. 
  • Kindle Nation. Kindle Nation is not connected to Amazon and features free and new Kindle releases. You can sponsor these posts for around $150-$300. It usually causes at least a bit of a rankings spike and you can do it a month or so after release. 
  • KDP Select. I realize that Amazon is a polarizing company in the publishing world, but if you chose to use the Kindle Select program, you agree to have your ebook exclusively on Amazon (not B&N or iTunes) for 90 days. In turn they promote you and there is a 3-5 day free book giveaway period. If you time the free 3 days to around 2 or 3 months after your release release, you can get a last engineered spike in rankings. 
It is possible to organize all of the above internet strategies in advance of the release. I would suggest authors do that so at the time of the release authors are focused on their book tours, topical interviews and... the next book!
From Therese & Morgan: We recommend that you research hiring a Publicist when you have A Deserving Novel and are professionally ready to boost your career to the next level.  If you should choose to hire a Publicist, take your time and find a service that fits your needs....and Never Forget that they work for You!

What Does A Publicist Do?

Book Publicity Services - MindBuck Media is your full service, primary public relations representative for authors, books and publishers.
1. Goal development
2. Branding
3. Buzz strategies
4. TV placements
5. Radio placements
6. Print review placements
7. Blogger review placements
8. Website Content
9. Ad Copy
10. Social Media
11. Mailing services
12. Event coordination
13. Book reading tours
14. Awards applications, Wikki materials, etc
15. Multimedia mashups
16. Book Trailers

Manuscript Services - MindBuck Media gets deserving manuscripts out to the world
1. Read manuscripts and give marketing feedback
2. Supervise editing process (plus cover, design and interior design process if needed)
3. Develop target market, marketing and publicity plan
5. Publisher, reviewer, online reviewer, editor, agent and author introductions
6. Quality blurb acquisition
7. Complimentary publisher queries
8. Mailing services
9. Publishing consultation

MindBuck     Marketing Services

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Flexible Persona for the Hybrid Author

The debate over whether to publish via Traditional, Indie, Digital, Print, or Self has ebbed and flowed over time.  In fact, authors are now encouraged to have a HYBRID publishing career strategy. Don't You just LUV how fast the advice changes?

An author can write in multiple genres under the same name but a "Hybrid" author publishes in multiple formats, through numerous publishers (Big Five or independently), and still only has one Author Persona with one website. This phenomenon is not new.  Nora Roberts has worked with numerous publishers. Her J.D. Robb pseudonym was created for a different genre of books, However, her publisher was not going to give up the loyal Nora Roberts readership. This gave readers the choice to BUY both genres, knowing they are written by the same author. Jayne Ann Krentz is also Jane Castle, and Amanda Quick.  Her readers are now loyal to all three pseudonyms.

A SEPARATE PERSONA is only needed if you write books/stories that should not be cross-promoted to readers.  For example: erotic novels should not be cross-promoted with YA or inspirational books. You can also choose unique pseudonyms to differentiate your Sci-Fi-Vampire-Bunny heroes written by Persona #1 from your kick-butt-heroine series written by your Persona #2. But having separate names, identities, and websites is only important for how you connect with readers who BUY your books. It has nothing to do with HOW THEY ARE PUBLISHED.

And, no matter how Hybrid or Green you may be - Authors need to market and promote their books to readers who BUY. To find those readers, review our PERSONA PAGE. We were delighted to see some of those same points for finding readers posted at Passive Voice (3/17/2013) as reposted via Robert Bidinotto (3/17/2013)
1. Narrowly define your target reader audienceDo they share a demographic profile (age, sex, ethnicity, background, etc.)? What are their values and interests? Who are their heroes? Write a profile of your “ideal reader.”
2. Next, find out where they hang out. What books and magazines do they read? What movies do they like? What online sites do they frequent? What groups to they belong to? Compile lists of these things; you’ll want to target them later.
3. Now, think like that reader in all aspects of your marketing. No, this doesn’t mean pandering to readers as a writer. But in every marketing decision and action, ask yourself: How would this be perceived by my target reader? Never view marketing decisions as aspects of your artistic self-expression. Marketing is simply the effective communication of values. It means connecting your work with the values and interests of your targeted customer.
. . . .
6.  Don’t be dull! Carefully craft compelling promotional copy on your Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online product pages.
From Therese & Morgan: The Author Persona is you, a professional writer selling books to readers. The Hybrid Author is a terms used by editors, agents, and publishers who want to ride the wave of your success with another and/or different distribution channel. We recommend considering all channels to boost your career!  Also note that the more Personas you have, the more websites, social media, and marketing work you have to do.  Each Persona will need a home base (website) and means for contact (email and/or social media).  So be mindful of your career strategy and required time investment.

We hope you review the original linked articles, as written, and the reader comments as there are multiple viewpoints and suggestions!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Persona Time vs. Writer Time

As requested, we produced an article called:
Top 10 Marketing No’s-No’s for Authors posted at The Editor Devil on April 15th.
Our final point is: NO Using Marketing and Promotions as an EXCUSE that you are too busy to WRITE. ONLY 10% of your writing time should be used for marketing and promotions. Remember, you are a writer FIRST and great books will keep your readers coming back for more!
This advice has often made authors pause and now we want to clarify this primary message.

You're a writer/author. You write. This is your art, skill, talent, training. You produce books, articles, and stories, to inform and entertain your audience. How you do that requires lots of time. This is your primary work, joy, obsession. Being a writer will include certain rituals (music, candles, chocolate, power stones, meditation, and pink fuzzy bunny slippers) and That Place where you go to write. All of this "writer stuff" is very individual. Some plot, some fly by the seat of their pants. Your WRITER TIME is the primary part of your business as an author.

Your PERSONA TIME is for when you are Doing Business As An Author. This is your public presence as a professional business person. This is who you are when you are not writing.

Doing business as an author is very important and requires a lot of time and some project management skills. Doing business includes reviewing industry information so you can make good choices regarding your career. Doing business includes all correspondence (email and networking), financial details, office work, tools maintenance, sales analysis, and meetings with others. Doing Business As An Author also includes a PERSONAL LIFE. (Remember that?)

If you are a Full Time Author doing 40 hours of work per week on your Author Business then consider a balance of 20-30 hours as Writer Time. Then 10-20 hours are Doing Business as your Author Persona. The variation in hours per week will depend on calendar fluctuations as promoting new releases requires more Persona Time and a public presence. Initiating a new book project requires you to be in That Place as a Writer with all your rituals and comforts.

As a Writer you can indulge in inflammatory remarks and all manner of socially unacceptable behavior. It's RECOMMENDED to create conflict and drama, lie, cheat, steal, stab, kick, and in some places - drop F-bombs or destroy planets. As an Author Persona, any of the above will land you in jail and though some have attained publishing contracts in that way we do not recommend it, even snark and sass needs to be presented in a professional manner.

To qualify, in terms of that 40 hour week, 4 hours of that is devoted to your Marketing Plan, donning your Author Persona, and stepping forth as a Professional Author engaging with others to enhance your business.
For more on the topic of Doing Business tasks as an Author:
You Have To Leave the Comfort of your Computer (4/22/2013) as Scott Eagan breaks this topic down into Professional Networking, Creative Networking, and Marketing.
Another aspect of the Author Persona to consider is Estrangement in the Social Media Era (4/22/2013) as Nathan Bransford experienced a divorce, that got public attention, while he was active in Social Media. (There are many of these examples!)

An Author is both a Writer and a Public Persona. Not everyone in your personal life will admire both, but when you find a balance that works for you, have fun with it.