Here’s one of the things you can control in your book campaign.
One of the most challenging elements for an author regarding book publicity is understanding what you can and can’t control, and then acting appropriately.
The list of variables in a campaign is long, but rather than trying to cover all of them, here is a list of the ones that are the most important:
Here’s what you can control:
- Creating and developing compelling ideas.
- Getting them in front of the right people.
- Pitching your ideas at the right time, e.g., a BBQ story in the summer or around the Fourth of July vs. doing it during Back to School, or the holidays
- Believing in yourself and your book, and projecting that belief
Here’s what you can’t control:
- What media does with it
- If or when media will pick it up.
- The timing of when they may cover it.
- If they will respond to you
- Whether or not they like your book and your ideas.
- If they notify you that they’re covering it or when it goes live.
- Whether they tell you why if they tell you no.
Today we’re going to focus on one of the variables that is totally under your control: creating and developing great ideas and getting them in front of the right people. You can’t control if and when media uses your ideas, and this is hard for many people to come to terms with. But the better you do at getting good ideas in front of the right people, the greater your chance at success
In an open world where you can see how much visibility and exposure others are getting, it can be frustrating when you don’t think you’re getting as much attention (although you might be), or you’re not in the top-tier outlets yet (and you think you should be), and you wonder, “Why not me? Why not now? I should be getting more than so-and-so. My book is better.” That may be true, but, again, there are so many variables you can’t control. Plus, we can’t always judge accurately how well we’re doing, or how well others are doing.
You can pitch. You can follow up. And follow up. And follow up. (Although, remember, there is a line between being persistent and being pesky: be sure you know the difference!)
When you believe in your work and every day you’re stating your goals and taking action towards them, it can be hard when a media person says no, or worse, just ignores you. I get it. It happens.
I could easily blow smoke here and tell you with the right mindset, and if you just imagine it often enough, it will happen, but it’s better for me to prepare you for what you will encounter. You will hear no more often than you will hear yes.
Focus on yes
The trick is to focus on the yesses and let the nos just roll off your back. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s a learned skill. You didn’t learn to ride a bike the first time you tried either, so learning how to let rejections roll off of you is something that takes a little practice. If you’re doing your own publicity, you’ll have plenty of opportunities.
Remember: Someone else’s “no” doesn’t mean anything about your work and your book. I have worked with some amazing authors who were absolutely convinced everyone would love their book, cover it, and book the interview. All they had to do was see the cover, or just read it. Many did love the book, but not everyone, and it was a real eye-opened for these authors to learn this.
No just means, for whatever reason, it isn’t right for them. It could be timing. It could be the media person just isn’t excited about your topic. It could be any number of things, most of which have nothing to do with you. Move on. Do not get all hung up on understanding why, or worse, doubting your work.
When it comes to pitching great ideas, what I am listening for, and so are you, is YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes. It is the sweetest word in the English language, and part of the reason is because we’ve heard “no” a few too many times along the way. When that “yes” is heard, well, it’s time for a mini-celebration. It’s what makes the yesses so much fun.
You control the creation and development of great ideas.
You have control of getting your fabulous ideas in front of the right people. But you can’t control what they do with them: whether they delete it, ignore you, or decide to interview you.
There’s an old saying in sales that applies here. “When you hear no, in your mind you should be hearing the word, NEXT! And move on.” Some people in sales would probably tell you to try and convince the person otherwise, but I have found that doesn’t work. Just come up with a better idea that they will say yes to. Much better.
If you continue doing publicity for your book or books, then you will have the good fortune of going back to media folks you’ve worked with before. That is how relationships are built, and you want to nourish them. Eventually, you may develop a list of media folks who often say yes to you because they trust that you will always bring them good ideas. This is invaluable.
Approach each media person as a potential long-term friend. I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but you would be surprised how many authors have been rude, entitled, and blow off interviews. (None of my clients, of course. I’ve heard stories from other publicists.) Don’t be one of them.
One other thing. As you’re pitching your ideas, be aware of the current news cycle. If there is a breaking story, you don’t want to be pitching something completely unrelated because you will look like you’re clueless.
For example, if, God forbid, another massive shooting takes place, you don’t want to pitch a story about how to be mindful, or how to create and build a team. There are exceptions, of course. If you are pitching a niche outlet that doesn’t cover news, you’re probably going to be OK. But be sensitive to this because the person you’re approaching may be very much involved in the unfolding story.
I get asked a lot about how I deal with nos and being ignored. Does it wear on me?
No, it doesn’t… that’s all just part of the process. I am living for the yes! When you hear no (which is really quite nice because then you can drop that contact and move onto someone else), it’s just part of the job. You simply shrug it off and keep going, because a yes is just around the corner. I can’t control whether or not they say yes or no, but I can give them great ideas to consider, and so can you.
To your success!
P.S. There is still time to submit a question for me to cover in here. If you have a question about media, publicists, how to get more visibility, or anything else on book publicity and marketing, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.
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