If you’ve been reading Savvy Sunday News for awhile or you’re a member of my Media Book Camp (MBC), then you know I am all about authors learning to become their own publicists. MBC is all about teaching writers and authors to do exactly that. As I’m fond of saying, “Publicity isn’t brain surgery or rocket science,” but you do need to know some things in order to be effective. And, DIY isn’t for everyone…
There are lots of reasons authors hire publicists to help them promote their books, but it really comes down to three main points:
Time can be viewed in a number of different ways. First there is your own time, which is an incredibly valuable resource. Seeking and then landing various marketing and publicity opportunities takes more time than you can imagine, not to mention frustration because you’re going to hear “no” a lot (although that makes hearing “yes” all the sweeter), but it’s doable. If you have the time, then do-it-yourself may be the perfect way for you to go.
Another aspect of time is how others view and work within it. You may feel you should be able to get your book reviewed within a couple of months (please don’t say days…or even weeks), and it is possible, but again, others have a different view of time. It often takes longer.
For example, when you send a book out to the industry trades, each outlet has its own requirements, e.g., send a galley or ARC four months in advance of publication date (or 3, or 2, or even 6, depending on the outlet!), send one or two copies of the book (depending on the outlet), send a cover letter and and press release that contains all the ordering information, etc. Once they receive your package, they will keep one copy and assign the second copy to a reviewer (who may be in another state so it will need to be mailed again) who has other books on his or her desk to review. They have to read it, and then thoughtfully write a review. Because they want their review to come out at the same time as your book does, around publication date, you need to do this early. Timing, and knowing what the timing is can make or break a campaign.
- Muse says “Time is Running Out.”
- The Rolling Stones say, “Time is on my side.”
- Culture Club says “Time is like a clock in my heart.”
- And let’s do “The Time Warp” again!!
But I digress…
You’ve heard it before that timing is everything, and that is especially true when it comes to book publicity and marketing. You need to know when to do what, and you need to make sure you’re getting advice from the right people and that their advice fits your particular situation.
You’ve heard the old saying, “It’s who you know,” and that is especially true with media. However, it’s not an absolute. Trained media professionals expect cold pitches and if you’ve done your homework, your pitch will be appropriate for them. This is worth stressing because you must make sure you’re pitching an angle they would be interested in based on the outlet’s audience and the focus of the particular journalist or producer. The good news is that you can conduct extensive research from the comfort of your own home or office–with the results right at your fingertips–so there is absolutely no excuse for not doing this.
Now, imagine for a moment how much better it is when you already have a list of contacts that you’ve been bringing story ideas to for years. Because of those relationships, you stand a much better chance of landing the coverage. There is a trust that has been honed and developed. It’s like any relationship, quality time makes it stronger and better.
- Lulleaux, “When we make contact.”
- Jordan Fisher, “You Give Me That Contact.”
- Edwin Starr, “Contact.”
Cold pitching is OK as long as it’s the right ideas addressed to the right people, but nothing beats an established relationship with media contacts.
Experience goes hand in hand with time and contacts. When you’ve spent time doing something, you get better at it. If your emphasis is on getting coverage for books and authors, then you know where to go. Knowing when an idea is unique, emphasizing the key messages that are the most compelling, understanding the news cycle and what they may be looking for at any given moment, knowing what will fly with someone and what won’t, all make for a better chance of coverage.
Every author is different, every book is different, every campaign is different, but there are elements that are fundamental and are applicable to all. Each time you run a campaign you learn more, and other clients and authors will get the benefit of that kind of experience. Knowing what’s trending now both in terms of subject matter and how to reach out to the right people is also incredibly helpful.
There is no question you can do it yourself. You can make the time, develop the contacts, and gain the experience of creating your own book campaign and then capturing the media coverage you want. But if those three resources are out of reach or in tight demand, then getting help can be a game changer.
And that’s why many authors hire publicists. They know what it takes and make a decision based on where they want to spend their time. Some want to spend it doing other things such as speaking, building their platforms, creating better relationships with their communities, writing their next book, etc. They want someone else to book the interviews and they’ll show up, deliver, and shine.
To Your Success!
P.S. I have a little video called, Do it Yourself: Become Your Own Publicist that talks about the common mistakes authors make and what to do instead. Don’t worry. No sales pitch. Media Book Camp is on hiatus at the moment, but I am looking to bring it back with some updates later this year. Let me know if you’re interested because that may sway me to be sure and do it!