Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Online Publicity Kits: Do You Have One?

The speakers at the Denver Publishing Institute ranged over a wide variety of topics from copy-editing to magazine publishing to college publishing to marketing and more(all of which I hope to touch on in the next few weeks), but today I’m going to focus on the world of publicity. Our faculty member for this presentation was Scott Manning (of Scott Manning & Associates) who gave a wonderful presentation complete with examples of publicity work he’s done in the past.*

While Scott had a lot to say on the state of publicity**—the who you know aspect, the importance of targeting your audience, and using the combination of new media and old to find success for your book—I’m going to focus on something that occurred to me during his presentation: getting inside the head of journalists.

What he meant was, to get your book covered by the press you need to give the reporters everything they could possibly need. How does your book relate to news they are covering or what is going on today? How is it relevant? What do you need to provide for a story to be spun from the platform your book provides?

Once you know these answers, you build your publicity statement and kit accordingly.

I’m not telling you anything that you haven’t heard before. Obviously this is easier to do for nonfiction since not many fiction authors can claim to be an expert in the field of study they write about or one that can get them on the news, but that does not mean that you can’t take the concept and apply it to your own book.

Specifically I want to apply it to how you represent yourself and your book online.

Why online? The future of a successful will become more and more dependent on the successful mix of New and Old Media. With the shrinking of review sections, etc, New Media (the internet) allows the author and publicist to find other forums to better target their audience, and enough coverage can gain Old Media attention. In the reverse, massive Old Media attention often triggers New Media’s interest.

New and Old Media work on different schedules though. A successful Old Media campaign means having all reviews and mentions of the book coincide with the release date. If the review or interview drops too early, the people who go into the store and are told your book is not out yet will be just as likely to forget about it as they are to try again, something every publisher wishes to avoid.

Unlike with Old Media, you do not want to hold off until publication day to get people online talking about your book. A well-placed Amazon link means that a reader can easily add it to their wish list or pre-order the title. An early review can generate buzz with each person who comments mentioning how much they want this book, or how they’ve already pre-ordered (and you want this, you want this bad. Readers like reassurance they are spending their money on something they will love, and they get this by seeing others excited about the upcoming release).

Also, to successfully manipulate the Google algorithm you and your book need to have created some sort of backlog of information. You need to have a website that is coded correctly so that it comes up on the first page. You need to start getting your name out there pre-publication.

Which brings me to why you need an online publicity kit.

(Eventually I do get to my point.)

Say you see a call go up for guest bloggers here on Bookseller Chick. Knowing that I’m interested on the changes in the publishing industry, the bookseller/author relationship, the writing process, and the world of your book (and how you came up with it), you would ideally email me with something on one of these topics. Since we’re working in an ideal world here, let’s assume that I got back to you immediately with a date and time for column publication.

Excellent, but what do you want to go with your column? What does this blogger know about you?

I mean, we would all like to assume (me included) that I’m going to have enough time to do my homework on your background to come up with some sort of intro, but the truth is that I often get these posts ready in the morning when I don’t have a ton of time to go searching for links and definitive information.

Enter your online publicity kit.

When you send back your column you should also include:

  • An author’s bio
  • A (small) jpeg of your cover
  • An author photo if you want one included
  • A link to your website
  • Links to any other places you’ll be doing interviews/columns (as well as dates if you are doing a virtual tour)
  • Links to any reviews you may have received
  • Links to your book on Amazon, B&N, Borders, Powells or any other place you want your readers to shop
  • Jpegs of past book covers if you want those included

Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Kinda feels like you are doing all the work for this other person (me), but the truth is that this is the only way you can guarantee that everything you want is included and shows up correctly. I automatically default to Amazon when I’m linking books, but maybe you would rather have people shop at Powells or your local Independent. I don’t always have the time to pull together all the information I want to on an author, and I don’t have any idea what you are doing or writing next.

You should also keep all this stuff fresh on your site. Doing an interview or guest blog does no good if you don’t link to it in a place where people can find it. Receiving an excellent online review means nothing if it gets mentioned once and disappears into the archives of your blog. These things need to be easy for your readers to find. With most newspapers making their articles accessible online, this gives you a chance to place New and Old Media side by side. People can read your book’s review in the LA Times online as well as check out what different readers had to say. People can check out articles and op-ed pieces you’ve written, and then check out your online interviews and opinion pieces.

The internet (and your standing on Technorati, Ice Rocket, and all the search engines) is based on how many people link back to you, so you need to get out there and you need to do it early. You need to become the online authority on you and your book so that when little ol’ me comes along, totally in love with your last novel and wanting to interview you (or ask you to write a column), I have all the information I need available directly from your site.

Questions? Thoughts?

I realize that I’ve rambled on, and I’m willing to focus in on any one point and expand if asked (or follow you off on an unrelated tangent).

Tell me what you think.

*(Scott gets double points because past publicity work meant getting Mark Bowden on the Colbert Report, and that meant we got to watch a clip.)

**For those of you who might be unclear on the subject, publicity differs from marketing in that it is the act of getting something for “nothing.” “Nothing” gets quotations marks because really what you are trading on connects and information instead of money, unlike with marketing where you are spending funds on tchochkes and advertising and co-op space.


Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks for this helpful column. I have a question about the press kit. Everything you talked about is on my website, but I don't have a specific button called "press kit." Is it enough that all my materials are accessible? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Very helpful. This has become the topic of the week at my publisher, thus it's very timely for me. Moves to the top of my big list of things to have ready should I need it, and I do.

Little Willow said...

I love making EPKs!

La Gringa said...

Okay, I'm going to add a few things here. I work in book publicity and I've often had to tell authors what they need to give ME to help promote their book, and they're the same things that they should have on their website.

I agree it's great to have a some low-res files available for download, you should also have high-res jpgs available for print media. 300 dpi is good; 600 dpi is better. If a glossy monthly wants your photo, the highher the res the better.

For an author photo, always 9always always always!!!) have a color photo. Even if you think you have the best B&W headshot in the world, a magazine like Entertainment Weekly is not going to want it. 90% of the print and online media want color.

Have a ready-made Q&A. You would be surprised at often a journalist at a small paper will just print that Q&A in its entirety. It's easy conetent.

And although Bookseller Chick says to add links to your past reviews, I would go one further. Create and host PDF files of any reviews. Online content disappears, or gets moved, or requires the dreaded registration. make it easy for the press to get your information.

Okay, hope that was helpful.


Carleen Brice said...

Thank you. Very helpful. And now my brain hurts even more. But in a good way. :-)

Anonymous said...

Yay! I have my debut novel DARE coming out soon from Simon & Schuster and although there are a million schools for writer's there are no degrees in how to be "a successful author." Your advice will help me get DARE the story I've worked so hard to create to my beloved audience.
Thanks mucho!
Abiola Abrams