Ebook publicity idea: Name fictional characters after your fans–they’ll help you promote

Chris Kennedy sci-fi novels

When sci-fi novelist Chris Kennedy writes an ebook, he names characters in his novels after real people, many of them his fans.

He calls the characters “Redshirts,” a term that originated with the Star Trek TV series. Starfleet security personnel who frequently died during episodes wore red shirts.

“If you want to be in one of my ebooks, tell me something about yourself,” Chris says. “I already have 20 people lined up who will be characters in my sixth ebook.”

One of his fans is Father John Zuhlsdorf, a Catholic priest and Internet personality better known as “Father Z” who has a huge following.

Father Zuhlsdorf wanted to be a Redshirt, and Chris named a fictional chaplain after him.

“He managed to survive the Redshirt process and made it into the next ebook as well,” Chris said.

How Publicity Builds

Father John Zuhlsdorf“Father Z has mentioned the ebooks at least a couple of times in his blog, and I’ve heard many readers tell me they heard about my books from him. He’s also on Facebook.”

All the other people who are named in those ebooks tell their friends, too…and they tell their friends and so on…

“I hate having to come up with new names for characters so it’s a win-win for me,” Chris says.

“Not only do I get people who will give me their names, but I also get free publicity and guaranteed sales for using them!”

More Ebook Publicity Ideas Tomorrow

Naming characters in your ebook after real people is one of the sales tricks I’ll discuss tomorrow—Thursday, July 17, 2014—when I host the paid webinar How to Promote Your Ebooks for Maximum Visibility and Sales. It’s from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time and I’ll record it. So if you’ve made other plans, register anyway. I’ll send you the video replay and all the bonuses within 72 hours.

Most of my tips apply to both fiction and non-fiction authors. When I asked readers of my ezine this week to share with me their best tips for promoting ebooks, I was inundated with responses! Some of them are incredibly clever, and others so easy! I’ll show you how one ebook author ended up on the cover of a magazine. Register now and make marketing your ebooks a lot easier.

‘Cut and paste’ software eliminates tedious typing, makes marketing easier

5 Way Macro Software Saves Time Marketing500By Barbara Florio Graham

One of the ways I keep a diversified business running smoothly is to have carefully-crafted responses to common questions and news items pre-writtten.

Years ago, this would have meant a series of separate documents on my computer, but now it takes just a few seconds to locate what I want to include in a letter, press release, email or social media post, and paste it in.

Several programs allow you to do this.

Joan Stewart uses Shortkeys, a keyboard macro utility for PC or Mac. She says it takes her less than 30 seconds to create a Shortkey and assign to it copy that she can use over and over again, by typing only a few keystrokes.

Beware of Free Programs

Like most good programs, ShortKeys offers a 30-day free trial before you have to pay for it.

You can also find free macro programs and clipboard extenders, but, like most free software, when I downloaded these they automatically installed other programs I didn’t want. That triggered pop-up ads urging me to buy something. Annoying! They were actually installed, without my permission, into My Programs. I had to manually remove them.

I’m working on a PC, but all these functions also exist on a Mac, although they may be called by a different term.

Why I Love Clipmate

I’ve used a program called ClipMate since it was first launched in 1991. It allows me to highlight anything I choose – a word, phrase, URL, paragraph or entire letter or article – and copy it to ClipMate.

The program sits on my task bar, so all those clips are instantly available. I just highlight the one I want and paste it into a document, web page, email or any social media.

This allows me to fire off a comprehensive reply to a query about any of my services. Or I can offer my bios in whatever length the publication needs, or letters to the editor. I also use it for posts to blogs or other social media that discuss a variety of topics related to writing, publishing, cats, and many other issues that concern me or where I can offer expertise.

For example, my award-winning article, “Training Your Cat Like a Dog,” appeared in publications in the U.S. and Canada. I keep a description in ClipMate to send to any pet publication I hear about in other countries. As I write this blog, I’m waiting to hear back from magazines in Germany and India. Sending these queries took just a few minutes.

ClipMate has several key advantages. You can create “Collections” and have any number of finely sorted clips available. For example, I have a collection called “Tags” where I store unique URLs for individual pages on my website, my mailing address, book titles and ISBNs, and several different letterhead templates.

I have another called “Responses” where I keep messages answering requests for mentoring, a description of my Canadian Libraries list, ordering information for my books, etc. Another collection contains my credits, in 20-word, 50-word, 100-word and longer versions.

You can modify a clip by just hitting “View” in ClipMate, changing whatever you want, and then closing the clip. Collections can be sorted, items moved or copies from one to the other, and retrieved (if they’ve been accidentally deleted) from the trash bin. Because there is no limit on the number of clips in any of the collections, you never lose a clip unless you deliberately delete it.

Only the trash bin is eventually emptied. In some other programs, items are deleted from the bottom as “fill” the collection.

Use It for Marketing, Publicity, Promotion

Free Publicity Tip 39--Use a Macro Key ProgramClipMate streamlines my marketing and promotion. I can store testimonials and reviews written by others, which I’ve copied from an email or website, without opening a document.

Since my company is named after my cat, I need to keep a great deal of information about Simon Teakettle readily available. He has his own collection in ClipMate, with descriptions of varying lengths, short and long bios, information about his MEWSical Society and Fan Club, and several clips describing his book, including the full Table of Contents.

Once you copy a clip from ClipMate, you can select only the portions you want to use, and then, if you wish, copy just those portions back into ClipMate as separate clips. I often do that when I need the number of a loyalty card (like AirMiles). I have this filed under a ClipMate collection called Data. I’ve sorted this alphabetically, so it’s easy to find any of the loyalty programs or other numbers I need to type into email occasionally. And when I retrieve it, I can copy only the number.

I have a “secret” collection in ClipMate containing my credit card numbers, passwords and other sensitive data. Because I store so much in ClipMate, anyone who might obtain unauthorized access to my ClipMate collections would have to search a long time before finding them.

Take It with You on a Thumb Drive

Like ShortKeys, ClipMate is portable. You can copy the program and your data to a thumb drive and take it with you.

ClipMate allows you to set automatic backups to whatever folder you select. Since since it provides a unique name for each back-up file it creates, you always have a few previous back-ups available, in case you want to retrieve something you mistakenly deleted days or even weeks ago.

But your most recently deleted clips are always available from the trash, or the “virtual” folder, which shows you everything you copied today, this week, this month, or even further back.

ShortKeys also has an automatic back-up feature, the ability to create an unlimited number of files and to sort macros into categories.

You can do all these things by simply creating a “To Copy” folder on your desktop, and creating your own collections. But since ClipMate only costs $35 and ShortKeys $25, you might try them both and see which you like best.

*     *     * 

Barbara Florio GrahamBarbara Florio Graham is an author and publishing consultant. Her website includes free resources for writers and publishers, contract advice, and interesting facts about science, history, food, animals, culture and inventions. Simon Teakettle, the cat that “owns the company,” has his own blog, and offers free information about cat ownership and training.

How to connect with TV news personalities on social media

How to Connect with TV People on Social MediaBy Roshanda E. Pratt

Television personalities, producers, reporters, anchors and news managers are more accessible than previous years past.

During my tenure working in television news eight years ago, the access to broadcasters was almost non-existent. I remember vividly working alongside reporters on stories. I had to field calls from viewers who wanted to chat with their favorite anchor or host to pitch a story.

Most often, those calls were transferred to voicemail.

This was not the media acting arrogant. Could you imagine spending your day on the phone? Television people are constantly trying to manage the clock. If you spent the majority of your time on the phone, you would get little or no work done.

This super-connected world has shrunk the distance between media and the viewer.

They Need Sources

Most local television news stations require their on-air talent to create social media profiles with the purpose of connecting with viewers who could be potential sources for stories.

Reporters’ contacts in their address books are a goldmine. For a journalist to create a wide network of sources through social media, it eliminates traditional efforts of making phone calls or meeting over lunch.

Instead, reporters can use social media and other digital services to post queries online and wait for potential sources to respond.

Nowadays, journalists are online, just like the rest of us.

Muck Rack is a great tool which connects journalists, their readers and those who want to get covered. Muck Rack has taken some of the hard work out of connecting by posting a big list of journalists active on Google+. Facebook has launched Journalists on Facebook to help reporters find sources, interact with readers and advance stories.

So what about your local media? I am so glad you asked.

5 Tips for Connecting

  1. Connect with your local personalities on the social media platform where you see they hang out the most. You can find your local media on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even Linkedin. You’ll have to do some research to find out which media people use which social media platforms, but it will pay off.
  2. Engage don’t stalk. Say hello and create a relationship before you start pitching. The best way to do that is by commenting on their work. That’s why it’s important that you become familiar with their beats. Believe it or not, they are people too. You can comment by sending a short message to their email address at the station.
  3. Pay attention to what they might be looking for. If  you can honestly help, make yourself available. If not, don’t “pretend” that you can because it can hinder the new relationship. Remember, no one likes a phony.
  4. If you do decide to pitch, don’t be rude or spammy. Nobody likes that. If you are going to send a message through Facebook, for example, remember that you’re not the only one using that feature. My advice: Don’t even bother. You have a better chance sending a message to the email address at their TV station.
  5. Do your homework before connecting. Watch their news reports to become familiar with their work. Go to their websites where  TV stations often have profiles of on-air reporters and anchors. Read the profiles to learn more about them. Also, Google their names to see if they blog. A blog will most likely include many more details about them that you could weave into a pitch, if relevant. See how to find the name of a blogger’s dog, cat or kid in 60 seconds and journalists’ blogs offer valuable clues about how to pitch them.

 Bottom line: Don’t wait for the media to throw you a bone. Instead, make the first move.

Would you dare fact-check a journalist’s article in red pencil and post it online?

In the old days, if a journalist wrote a news article or opinion column that you believed was inaccurate or unfair, you had only three options:

  1. Write a letter to the editor or column responding to it, and hope they print it.
  2. Ask for a face-to-face meeting with an editor and the writer.
  3. Cancel your subscription, an option that does nothing to help your cause. 

Back then, only newspapers, magazines, TV and radio were the media. Today, you are the media too. Your platform might not be as big as theirs, but you have tools to fight back. 

That’s what Walmart demonstrated after Timothy Egan, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote a June 19 opinion column spanking the retailer for low wages, part-time contracts and other sins that have resulted in “public disdain for the company.”

That same day, Walmart responded by fact-checking the entire column in red and posting it on their blog. Here’s part of it:

walmart rebuttal  

Whether you not you agree with the Times column, this is an excellent example of one way to fight back if you feel the media has treated you unfairly. Walmart’s rebuttal had much more reach than the Times column. It was covered by Forbes, Fox News,  Business Insider and a variety of conservative media outlets. 

You Will be Fact-Checked Too

Walmart’s rebuttal was clever and effective. But here’s the danger in a public fact-check. Someone, somewhere, will probably fact-check you, too.  

Mark Gongloff, a columnist for The Huffington Post, responded by Fact-Checking Walmart’s Fact-Check of The New York Times.

And the debate probably won’t stop there.

This is Why You Should be Blogging

If a journalist or blogger treats you unfairly, one of the best places to respond is at your own blog where you have full control of the message. You can then pitch other media outlets and point them to your blog post.

The Walmart-New York Times battle is one more example of why most companies should be blogging. If you want to respond but you don’t have a blog, you’re forced to rely on an expensive press release distribution service.

You can respond on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook, but the message will be lost on those noisy platforms.        

What Would You Do?

Would you publicly fact-check a journalist’s or blogger’s article about you? If not, why not? I’d especially love to hear from PR pros and business owners. 

Employee recruitment, retention booklets still available for bulk orders

employee recruitment and retention bookletsIf you’re looking for clever ways to find qualified employees and keep them, you’ll find more than 200 tips in my two tips booklets “113 Tips for Finding Valuable Employees” and “107 Tips for Keeping Valuable Employees.”

I took them off the market a few years ago because I first published them in 2000 and some of the links are outdated. I have a few hundred of each and no plans to reprint them.

They normally sell for $5 each but if you’re interested in buying 10 or more, I’ll cut the price in half, with deep discounts for larger quantities. 

A reader contacted me last week and said his bank, in Pennsylvania, included a blurb about the booklets in its latest newsletter.

If you want to place a bulk order, please call my assistant, Christine Buffaloe, at 619-955-5772 or email her and she’ll give you a great deal.  :-) You can pay by check, credit card or PayPal.   

 

Meet editorial board members of 3 Chicago newspapers at Publicity Club July 9

Many business owners and PR people spend so much time pitching reporters and section editors at newspapers that they often forget about another important consideration: the newspaper’s editorial board. That’s the group of top editors who meet daily to decide the position that the newspaper will take on its editorials and set other newsroom policy.

It’s usually comprised of a few top editors and the editorial page editor. A face-to-face meeting with the editorial board can be ideal for letting them meet important people like your new CEO, or explaining your side of a controversial issue that they might not already have discussed on the editorial page. I wrote about other reasons to meet editorial boards.

When I worked as a newspaper editor, my editorial boards sometimes agreed to meet with newsmakers who were concerned about media bias, or with others who wanted to let us know about background information before a story broke.

But those meetings can be difficult to arrange because of the board’s other duties. And they don’t agree to meet with everyone who asks.

Chicago area business owners and PR people can meet one member from the editorial board of the city’s three major newspapers at the July 9 meeting of The Publicity Club of Chicago. A panel discussion will feature:

  • Bruce Dold, Chicago Tribune Editorial Page Editor
  • Ann Dwyer, Crain’s Chicago Business Deputy Managing Editor
  • Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Page Editor

I’ve attended these luncheons and their panels are excellent. There’s usually enough time for many questions from the audience, and you can introduce yourself to the panelists afterward. But this isn’t the time to pitch!

The PCC monthly luncheon program will be held at Maggiano’s Restaurant, 516 N. Clark Street, Chicago. 

It begins with registration and networking  at 11:30 a.m., followed by a family-style lunch at noon. The program ends at 1:30 p.m. Register here.

Early registration rates are available for $40 (members), $55 (non-members), or $25 (students) through 5 p.m., July 7.  Late registration rates of $50 (members), $65 (non-members), or $25 (students) apply through 3 p.m., July 8.  Walk-in rates of $55 (members), $70 (non-members), or $30 (students) apply the day of the program. Students can also register for either the program only (free) or the program with dessert and beverage for only $10. Student ID must be shown. 

Panda 4.0 didn’t kill the press release, it just refocused it

This is a response not only to this article, but to many others like it, too.

By Mickie Kennedy 

The constant algorithm changes Google is rolling out continually spawn “the sky is falling” mentality from people on message boards and blogs across the net.

Don’t believe me? Just Google SEO is dead, linkbuilding is dead, or internet marketing is dead and take a look at everything that pops up.

 panda head mascot

For this post, I’d like to focus on another one that I hold especially close to my heart—the press release is dead. Google it real quick and you’ll find people burying, defending, and questioning it. And it’s no wonder. After the Panda 4.0 update, many press release sites have seen their search rankings basically disappear.

But does that mean Google has killed the press release? Hmmm…  

This Much is True:

The Days of Scheming Press Releases for Link Juice Are Over

Look, this should come as no surprise. Matt Cutts has been saying for over a year that you shouldn’t expect press release links to help you out. Sure there’s been a lot of speculation that those claims were simply a smoke screen and that release links were still helping. But whether it was true or not, it’s enough to let you know that the Powers that Be weren’t thrilled with the way SEOs were gaming the system with press releases.

Now that Google rolled out Panda 4.0 and slammed the press release sites that served as havens for spammy releases, it’s safe to say that using releases for link building purposes is officially over. Sort of. What do I mean by sort of? 

When You Earn the Attention, You’ll Earn the Search Ranking

Enter implied links, one of the newest changes to the algorithm that Google has implemented. What are implied links? In short, when someone mentions your brand name, without even linking to your site, Google will pick it up and factor it into your search rankings. Wow, right? When I first read that, I had to take a step back and take it in.

Can you imagine what this could mean for the future of SEO? The days of spending time building backlinks could be on their way out.

Bad thing? I don’t think so. What this does is open the door for companies to focus on what they should have been focusing on all along—building buzz about their company. In other words, more traditional PR.

 press conference

 

And what does this mean for the press release? Well, it’s just as important as ever. Remember, the original goal of the press release is to get people to talk about you. To get media to pick up your story and report it. Not to get links.

So if you’re doing it right, people will use your release to write a story or a blog post about you online. In turn, Google will see that you’ve earned this attention and your rankings will respond accordingly. 

Should we be pissed at Google? Not at all. They’re just changing things up more to reach the end goal—give readers the most relevant, engaging, newsworthy content. To get rankings now, you have to truly earn it by generating buzz about your company and your products, not by gaming the system. Which means…    

If It Isn’t Really News, Don’t Write a Release 

One thing’s for certain, your release has to be legit, otherwise you’re in danger of hurting yourself. Gone are the days of “let’s write a press release a week” just to have new content going out and try to grab a link. You should only be writing a release when you truly have something to say. Save the weekly content for your blog. 

How can you make sure you have the write content for a release?

Easy. Before you write your release, ask yourself, would someone want to read this and in turn use it to write content for their blog or website? Would their readers really care to hear about it? If the answer is even questionable, don’t waste your time. 

Finally, Remember That Press Releases Have Stood the Test of Time

According to Writing@CSU, press release writing dates back to the 1880s. That’s over 125 years ago.

On the other hand, Google.com was registered in 1997, and arguably didn’t become “a thing” until quite some time after. What does that tell us?

Press releases have a long, rich history of working. Well, let me rephrase that — good press releases have that history. Well-written, well-targeted, and well-distributed press releases.

Have SEOs twisted how press releases are used over the last decade? Sure. Has the web been inundated with crappy, spammy press releases? Sure. But in the scheme of things, I’d argue that this is nothing more than a small blip in the overall history of the release.

In other words, Google’s war on spammy releases absolutely does not invalidate the press release in and of itself. In fact, Google’s recent patent efforts show the search giant is valuing true media pickup more than ever, even when the article or mention does not include a website or link.

As long as you stick to the original purpose of the release—to generate media attention and to get people to report on your news—your release will be just as valid as it would have been 25, 50, or 100 years ago. That’s not going to change.

 vintage newsboy

 

What do you think? Are you planning on changing how you handle your press releases?

20 Things About Publicity True 20 Years Ago and Today – Part 2

By Marcia Yudkin

To celebrate the milestone of my book 6 Steps to Free Publicity remaining in print 20 years after its first edition appeared, here is the second part of my post about 20 points about publicity that are as true now as in 1994. You can catch up on Part 1 here.

Three editions of "6 Steps to Free Publicity"

The first, second and third editions of “6 Steps to Free Publicity”

  1. Media coverage impresses people on planes and at parties.
    6 Steps begins with me on a flight to the west coast sitting beside a Congressman who gave me a look of respect when our other seatmate told him my company was on page 1 of the Wall Street Journal that morning. While I have been in situations over the years where snobby people scoffed “So what?” at various achievements of mine that I rather cherished, this has never happened with the Wall Street Journal story or my cover story for Psychology Today being mentioned by Tom Brokaw on the national nightly news.
  1. Errors may happen.
    Human nature hasn’t changed. Both reporting and editing involve fallible human beings who can make mistakes in spelling, facts or interpretation even when they’re putting in their best professional effort. In some contexts, though, it’s easier than 20 years ago to get corrections into the public record for posterity. Reputable news organizations usually post corrections online along with their original story, whereas in the past the corrections would appear in a different issue, with the original mistake left as is.
  1. Publicity benefits causes.
    Whether it’s someone in the community who needs a new wheelchair van, activists trying to kill a proposed new law, or a nonprofit spreading awareness about the dangers of chemical lawn fertilizers, articles, letters to the editor and on-air interviews definitely get you closer to the goal. In the 1980s, I got two local TV stations to cover a Mother’s Day march for peace that I helped organize by emphasizing in my press release that the event would feature colorful banners and kids holding balloons. Thinking visually and dramatically today still helps get your advocacy message out.
  1. Publicity can change minds.
    In 6 Steps I discussed the power of publicity to challenge stereotypes. Last year the toy company GoldieBlox released a video parody of the lyrics from the Beastie Boys’ “Girls/To do my dishes/Girls/To clean up my room,” with young girls singing instead “Girls/To build a spaceship/Girls/To code the new app” with such joy that it was hard not to see them as future engineers. Before the video was pulled from YouTube because it infringed on the Beastie Boys’ copyright, 7.5 million visitors saw it, and millions more were exposed to its idea from coverage of the story.
  1. Schmoozing with media folks is smart.
    Over the years, I have featured scores of subscribers to my Marketing Minute newsletter in that publication after they sent me spontaneous email comments and I wrote back to learn more about their point of view or success story. Of course, it’s even smarter if you’re deliberate yet still informal in your schmoozing, as I recommended in 6 Steps. Today you can schmooze by following reporters, columnists or popular commentators on Twitter, post comments in response to their content or upload a video review of their latest book to Amazon.
  1. Published articles by you attract attention from key prospects.
    An article I published several years ago in a magazine for financial advisors led to copywriting projects with clients in that industry for the next three years. More recently, a guest blog post brought me thousands of dollars’ worth of immediate registrations in an upcoming coaching program. It’s the very same dynamic.
  1. Speaking elevates you to expert status.
    As I explained in 6 Steps, by virtue of being the one listed on the program and standing in front of the room, you’re credible to your audience. In addition, being a speaker creates powerful opportunities for pre-event, post-event and word-of-mouth publicity. These truths have not faded in the slightest since the first edition of my book.
  1. Publicity can cost nothing but time and energy (and perhaps some trifling expenses).
    To get featured on page 1 of the Wall Street Journal in 1990, I paid for copying and stamps to 100 or so top media targets. Today a creative, well-timed email or tweet that costs you nothing can get your message into newsrooms across the country or around the world. If you understand the way the media work, you still do not need to hire a designer, copywriter or professional publicist to get your message out.
  1. You can invent and publicize a holiday.
    Chase’s Calendar of Events continues to come out annually, listing events sponsored by organizations, like World Oceans Day and Elvis Week in Memphis, but also special days proposed by individuals, such as National Columnists’ Day, created by Jim Six of Woodbury, N.J. and International Aura Awareness Day, from Cynthia Larson of Berkeley, Calif. The cost to get listed in Chase’s? Still zero.
  1. Publicity is fun.
    Compared to, let’s say, preparing financial projections, firing a client or writing up performance reviews, strategizing ways to get publicity is energizing and enjoyable. You get the chance to exercise your playful, imaginative capacities. Studying what others have done to earn publicity is mind-expanding and delightful as well. Twenty years after first publishing my advice on publicity, I still consider this vehicle for spreading the word a treat to plan and its results particularly gratifying. How about you?

I welcome your reflections and anecdotes on publicity constants—and changes—in the Comments.

20 Things About Publicity True 20 Years Ago and Today – Part 1

By Marcia Yudkin

When the first edition of my book 6 Steps to Free Publicity appeared in 1994, email was something used by nerds, websites were a curiosity and blogs had not yet been invented.

To celebrate the milestone that this book remains in print 20 years later, in its third edition, I thought I’d list 20 points about publicity from the first edition that are as true today as they were when I first wrote them. Yes, much has changed in these two decades, but as you’ll see, plenty has not.

Three editions of "Six Steps to Free Publicity"

The first, second and third editions of “6 Steps to Free Publicity”

  1.  Publicity brings you credibility.

    Self-made experts abound today even more than 20 years ago. Since media coverage still needs to be earned rather than bought, getting featured on the airwaves, in print or in influential online media remains a powerful way to set yourself apart from empty-headed braggarts whom the media see through in a New York minute.

  1. Publicity brings you new customers.

    Earlier this year, after a client of mine in the health-care business distributed a news release to industry media about their new offering, they received scores of demo requests –their prelude to a sale. This was far more cost-effective and immediate for them than exhibiting at a trade show, and I was excited to see the process working exactly as it always has: Publicity triggers inquiries that you can deftly turn into business.

  1. Media exposure brings you opportunities.

    Besides customers, publishers, literary agents, movie scouts, investors and radio show producers keep their eyes and ears peeled for people with intriguing stories, personas or unusual skills. According to Sophie Lizard, 148 bloggers landed traditional book deals in 2012. Similar deals come unbidden to those who speak out on radio or TV, create viral videos, publish guest blog posts that stir up controversy and so on.

  1. Creative angles rule.

    In 6 Steps I described how I got magazine publicity for my unrevolutionary ideas on procrastination by putting the material into a novel format: a postcard seminar. You can see such indirect approaches at work today in many social media success stories, such as the “Will it blend?” videos that led to an explosive 700 percent increase in sales for Blendtec.

  1. You need healthy self-esteem to pursue publicity.

    When I have face-to-face discussions with people and suggest their interesting concept deserves publicity, I often see a “Who me?” response in their body language. This hasn’t changed a whit in 20 years: Even to get started with publicity, you need to understand that publicity recipients are usually no smarter than you at anything other than how to get publicity.

  1. Tips are a popular information format.

    Whole sites are now devoted to how-to articles or blog posts in tip form, and they remain a staple of newspapers, magazines, TV and other media. For some people with huge followings, their Twitter stream is nothing but tips in 140 characters or less.

  1. Controversy earns attention.

    In the first edition of my book, I quoted Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting, on the dividends of contradicting accepted beliefs. Today, you’d surely generate a storm of commentary if you were an organic chef and announced that there was no need to reject genetically modified food or if you were a suburban guidance counselor and claimed smart high school graduates should enter the trades rather than college.

  1. Timely pitches get you featured in the news.

    By the very nature of news, this strategy can’t go out of date. Whether it’s offering tips in June for safe barbecuing, tying your company story to this fall’s 25th or 250th historical anniversary or offering yourself as an interviewee on flood insurance when a hurricane has ravaged the coast, this strategy gets you in front of the public now, as 20 years ago.

  1. An event makes an ongoing offering timely.

    My neighbor, a psychologist specializing in treating sleep disorders, recently took advantage of this principle when he presented a lecture at a local public library. This provided the excuse for a long, long article in the local paper about him and his work. As I’ve been telling clients for 20 years, the scheduled event answers the question, “Why should we feature this person or company now?”

  1. A written column earns you an audience.

    Although it’s harder now than it used to be to land a regular column in newspapers, these still exist, and many online venues offer a comparable kind of platform. Indeed, being paid in “exposure” when blogging for Huffington Post entered popular culture a couple of years ago when cartoonist Garry Trudeau made that part of the Doonesbury story line.

I welcome your insights and perspectives on publicity constants—and changes—in the Comments! And stay tuned for Part 2 of this post.

Start a book publicity campaign at least 6 months before launch

 Kate Bandos book publicity chart

 

I wish all authors would refer to the chart above, a complete timeline for book publicity campaign,  a full year before they start writing their books.

It’s courtesy of book publicist Kate Bandos. When she showed this to me a few years ago at an authors conference, my jaw dropped because it’s such a handy cheat sheet for authors.

It’s the very best document I’ve seen that lays out in precise accuracy exactly what to do, and when, to market your book. Here’s the PDF document, perfect for printing and hanging in your office so you are well aware of all the work you have to do.

Launch date is that red line down the middle. All items to the left of it are tasks you must do starting 28 weeks before.

You Can’t Start Too Early

When it comes to planning your book publicity campaign, you can’t err by starting too early. But most authors who call me, sometimes in a panic, leave themselves too little time. I’ve spoken with authors who give themselves only three weeks to do a publicity campaign. They don’t have a media kit or other marketing materials, and they don’t know where to start.   

I’m sharing Kate’s chart here, along with answers to frequently asked questions about book publicity and publicists. They will give you a good idea of why you must leave yourself enough time to do the job right.

FAQs About Book Publicity and Publicists    

Q. I’ve been thinking about hiring a publicist for about 10 hours to try and get articles in the U.S. Is this realistic?

A. If you can afford a publicist, you should hire one primarily to get you top-tier media attention: in major magazines and newspapers, major news websites, big bloggers, etc. bloggers, etc. You can work alongside her and pitch smaller media outlets, do outreach for guest blog posts at smaller blogs, etc. Ten hours won’t get you very far, however. Your publicist will need to spend significant time learning about you and your book before she starts pitching.

Q. How much does a publicist cost?

A. You should expect to spend several thousand dollars minimum. Kate Bandos and other publicists have a la carte services for authors on a budget. Other book publicists charge about $2,500 a month, and some want a six-month commitment.

Q. Does my publicist pitch all the book reviewers?

A. It depends on much you can spend. I recommend your publicist only target the major reviewers and other top-tier media. You can pitch the other 90 percent of the reviewers. I hosted a webinar several months ago on exactly how to do that. It even includes templates for emails you can send to reviewers asking for reviews. See How to Ask for Book and Product Reviews from Bloggers, Journalists and Consumers. 

Q. What if I’m not very well known? Can I still start book publicity six months before launch?

A. Ideally, if you aren’t well known, you should start building platform a full two years before you publish. It takes that long to build profiles on social media, learn the lay of the land, and build traction. In some cases, you need two or three years to position yourself as a recognized expert in your field.

Q. What is author platform?

A. I like digital publishing expert Jane Friedman’s definition of author platform: “Someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.”  She explains what platform is and what it isn’t. Many authors miss this critical step of building platform, and then wonder why they can’t sell books.

Q. How to I find the best publicist for me?

A. Ask other authors for recommendations.  LinkedIn has several excellent Groups for authors and publishers. I like Author U, moderated by Judith Briles. Never hire a publicist unless you have spoken with at least three authors who have worked with your candidates.

Q. Who builds my media kit—me or my publicist?

A. Use a publicist for targeting top-tier media. Use my Quick & Easy Media Kit Templates for Indie Authors. Your publicist can make suggestions for other items you need to include in your kit, depending on what she has planned for your publicity campaign. But building the kit yourself according to my instructions will save you a lot of time and money. 

What burning questions do you have about book publicity that I’ve missed?