This edited transcript is the first in a four-part series from an interview on Jan. 12, 2015. Julie Eason asks me about how authors can do their own publicity. Prefer audio? You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher Radio. Part 2 will be published here tomorrow.
Julie Anne: Well, hello, and welcome everyone to the Successful Author Podcast. I’m Julie Anne Eason and I want to ask you a question.
Do you think your book might sell more copies and help more people if you could land an article in a major newspaper or magazine? Would a TV spot on the “Today” show or your local nightly news be useful to your career? Do you dream of getting great publicity but you can’t afford to pay for an expensive PR agency?
If so, you’re going to love today’s interview. I’m here with Joan Stewart, also known as The Publicity Hound. She’s going to share with us the best do-it-yourself publicity strategies so that you can get the media attention that you and your book deserve and need.
Joan Stewart works with business owners, nonprofits, and organizations that need free publicity in traditional and social media. For almost two decades, she’s trained and coached thousands of people on how to get free publicity that helps them establish credibility, enhance their reputation, position themselves as experts, sell more products and services, and promote their favorite causes or issues without an expensive publicist. She helps people through her live events, her online training, consulting, and The Publicity Hound Mentor Program.
Joan is the author of 10 ebooks on publicity and PR and has contributed to more than 60 other books on various publicity and business topics.
Welcome, Joan, I’m so excited to have you on the show. Thank you for spending so much time with us today.
Joan: Hi, Julie! It’s great to be here. Hello, authors everywhere! It’s great to be here.
Julie Anne: All right! Let’s jump right in. First I want to start off by defining exactly what is publicity in case people don’t know. Why is it such an important skill for authors to have?
Definition of Publicity
Joan: Publicity is the art—and it is an art—of using other people or other websites or other tools to let the world know what you’re doing. That could be to promote maybe a book signing, it could be to let the world know about problems that you can solve.
In the old days, back when I worked at a newspaper, you had to basically grovel in front of traditional media and hoped that they covered you. Now those days have changed. Traditional media has become less relevant than it used to be, because there are so many online tools and websites that help you self-promote and get the word out there to either a niche or a mass market for next to nothing.
Julie Anne: Awesome. Is this something that every author can develop themselves?
Joan: Yes, but you’ve got to have a strategy. You have to be willing to do the hard work. Anybody who tells you that book marketing and publicity is easy and you can only do it in 15 minutes a day, they’re lying to you. It’s very hard. So many authors don’t want to market. The authors who are in my Mentor Program and many of them who I’ve consulted with over the years feel deceitful, or they feel dishonest or even dirty when it comes to marketing.
Julie Anne: Yeah, what’s what with that? [Laughs]
The Importance of Book Marketing
Joan: I don’t know. I tell them, “Get over it!” Because unless you embrace marketing your book as a major task that you have to do—and I’m assuming that people do not have money to hire expensive publicists, they’re very expensive—unless you’re willing to do that, don’t bother writing a book. Unless, of course, writing a book and spending all that money writing and marketing a book is just a fun little hobby for you. Then you don’t have to market. But if it’s not a fun little hobby and you’re using it to build a platform and to promote your expertise and to attract raving fans—you’ve got to be out there constantly marketing your book, period.
Definition of Book Marketing
Julie Anne: Marketing your book is all about letting people know why they should buy your book, but not only buy it, but what value you’re going to give to them, what you can help them with, how you can solve their problems. Nobody knows that better than you do because you wrote the book.
Even if you’re spending thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a publicist, that publicist doesn’t know your book as well as you do and they’re not as passionate about that book as you are. Even spending the money, even if you can afford to spend the money, it’s often, I think, a better idea for you to do your PR yourself, simply because you know the benefits of your book better than anybody else.
Joan: You bet, absolutely.
Julie Anne: All right, so let’s get down to strategies. I love the practical strategies and the brass tacks. I know that forever, it seems that publicity, kind of like traditional publishing, sort of had this secret society shroud of mystery surrounding it and you had to have a secret handshake to get in, and you had to grovel, like you said, to hope that they would notice you.
But that’s just not true anymore. Now there are so many ways, just like we can self-publish, that we can also self-publicize.
Let’s talk about the top three strategies that you think authors should be using to promote their books.
How to Identify the Target Market for Your Book
Joan: Oh, there’s so many of them! I don’t even know where to start. Let me choose three very, very important ones. The first one is going to seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing, Julie, how many authors, have written books already—the books are already on the market—and they have no clue who their target market is for the book.
Julie Anne: Absolutely.
Joan: I know this because when they work with me, that’s the first question I ask, “Who’s your target market?” Sometimes they’ll come back and say, “Well, everybody is.”
I say, “Really?”
And they say, “My Aunt Sally said she thinks everybody should read my book.”
Well, guess what? If your target market is everybody, that means you have to market to everybody and that’s impossible, as you know. Define your target market before you put one word on that document, before you write the first sentence. Identify your target market and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who needs my book?
- Do they even want my book?
- Where will they be able to find it?
- Will they know where to look for it?
- What makes my book different?
- What about price, can they even afford my book?
- How am I going to price it?
- Does my target audience even read?
You may have a target audience that doesn’t want to read a print book or an ebook, they may prefer video or audio. The only way you know that is to ask people who are your ideal readers.
I learned this from one of my coaches, Perry Marshall. I heard him say this at a conference and it has stuck with me to this very day. He says, regardless of what you’re writing or what you’re selling, you should know your target market so well that you can wake up in the morning and write a page in their journal exactly the way they would write it.
Julie Anne: Exactly. People get tripped up on this whole target market thing and I think it’s because they think that they have to figure it out. They have to go out and find this target market, when in fact, where it comes from is it comes from you. Just like you get to decide who you want to sell to, you get to decide who your target market is for your book. Who do you think is going to benefit the most from this book? Who do you think you’re going to help the most?
When you think about it that way and it’s not something you have to go find and search for, but it’s something that you create and you make up and you decide, this is my target market, it makes it a lot easier.
Tomorrow: How to identify the target market for your book