Direct Contact PR, Internet media faxgrowth




 
amateurfetishist.com

Paul Krupin’s Trash Proof Marketing and Publicity Blog

Paying for Book Reviews – Is it worth it?

Paying for book reviews - costs compared to normal book publicity

Discussion of the new program to charge $149 for book reviews at Publishers Weekly. One person asked “Is it worth it?”

I write lots of news releases and send them out to lots of media and one of the primary goals for each and every one of my book author clients is to get their book reviewed.

I personally think that paying for reviews is just one way to achieve the goal of reaching and persuading people in a given target audience. I am seeing more and more media now say that they are charging for reviews. This is happening in many categories of media we deal with regularly. There are real reasons why this is happening and there are important tactics that those of us who promote books must pay close attention to.

To me the media are best viewed as publishers who make their living from writing, or using other people’s writing, to create something people will pay for. They only have two income streams for the most part, subscribers and advertising. To date, the core content that people who pay require of them, is usually a cost to the publisher. They have either employees, or they use freelance writers, and must pay for articles, or reviews. They create publications that they sell to buying audiences. That’s how they make their money.

Hence certain requirements exist when you want to be featured in a publication. The first is that you make sure you create something that matches or exceeds the quality or needs of the target audience, and the defined character of the media you wish to be in; and 2. That you then persuade that media that the audience in fact will be interested in what you created and 3. That you make it easy for the publisher to do their job, which is write something favorable that triggers sales.

Now for people who wish to get book reviews in library and publishing industry journals, the book review is helpful to getting the book before librarians and booksellers. So a book review in certain media has value.

More and more of these media are charging because they see the time and effort needed as a significant issue. It takes people, time, and physical space to manage a book review program that receives hundreds of books a week from authors and publishers all over the world. So the costs and manpower to do this is considerable. It is no wonder that media have decided to place a price on the process, to cover and defer these costs, and yet make no promises whatsoever on whether the review conducted will be helpful to an author or a publisher at all. I mean if you want to truly control the message that gets placed before a target audience, these media have a clearly identified process for doing that. It’s called advertising.

On the other hand, if what you seek instead is a bona fide objective review then you are forced to use methods of persuasion like sending news releases, books for review and media kits that contain the information needed to make a really favorable impression on media professionals, demonstrate to them that lots of people will be interested in the book, why, and what value it will have, and that even writing their review or story is easy with the extra materials you can make available to them to do their job (and defray their publishing time, effort, and costs).

This is what you need to really think about these days when presenting a review proposal to media.

To me, $149 for a review is a little high. Not only that, if all you do is send a book and wait for a review, then you are missing the opportunity to influence and control the outcome. That’s what you do when you work with a publicist.

If an author or a publisher invests $500 in an outreach effort, it is not unusual for me to see them get 20 to 60 requests (or more) for review copies as a result of their effort. One average, one can expect 50 percent of the requests to actually result in a review. So that means that the cost per review averages from $10 to $50 per review achieved. Follow up will improve the media response and performance.

Other publicists will cost more than this to achieve the same thing. You pay for the time, effort, technology and expertise and this is the business of strategic communication and persuasion.

However, book reviews may not be the only outcome or consequence from pitching to media.

The same PR outreach effort and $500 cost also triggers interviews and feature stories and even requests for speaking engagements. The actual outcome depends on the author, the topic, what we give to the media to share with the audience, the prior media coverage of the same topic or genre, the specific media targeted, and in many cases most importantly, the bottom line quality of the book. The value of this coverage is very hard to place a real value on. A single placement on FOX News, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or MSNBC may result in hundreds or thousands of book sales and it may not. A single well conducted interview on NPR may launch a best seller. It also may not. Then again, a single well written and galvanizing story in the middle of nowhere but to a captive dedicated audience may also sell a great number of books. But then again, it may not.

The quality of the book and how it fits in the scheme of things is very important. But sometimes that doesn’t matter to the media. The content of the message is what matters the most. Timely content with high value to the audience gets the best coverage regardless of whether the book is fresh and new or old and musty. I’ve gotten many an author great publicity opportunities that failed to ripen into coverage because the book quality, content, and timeliness falls short of delivering the quality needed to validate the needs of the media for their audience. That is the challenge with many a self-published author and publisher.