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Getting the Best Publicity

Guidance, strategy and steps to getting the best publicity

Getting publicity for books with “edgy” content

Getting publicity for books with "edgy" content can be very difficult

Publish-L author asked a question whether to include sex, violence, drugs and “edgy” content in a new Young Adult title. I offered up some thoughts from a publicity perspective.

Most of the prime media reviewers and many of the Internet and bloggers represent the socially conservative family oriented (hence G-rated) perspective. They actively embrace the clean and wholesome.

I have yet to see YA books that contain violence, sex, drugs and four letter words do particularly well with media. It seems that most of the adults simply nix the idea of sharing books that contain these elements with others. They cater to their audience preferences and opt for the safe and easy to promote so that they don’t suffer criticisms from those who find these elements distasteful.

Basically, while you may be able to persuade media people to take a look using news releases and phone calls that describe the books but don’t reveal or utilize these elements, once they get the book in their hands and see what it contains, you run a major risk of then being unable to get any positive reviews, and may in fact find yourself having to deal with the consequences of negative reviews.

Not that this should stop you, it’s just a factor I recommend you consider. My kids still rave about the Alana series, and witness the success of The Hunger Games. These books contain sex, violence, highly questionable behavior. Of course, quality content, style, and action packed edge of your seat writing may be playing so much more of a factor that reviewers will overlook any incidental elements they find to be distasteful within. And if the books are so good people will rave about them to each other in spite of their “edginess”, then you might not care about what media say, and in fact, it may not matter.

One of the other Publish-L participants noted that even the NY Times covers Young Adult books that contain sex, violence, and drugs.

This is true. It’s also not particularly relevant to the issue of promoting a new book from a lesser or unknown (or heaven forbid – self-published) author that contains these elements.

My point isn’t that you can’t get media to play with you once you climbed the mountain and achieved the level of a social phenomenon. You can. The fact that you’ve become a best-selling success makes the reporting of that news easy, safe, and trust worthy. The media are reporting facts. They are no longer taking a gamble on the book or the author. There is very little risk to them for publishing the news on this basis.

My point is that until you do so, getting media to play with you will be very difficult. After the fact reporting of success is much easier to acquire than coverage that helps you achieve success.

Persuading the media to give you media coverage before you’ve acquired a track record means you need to communicate and validate the quality, the value, and the importance of the writing and contribution without being able to demonstrate that tens of thousands of people agree with you and do in fact love what the author has created.

My point is that when you promote a book (or anything else for that matter) and seek to get media to share information about the book and the author, media look at that idea as a proposal for media coverage. You’ve got to answer to the three main questions that they use to make decisions correctly. These are:

1. How many people in my audience will be interested in this?
2. What’s in it for my audience?

The answer to both these questions has to be:

1. A LOT OF PEOPLE; and
2.. A LOT OF VALUE

Then you get to the third question the media asks.

3. What does it cost me to do my job?

The answer to this question has to be:

VERY LITTLE

This is because media editors will only invest staff time, energy, and publication resources into articles that help them sell more subscriptions or get more advertising, since that’s how they make their income and survive and thrive.

Good luck trying to persuade media to review a new just published book or interview an author of an unknown author of a book that’s filled with sex, violence, and drugs.

Can you imagine the how editors wince and cringe when little old ladies and god-fearing parents call up or write in and say they will no longer buy the publication because they are promoting such awful stuff?

Editors and producers will not give people coverage if doing so threatens their publishing income. Reporters and columnists won’t take the risks when they are so easily fired and replaced.

Yes, it’s sad that the world is like this, but this is the way it works and this is what really happens.

The point is that as writers and authors we get to make decisions about what to place into our works. We can think ahead and recognize what the people we will use to promote need to be successful and we can design, create and incorporate the elements that will enable them to utilize what we offer.

We can think ahead and do our best to write to sell. You just need to do so with your eyes open.

If you don’t think ahead and you create books that contain risky topics or course language, and you do so to express yourself or drive whatever points or agendas you may have, well, that’s your decision. It’s your publishing business and you take the risks. It’s your choice.

Just don’t be surprised when you then try to promote it and find out that it’s really hard to succeed.

Dealing with Media Rejection – How to Turn a No Into a Yes

How to turn a rejection from media into an acceptance and feature story media coverage

OK, you send out a news release.

You asked for a review, a feature story or an interview. You gave them options, incentives, access to data, photos, people.

They said NO! Is it all over? Is that all there is? Has the door to opportunity slammed in your face?

I don’t think so.

No rarely means No. It usually means not now. It means maybe later.

But it is up to you to figure out what do do.

And what you do is simple: You make another proposal. You offer to send another idea. You say, how about i call you back in two hours (after your deadline has passed).

Always pitch back another idea for something else. Never let the conversation stop. Take the action and get them to say yes to something that keeps the conversation going.

Media people have a job to do. Maybe your proposed idea just didn’t fit in with their needs or maybe they think it will take more time and effort than they can give. As them “Is there something I/We can do to make this more attractive? Is there more information we can send to you.”

If they still say no, ask them “How about something totally different? What about this idea instead?”

Ask them “What would you like to see us present to you?”

Find out what the media wants. Then give them what they need and make it easy for them to work with you.

That’s how you’ll get respect from media for being a valued contributor and a working professional they can trust and rely upon to help them do their job.

That’s how you’ll close more deals and get more of what you want, too.

Getting the media (and everyone else…) to pay attention and get interested

Getting the media (and everyone else...) to pay attention and get interested

One of the participants in the Independent Authors Guild list on Yahoo said:

> There is one question that I think all indi authors have asked themselves. How do the big publishers do it. I understand that authors like Dan
> Brown and Rawling can sell 10 million copies on release day, but before that. I remember years ago stopping in the book isle at Wall-Mart. I
> picked up this book called “Deception Point” by Dan Brown. …[]… But? How did he get his first novel on that Wall-Mart shelf? No one
> had ever heard of Dan Brown before.

I hear the frustration people have in seeking to break even and make a profit writing all the time. Just want to share some experience, perspective and some ideas.

Many years ago, Dan Brown was a poor starving author and an English teacher and his wife Blythe were struggling, seeking to achieve success and sales with his fiction writing. They hired me back in the days when I operated a business called Imediafax (we used to send one page faxes to media) and I worked for them to get publicity for the book Angels & Demons before Dan made it big with The Da Vinci Code. (If you have Angels and Demons on your shelf go and look, you’ll find my name in the acknowledgements).

Then as now, an author must first do his or her best and WRITE A GOOD BOOK. (That’s a separate question. But let’s just say, OK, you’ve written a good book.)

Then they must do their best to let the right people know that they have a good book. They must reach their target audience and entertain and educate them so that they are motivated to buy the book. Many authors don’t do this very well. Yet it’s crucial if you are to be successful. So I’m going to focus on this a little.

People’s needs haven’t really changed. Time and technologies have changed.

I think there are amazing opportunities for success in writing. In the US alone you have over 330 million people all of whom read, watch and listen to newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and all sorts of Internet and electronic media and communications devices. We’re trained from birth and indoctrinated in how to use these technologies.

What’s more is we are biological organisms and have five senses and we respond to stimulation in predictable ways. We laugh at the same jokes, we cry at the same sad stories, and we get turn on by beautiful half naked people. What even more important is that we can be stimulated to buy things. The media and producers have figured out how to do this and you can too.

It’s pretty clear that you have the opportunity to do really well IF you figure out how to turn people on.

The challenge is that you need to learn how to turn YOUR people on.

And once you learn how to do that, THEN you can use all the available technologies to reach people and stimulate them to action.

BUT if you don’t figure out how to turn people on first, then no matter what technologies you use, you really won’t have the effect you seek.

So HOW do you turn people on? HOW do you turn media on? That’s the challenge.

At least in my continuing experience and a publicist, it doesn’t matter whether you write non-fiction or fiction. The media does not really care about the book. They care about what you do to their audience with what you ask them to publish (in an article or a review) or use on a show (in a feature or an interview). It has to be so good that it helps them sell more subscriptions and advertising. This is how they make their income and this is what you have to provide if you want them to use your content.

So if it’s not the book, what is it?

My Answer: It’s about the issues you can talk about! It’s about the emotional engagement and interest you can capture!

As a publicist, I see this again and again. You can see the proof of it day in and day out in the media you want to be in. The question is how do you do it?

You have maximum success turning people on by getting jazzed up and energized and spontaneously raving about the issues you write about. It’s when you and revved up and all fired up that you generate the energy and the intelligence that galvanizes people’s attention. It’s those moments when you are at your best.

That’s what you need to identify for your all promotional efforts. You will be most successful with media, when you offer them a show or an article with you doing what you do best. It need not be very long. It just has to be really good.

So if you’ve written a book and are seeking to get people to buy that book, keep on talking to people about your book and your writing. Pay close attention to what you say and do when you create maximum interest and turn people on. You can also find much of this information in the reviewer comments and testimonials that you receive from people who read your book. They’ll tell you very specifically what you wrote that turns them on.

But remember that you can’t use the description of the book or the feeling as a substitute for the real thing. When you do promotion, you must deliver the communication that actually produce the feelings that trigger the interest and action.

That is what you have to place into the communications you use. You must learn what you say and do and then capture and repeat that messages. This is not easy to do, when you realize that each medium of communications you choose to use has its own format requirements.

So focus on identifying what you say and do that turns people on. Capture it! Repeat it several times in various settings and circumstances and make sure that it produces the action that you want to happen (as in people get so interested that they buy your books).

Then you can reformat and use all the technologies you want to repeat that message. Like Dan Poynter says, write it once and sell it forever.

Getting more publicity: The three key questions a news release answer

Getting more publicity: The three key questions a news release must answer

I cannot believe what is coming across the wire. So may people are still blasting out news releases that lack the essential information media need. What a waste.

If you want your news release to be maximally effective, it has to answer the primary questions for the media:

1. How many people in my audience are going to be interested in this?
2. What’s in it for my audience?
3. How easy is it for me to use this information (e,g., how much does it cost me to do this?)

Then it must present your proposed story, the facts needed to support and flesh out the story, your ideas, advice, or comments, your skills, experience, credentials and accomplishments in terms of that objective.

You have to offer media everything they need to run with the story using you and the resources you’ve arrayed if you are to meet their needs in today’s fast paced environment and the ever changing technologies we get to utilize.

Getting more publicity in newspapers means going beyond the book pages

Strategies and tactics for getting beyond the book review pages

One of my clients expressed her frustration in getting her local paper to give her coverage for a children’s book. Her local paper was The New Orleans Time’s Picayune.

I offer up some of the techniques I use to help identify how to increase your chances of being successful with them and other newspapers and media who cover children’s books.

Use the 3 I Technique and the newspapers’ own search engine.

The 3 I Technique consists of 3 steps:

1. Identify a Success Story (and use this for a model for your own pitch).

2. Imitate It (line by line).

3. Innovate It (with your own information).

Now go to the target media that you want to be in.

I went to Nola.com since this is where you want to be, but you could use Google News, USAToday.com, the NY Times, or any media that you want to target.

Now search on your key words: children’s book

I used the singular (book) to capture both articles that use ‘children’s book’ and ‘children’s books’

Here’s the search:

http://search.nola.com/children%27s+book?date_range=m11

The first set of results included several years’ worth of articles so I used the advanced search engine option to narrow the results to the past 18 months only.

Now start studying the articles. Look to see what the editors write and publish, who the journalists are, what the articles contain in the way of information about the books, the authors, and their stories.

Make a list of the key content you see and realize that this list reveals both the editorial style and readership interests of the media you are studying.

Now use the 3 I Technique and start writing headlines, leads, sentences, paragraphs, and ends that mimic the articles you see.

If you use this process carefully, when you get through you have created a draft article that will very likely have all the characteristics of a feature story that looks like it came right out of the media you are using. You’ve done this on the first try without much pain at all.

Now polish it up and turn it into a news release. Send it to your target media.

You can also now use this same news release and send it to a custom targeted media list of other media.

There are about 2200 media that you can pitch that will consider stories about children’s books and authors in the US and Canada.

This is one of the best ways I know to be successful when you try for reviews and stories.

If all you do is seek a book review, you are narrowing your chances of getting media coverage. Book reviews occupy a very small portion of the overall publication. You have far greater opportunity for media coverage if you expand your horizons and look at other sections of the publications you seek to be in.

To avoid the risk and stigma of being classified as a self-publisher and experiencing the negative response associated with such a determination, you must first make sure that your book has the quality and content of a professionally produced product. This is a given.

Assuming it passes muster, then you must then bring into your pitch for media coverage, news angles and story content that goes well beyond what is covered on the book review pages. You must be totally aware of the type of news, educational information, entertainment information, and human interest data that is used in the other parts of the media publication (or tv or radio show) that you want to be in. Then you must consciously and strategically array and incorporate this type of data and information into your news release.

If you look over the stories in the NOLA search you will see that they do appear to be quite discriminating in what they choose to publish. But there are media coverage opportunities you can aim at. The big area of opportunity appears to be in local book events with a strong community involvement element.

To maximize your chances, you must identify the topics and the content of the articles that you see and then propose and present comparable content.

Now there is a diversity of content demonstrated in the articles. Learn from them. Identify from these articles the characteristics and information that is deemed newsworthy and do your best to present comparable information about yourself.

Just realize that no matter what you do, the media you are pitching to may still have a standard for “celebrity” that may be very difficult indeed to achieve. In the case of NOLA, if you look over the articles they publish on children’s book authors, you will see that the “celebrity” standard is indeed quite high indeed. In the past year, it does not appear that they have even written on article about a local author unless he or she was indeed a best seller or had “national celebrity” status.

You may think that you deserve to be there, but these media may simply still decide that you do not have what they are looking for to justify the coverage to their audience. Accept it and move on. Don’t get in a slump over the media you can’t please. They are making editorial decisions that keep them thriving economically as publishers. Realize that they are very sensitive to the character of their articles and editorial coverage. There are economic reasons that force them to maintain rather strict policies on what they can publish, so as to avoid any loss of revenue. The “self-publishing stigma” is one of those areas. Imagine the consequences of giving media coverage to low quality books. Understand what happens to subscriptions and advertising revenue if the audience decides, that was a pretty poorly done book you wrote about. The quality of the paper goes down if the quality of the content fails to stay at the levels that the paying audience expects and demands. So realize and understand the plight of your fellow publishers. They too are trying to stay alive publishing.

My advice is to try your best, allow yourself to fail, and move on. Stay focused on working with the media that will allow you to reach the people that matter the most to you. Like my client Andy Andrews says “what you focus on get bigger”.

So focus on getting beyond the book pages. Use the 3 I technique to bring your proposal up to the caliber and style of the media you want to be in.

Then present it to that media and all sorts of other similar media who will be interested in this sort of content. You will find that when you use these techniques to create a quality media proposal that contains the type of information, you will see other media respond to that quality content as well.

You can use this combination of tactics any time to maximize your media coverage and success.

Go for it!

The Goal of a News Release

The Goal of a News Release

The goal of the news release it to get publicity and not to sell product.

My experience is that media view endorsements as marketing facts. I don’t believe that media care much about what other people think until they have determined that they are interested in the story first. Only then do the bio and endorsements act to validate that the author and the message are solid and can be trusted. They are not usually newsworthy in and of themselves (although there are no doubt exceptions, e.g., a Sarah Palin endorsement of a candidate).

Media are usually content based decision-makers who make their living publishing. So if you want to be in the media you need to help them do their job. But there are lots and lots of media and you need to give the right message to the right media. How do you do this?

First you have to know your book, author and content.

Then you have to identify your target audience.

To answer the question, “Can I reach this audience?” you ask, what do My People read watch and listen to, particularly when they are most receptive to taking the action that I want them to take?

That’s how you identify and target the right media. I use Cision to create these custom targeted media lists. Hitting the right media is one of the crucial steps because they are the only ones that matter.

Then you tailor your message to meet the needs of those media. To be maximally effective when you do create your pitch, you study these media and evaluate existing coverage for similar projects. You look over the possibilities based on what they do publish or produce, since this is how they make their living.

Then you create and give them a strategically written ready to go proposal for an article or a show that meets those needs using the very best content that the author and intellectual property you seek to promote has to offer.

That’s how you maximize your chances of success for any book, product, service or initiative. You give right media something newsworthy and value laden that’s designed to make them money their way.

This is a very difficult process. There is lots of uncertainty and if you mis-match the message and the target, you simply don’t get the best response.

So many people miss the boat and create general vague all purpose news releases that really are simply ads for the book. They don’t really even understand that media don’t care about the book. They only care about whether a news release pitch offers, news, education or entertainment that the audience will really enjoy, and that’s really easy to publish (e.g., doesn’t cost the media a lot of time, money or effort).

Media simply will not respond unless the pitch is really interesting and delivers exceptional value (news, education or entertainment) and the actions they are to take (write an article or do an interview) are logical, easy and quick.

You give the media what they need and they’ll give you what you want which is bona fide objective editorial high value content laden coverage that promotes the book and the author.

You give them a pitch that looks like an ad, you’ll get a response from their advertising reps. They’ll basically tell you, if you want an ad, pay for it.

How do you get book reviewers to look at your book?

An analysis of the ways to get more book reviews

How do you get reviewers to look at your book?

Getting reviews is to me just one form of publicity, and it’s not even the best form of publicity for generating sales.

I’ll try to explain how I perceive the process and seek to explain what I believe we are up against.

Book reviewers are people who review books and like many people, many of them are trying to make a living writing and publishing their reviews.

They are media! They are best viewed as fellow publishers who are writing to sell. They make money writing and publishers and make decisions based on how their writing and publishing impacts the number of subscribers and the advertising revenue the number of subscribers allows them to receive as well.

They have limited amount of time in a day they are forced to make decisions as regards what to read and write about. They choose to focus on the areas that interest them the most because they will write best about subjects that they care about the most. They also choose to spend their time on books that they will enjoy reading and that will interest their audience.

Even bloggers ask “what’s in it for me?” because they want to publish articles that at the very least increase the number of eyeballs on their blog and hence drive whatever income they make off their blog.

What they seek then is good books. Books that command attention and allow them to drive traffic.

So when you pitch a book to a reviewer you have to make them see and understand how reviewing your book will impact their income. You have to understand who they are, who they are writing for, and what that audience wants and are willing to pay for.

The pitch you send it very important because that news release is the very proposal that influences what they then do. A news release is not an advertisement. It is not designed to sell a book. It is a proposal for media coverage, and it explains what you have and why it is important and to whom. It also give the media what they need to do their job, or at least contains an offer by you to help them do their job.

So this pitch is very important.

Media look at this pitch even before they look at the product – your book. They ask three key questions:

1. How many people in MY audience are going to be interested in this?

2. What’s in it for MY audience?

The answer to both these questions has to be A LOT!

You have to demonstrate and even prove to the reviewer that lots of people will be interested and the story and content of the article they get to write and publish, or the show they get to produce and air (whether it’s radio or TV of even blog radio or streaming TV), has lots of news, education or entertainment value.

Those are the first two crucial hurdles. If you make it over those hurdles, you reach then next big hurdle.

3. How much time, effort, and money or people will it take for me to do
my job?

The answer to this has to be “so little I can make a profit”.

In other words, you hand them a ready to go published article or even a review that can be modified easily.

And that’s just to get them to even be willing to look at your book.

Then you get to send it to them. The book and package you send is the next decision point. This is where the rubber meets the road. What happens next is dependent on what they experience and how they feel with the book and your pitch in their hands.

What they first and foremost are looking for is VALIDATION. They need quality content that offers relevant timely and value laden news, education or entertainment for their particular audience. If it helps them sell subscriptions, you can get in.

That’s what you’ve got to communicate to them. That’s what you’ve got to offer and that’s what you have to deliver.

If you do that, you will succeed in getting them interested no matter what type of publisher you are. The door will open and media will let you present more information and you might get media coverage for you or your author and the book. Getting reviews and getting feature story coverage for an author and a book is a process.

So very simply, when you deliver the book and your detailed media proposal for coverage, the content and the quality have to be sufficient to carry the day.

Whether it is self-published or not doesn’t matter that much. Even if you publish as an ebook, the product format is not that important.

But the publication quality has to be good enough so that the media has the confidence in the credibility of the author and isn’t turned off and scared off.

It’s the essential validation that helps persuade another publisher that it makes good economic and business sense to publish a story and not regret making that decision later.

So what do you need to do?

You need to create a quality product. The cover has to be quality, the layout needs to be professional and the writing and content has to be quality.

Then you need to create a develop, test and re-test and refine your communications so that you have a persuasive pitch.

Now to me this is the miracle of the microcosm because we have 330 million media trained and indoctrinated people in this country and they tend to respond the same way to media communications. We laugh at the same jokes, cry at the same sad stories and get turned on by the same scantily dresses celebrities. We see media messages everywhere that are designed to get us to buy things.

The miracle to is that you can do this anywhere as long as you pay attention to what you say and do and learn what it takes to turn YOUR people on. You get this feedback whenever you speak about your book to people. You figure out whenever you make a sale what you said that resulted in the interest and the sale. You capture that.

Then you use it in your Marcom. You find out what to say that gets people to want more of what you have to offer. You use it to sell product and you use it to get media coverage and reviews.

What’s the very best galvanizing media publicity you can get that will produce the maximum ROI? I don’t think it’s a book review. I think it’s a three to five minute piece that galvanizes people with you doing what you absolutely do the best.

So how do you develop this? Here’s what I recommend you do:

Imagine being in front of 20 to 30 of the very best people you think would be most interested you and what you do. Describe these people so that you have a picture of who they are and what they look like.

Now identify the absolute most interesting topic, challenge, or problem situation you can think of, that will interest the maximum number of people just like them.

NOW give me your eight to ten best tips, problem solving actions, ideas, jokes, or lessons learned for this audience. Can you give these people your ten commandments? Can you knock their socks off so that half of them come flying out of their chairs with their pocketbooks or wallets open? (BTW that’s a 50 percent response).

I want you to pretend you have three to five minutes to give a these people eight to maybe ten absolutely phenomenal show stoppers. That means for ten items, you have less than 20 seconds or less for each one, plus a one minute intro and a one minute ending.

This is what we put into your news release. This is what you pitch to media people for reviews and articles.

The goal is to create a vision for the media that clearly illustrates and allows them to see in their minds — How you can help or entertain or educate the people you can help the most. You have to focus less on passive ideas and more on actions that people can take to deliver immediate or tangible real time or near term benefits, impacts, or predictable
consequences. This forms the core content to the news release/show
proposal pitch.

That is what you need to do to get more reviews, and better still, get more lengthy and detailed and galvanizing feature stories, which in my experience sell lots more books.

In a POD publishing world, you get to optimize this process inexpensively since your printing costs are so reduced. You also get to maximize the profits if you sell direct.

What you need to remember is that every media publisher has a unique audience and unique set of needs. And you need to address their needs if you are going to gain their cooperation and get what you want.

Case in point: I’ll give you a real life example from today. This is one of the most memorable rejections I’ve received of late and it illustrates exactly how media evaluate a proposal.

I wrote and transmitted a news release for a self-published POD author Eileen Dey, who wrote a book about Reiki. The book teaches about the benefits of Reiki. Veterans day is approaching and we have two live wars in progress so the news release focused on how war veterans and other people affected by post traumatic stress were enlisting Reiki in helping achieve relief. The targeted media list included personal health media, military and veterans, mental health and of course I included the new age media and those interested in paranormal phenomenon.

Media responded with requests for review copies and in many cases their emails indicated how they viewed the subject and the proposal. The medical media with a narrow focus on the evidence based medicine and a pathological basis were close minded since Reiki is not exactly mainstream medicine. Others who are more open to the Eastern alternative health practices and mind, body, spirit were favorable and interested.

The most noteworthy of the media responses of the day was this one.

The email came back from the editor of Witches and Pagans magazine. The editor said and I quote:

“Unless your author is a self-avowed Witch, Pagan, or Heathen, we wouldn’t be interested.”

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.

Book marketing – face to face up close and personal

Book marketing case study of book marketing success by a self published author

NYT Randy Kearse story
I love this. Here’s a story that illustrates one of my primary rules for getting publicity.

Take a look at The NY Times July 9, 2010 feature story about self published author Randy Kearse selling over 14,000 books by himself on the subways of New York City

This story illustrates The DPAA+H Rule. The story captures the five essential elements of a great human interest feature story:

It’s DRAMATIC and PERSONAL

It tells a story about a real person who seeks ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

Finally it adds in an element of HUMOR.

It’s all here and this story shows how it can be done.

This story illustrates another of my key concepts – The Miracle of the Microcosm.

Randy has developed an experience based communication script that captures his magic words that turn people on and get sufficient numbers of people to take action. They buy his books.

He has a specific goal and knows that he must present to enough people to hit his goal each day.

He has developed and documented a systematic repeatable process for achieving a known level of financial success each day.

The article talks about Randy in ways that make him very likeable and very approachable. Several of his books are also mentioned along the way and he is positioned as being a very helpful dedicated and innovative individual who seeks to achieve financial success while he does his best helping others.

This is a beautiful example of the best publicity one can get.

Congratulations to Randy Kearse.