Pre-planning is important to your future book’s success
If you’re getting ready to work on your next book, here are some things to consider before you start:
• Know your competition. How can you make your book better than what’s already out there unless you are aware of your rivals?
• Include marketable mentions. Hoping to sell quantities of your book to a corporation? Include the name of the organization and a quote from the CEO. (Conversely, you might choose not to mention names to keep the content generic so it can be used in a number of different companies.)
• Create a bookmark. This can be an inexpensive way to leave a reminder with people about your book. Be sure to include information about where the book can be purchased.
• Think publicity and marketing before you write. Considering your market and how you will publicize the work before you start writing will make your promotion job much easier when the book is ready to sell.
• Be generous with excerpts. What better way to sell your work than to give the reading public a sample to get them hooked? If your book is non-fiction, you can also create articles to post online that relate to the book’s topic, then list the book and where it can be purchased at the end of the article. Give a little; get a sale!
• Be Persistent!
Whatever you do, don't abandon your book promotion plan if it's not working right away. Stick with it and adapt. If one promotional technique isn't working for your book ... move on to the next. Your book has a message and that message needs to reach the customer.
• Can You Get Me on Oprah?
by Dan Smith
As publicists, the number one question we get is: "Can you get me on Oprah?" Or, clients give us a declarative statement: "The only thing I want is to get on Oprah!"
Here are some insights on the "Big O" which might help put the Queen of all Media in perspective as it relates to book promotion.
Oprah certainly is the gold standard of book publicity; an appearance on her show can indeed make a book an overnight sensation and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Her stamp of approval can instantly take an author to the major leagues. Her power is undeniable.
But ... Oprah also creates some problems in the book publicity world, and at times, has actually prompted authors to make awful promotional decisions. Authors with books that might be a good fit for her show, or people who have expertise in topics she covers should always try to get on the show. The only way people get on her show is because they try. You will have no shot if you don't take a shot. However, authors can develop an obsession with Oprah, and fixate on appearing on her show to the detriment of their promotional campaign.
The stark reality: The odds of getting on the Oprah show are akin to playing the lottery. Even if your book is a perfect fit the show, her producers (and she has dozens of them) receive hundreds and hundreds, perhaps even thousands of books each and every week. The producers also receive at least 100 pitches from publicists and authors every day, and I'm talking each producer. Some great books, undoubtedly, get lost in the piles and just never get seen. Others are put aside due to bad timing, such as a show recently taped on a similar subject.
As publicists, we engage in a structured and persistent follow-up program to producers, but this only slightly increases the odds. Putting all of your promotional eggs in the Oprah basket is simply a bad decision. And believe me, we've had authors who have done this.
The 'Oprah Effect' spills over in various negative ways. Some examples of things we've heard from authors:
• "Getting all types of other publicity is fine, but my book is only going to really sell if I get on Oprah."
• "I will pay you $100,000 if you get me on Oprah."
• "I want to UPS myself to the Oprah producers in a box with some air holes"
• "Can you get me her address, I want to camp outside her home."
• "I want to put a billboard up in Chicago with a message for her."
I could go on and on with examples. While many of these are funny, they drive home the point I'm trying to make: Oprah is something you should try
to get on, but understand the odds and appreciate the full spectrum of book publicity. There are tens of thousands of media outlets out there, and you have the potential to achieve great success without Oprah.
Also, keep in mind that not every book is right for Oprah. If you watch the show, take note of the types of authors and experts she has on.
So ... if you and your book could make a good fit for her show, go for it! But look at the big picture, and fight against being lured into obsession.
• 5 Power Publicity Tips
1. Go old school, and actually utilize the good old USPS to reach out to media. In a time when the vast majority of business communication is e-mail, think how refreshing—and attention-grabbing—to actually mail a press release and pitch letter to a producer or editor. The receive so few mailed press releases, chances are they'll open it and actually read it!
2. When sending a book, fold the press release with the type showing out when you insert it with the book. This may sound a bit odd, but mailing experts will tell you it makes a substantial difference in terms of getting something read.
3. Send your book via FedEx or UPS for overnight delivery. This does two things: 1) the recipient may believe that since its been over-nighted, they probably requested it, and 2) something sent overnight gives it a clear sense of being important.
4. Never use Amazon.com reviews in your promotional pieces. Everyone knows that anyone can post a review on Amazon; consequently, such reviews have no impact at all. The only exception to this is media outlets or legitimate and recognized reviewers post their review.
5. Set realistic expectation for book sales, and how fast they will happen. Of course, every author wants to sell books, preferably millions. Especially for first-time authors, realize that you need to be in the publicity game for the long haul, and that it takes time to create that all important buzz which typically translates into sales. If you stick with it, whether on your own or with an agency, chances are good you'll see some decent sale numbers.
• KNOW YOUR BOOK’S AUDIENCE!!!!
When someone asks you, “What is your book’s target market?” You should have a definite answer. To say “everyone” is not good enough. You have to have a focus for marketing and publicizing your book. Trying to market your book to “everyone” is like trying to personally talk to everyone in the world — you just can’t do it.
You had to have someone in mind when you were writing, a specific group of people who would benefit more from your words than anyone else. That group is your target audience. Everyone out there wants to know how what you’re selling will benefit them — if you can’t tell them specifically, then they won’t buy.
What’s the #1 Rule in book marketing and publicity? Know your audience!
• AUTHORS, YOU ARE YOUR OWN BEST SALESPERSON
Remember ... just because you’ve published a book doesn’t mean anyone knows it exists! While your book has been the most important thing in your life for quite some time, no one else is really aware of it. Tell everyone you meet, email, deal with in any way, “I’m the author of (insert your book’s title). You would benefit from reading it because (give them an example specific to them). Make everyone think they NEED to buy your book because they will benefit from it personally, and you will sell copies! You are your book’s best salesperson — get to work!
• USE YOUR THESAURUS!
Avoid using the same old words to describe the same old thing, the same old way every time! For instance, instead of writing “The old cowboy rode his old horse into the old ghost town.” Spice it up. Write: “The stench of something sinister lurking in the shadows made an involuntary shudder dance down the ancient cowhand’s spine as he listened to the clip-clop of his tired nag’s hooves echoing off the empty buildings. As the “old” saying goes…paint a word picture. Take readers into your story and make them love it there.
• YOUR COVER HELPS SELL YOUR BOOK
Ya Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover … but you sure can sell books that way. When picking out your book covers, look at other books in your genre and show off your cover ideas to those around you. If your feedback isn’t strong, change it—change it—change it BEFORE YOU PRINT IT! That cover has to grab a reader and shake them into reading your promo on the back. Then you got ’em!
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works fixed in a tangible medium of expression, and covers books published and unpublished. Many people use the “poor man’s copyright,” or practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself. There is no provision for monetary compensation with this method, and it is not a substitute for registration with the Library of Congress.
Copyright is not a patent or a trademark—Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, though the way they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from others.
When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Do I have to register with the Library of Congress to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”
Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.