You’ve done all that you know how to do, but it still seems like the only one interested in your book is you.
Okay, maybe some friends and family have offered their support, but they’re supposed to do that. Your real problem is that you’ve done all you know how to do, but you still can’t seem to generate any buzz. You’ve sent out press releases, you’ve blogged, you’ve tweeted, you’ve called the media and you’ve sent out books to reviewers, but the response has been underwhelming.
I’ve seen this happen to authors trying to publicize their books and I can see why some people would begin to lose faith in their books and their messages. But, my point to you is you shouldn’t lose faith in the things that drive your passion. Maybe the problem isn’t your book; maybe it’s your approach to PR. Here are just a few of the common pitfalls I’ve seen:
- Too Close to the Canvas– In many cases, authors are so driven by what they have written that they tend to focus on their favorite parts of their topic instead of what might actually drive the media’s interest. One problem we sometimes find is authors who are too close to their subjects, and as a result, focus on elements that are so deep within their respective expertise that the messages they choose just don’t resonate with the masses. As an example, we’ve represented some authors with books about retirement planning. Their books had an emphasis on intricate tax laws and strategies that required a working knowledge about IRAs, 401Ks, and a variety of other investment instruments that are not common knowledge. Their instinct was to talk about the intricate details of these investment vehicles, which we of course advised against, as we knew it would fly over the heads of most people and would never get coverage in mainstream media.Our advice is to stand back from the canvas and look at your message with the eyes of someone who doesn’t know what you know. Then ask yourself; “What part of my message will people care about? What information and advice I have to offer would be of benefit to them?” Once you have answered these questions, you might see a completely different set of messages than what you are using.
- Sending Out Unsolicited Books– Editors and reviewers are inundated with unsolicited books, and they rarely, if ever, crack them open. Instead, the books typically sit in a pile in the back of their office until the stacks dominate their space at which point they get donated to the local library or a favorite charity.One of our rules in working on book promotion campaigns is that we don’t send out books blindly. After our initial outreach to the media, our policy is to only send books to those media contacts who have responded to our communication with an expressed interest in our client’s book and message. I firmly believe it’s a huge waste of money to send out unsolicited books to the media.
- Distributing Meaningless Press Releases – The print media landscape has changed dramatically in the last two years. Most major daily newspapers no longer employ book editors or staff reviewers. They no longer have the space for reviews, nor the revenue to pay for a writer to cover that area. When they do want to include a book section in the Sunday paper occasional, they typically grab copy from the wire services. Moreover, most lifestyle sections have been downsized in both space and staff. The New York Times has laid off more than 1,500 people over the last two years and they receive more than 500 press releases per day. Who’s reading them? Anyone? Daily newspapers, monthly magazines and Web-based news outlets don’t have staff sitting around waiting for a good press release to write about. And, the way most press releases are written, they typically require some level of action on the part of the news organization to respond to it. Yet, they don’t have the staff anymore, therefore, they rarely, if ever, respond. So, if you’re going to send out a press release, make sure it has valuable content and enough information that doesn’t require any action by the news media for it to be useful to them.
If you’re going to do your own PR, realize it’s a profession and there’s skill and knowledge you need to gain in order to be successful at it. It’s like trying to do home repairs. After a few tries to fix the pipe, if it still leaks, maybe it’s time to call the plumber. If you’re having some of these issues and you’re starting to lose faith in the message of your book, maybe it’s time to consider calling in a pro.