It’s an absolute must. If you want to sell your book to the masses, you have to get out there and publicize it. You need to be on the radio, in magazines and newspapers, on the TV and the Internet. The more the public hears about you and your message, the more likely it is your book will stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other books published every year. You probably already know all this, but you may not have any idea how to get started.
As many bestselling authors will tell you, print (both traditional and online) and talk radio campaigns are two of the best and most cost-efficient means for getting your message out to consumers. In fact, the combination of these two PR actions covers a lot of important media territory and will enhance other marketing and promotional activities that are in place.
But with different firms out there competing for your business, how do you choose the right one? What factors should you look for and which are the most important?
Below are some of the points to discuss with any PR firm you might employ.
- Experience counts. In the field of PR, book promotion is a very exact specialty. A top book publicity firm knows how to develop an angle from your book that will get you the most media mileage. They know how to write an effective press release that stands out from all the rest. And most importantly, they give producers everything they need to determine whether they want to schedule an interview with you.
- In what cities can you expect to be heard? If you’re paying a firm to obtain talk radio interviews for you, you don’t want to be booked in markets smaller than top 100. There’s no question that stations in smaller markets have value, but you don’t need to pay top dollar for someone to arrange them for you.
- What caliber of radio stations does the firm work with? As a point of reference, I can tell you the criteria our firm uses for the radio stations we work with. They must have at least 5,000 watts of power or above on the AM dial. The more power a station has, the broader it’s reach and the potential for more people to be tuned in.
- Do they pursue coverage online as well as in traditional newspapers and magazines? Today, every article printed in a newspaper or magazine is also published online, so a good print campaign delivers lots of Web coverage. Why is that important? More than 40 percent of ALL BOOKS sold in North America are sold on Amazon. This is not a percentage of online book sales, but rather, of all book sales, including retail locations. Barnes & Noble, even with their stores and online presence combined, only amounts to 29 percent of the market share. Translation—if you want to have a chance at getting people interested in buying your book, your firm needs to know how to drive the eyeballs online.
- How much of their work as a publicity firm involves the print media? Ask to see samples of articles they’ve gotten for other authors and look at the quality of the publications. The circulation (traditional print) and impressions (online coverage) are extremely important, but just as valuable are reviews and articles printed in smaller but high-prestige publications that are a perfect match for your topic.
- How long will it take to get my campaign in motion? This is where it’s so important to work with a publicity firm who understand the book business as there are important timelines that need to be followed for publicity, in coordination with the launch date of your book. You don’t want to be on the air, or have stories published in the print media, before the book is available for purchase. As well, if your publicity firm is going to pursue book reviews for you, they understand the lead times of book reviewers and long lead publications.
- Do they offer any guarantee? Search out publicity firms that work on a pay-for-performance basis. There are some good PR firms specializing in book promotion who use this model, which is highly unusual in the world of PR. Most PR agencies work on a retainer basis where they are paid monthly for their best efforts and there’s no guarantee for the client. So you want to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by a performance-based agency!
- How much is it all going to cost? For many authors this is the most important factor of all and hopefully you have a promotion budget in place. My recommendation to authors is to focus on radio interviews and print media as that’s where you’ll get the most cost-effective and broadest national coverage in the shortest amount of time.
There are many things to consider when it comes to book promotion, but these few tips cover some important basics.