Advice for self-published authors: Talking Book Publicity

Greetings from Portland, Oregon - where it is currently way too hot and I have no air conditioning.

One of the biggest challenges of my job is when I start working with a self-published author who is already far along in the self-publishing process.  It’s challenging for me because if the author in question doesn’t have the proper guidance, they may unwillingly make mistakes, many of which aren’t easily corrected.  There is nothing I dislike more than looking an author in the eyes and telling them that I found mistakes in their completed book.  I’m not a heartbreaker by will, only by trade.

Further, many self-publishing houses will fail to guide you properly because they are thinking more in terms of the printing process, and less about the marketing plan.  That is why you need an ally like me.

In the following blog entry I share some advice on how authors may avoid some common pitfalls in the self-publishing world.

Editing.

I keep saying it, and I will say it again - self-published authors need to pay good money for an editor before they go to print with their manuscript.  I can’t tell you how many “finished” manuscripts I’ve been presented with that are riddled with simple errors, and larger structural problems.  Talk to me if you think you might need an editor.  I will give you some free advice.  Seriously. 

Publicity.

Book publicity for self-published authors and traditionally published authors is and should be different.  Not in every case, and not all the time - but as a general rule.  

For starters, most self-published authors are publishing a book for the first time.  They may not have a resume stocked with writing experience to lend some credibility.  Further, many don’t use a proper editor, like I just discussed.  Credibility is often something that is lacking, and needs to be built up in other areas of your pitch.  What makes your book different?  What makes you as an author important?  What are you saying that needs to be heard?  Those are some samples questions you should ask yourself.

Also related to book publicity - another mistake I see time and time again is that an author will approach me AFTER their book has already been published.  Why is this a mistake?  Because by this point, the author has already lost the most relevant part of their news pitch … the actual "news" element.  

Check out the following example.  Which do you think goes over better with an editor at a newspaper:

"Hi, my name is Jimbo and I published a book five months ago and I am wondering if you will review it?"

or

"Hi, my name is Jimbo and I am publishing a book in three months.  Would you like to see an advance copy?" 

Surely, that example is a little silly - but my point is that in the second example you are in the very least providing the necessary “news” element for your target book editor/reviewer.  Don’t strip this advantage away from yourself.  

Sobering Advice.

No matter how well you are prepared, not every editor will be interested in reviewing your book.  The reasons are far and wide.  Maybe your book doesn’t fit within the traditional parameters of books featured in their column. Maybe they focus solely on local writers.  Maybe they don’t like the genre your book is written in.  There are many more variables.

That said, if you’re an unknown or first time author, and you’re insistent on getting some traditional media coverage, your best chance for book publicity is to stick to your local media.  It always helps to give the book editor more “news” to work with.  So try these helpful examples:

1.  Host a book release event. Partner with a library, coffee shop, or organization related to the content of your book.

2.  Provide a service.  If you wrote a book demonstrating some expertise on a specific specialty, like making gluten-free donuts for example, host a class and invite the public.  If you’re a fiction writer focusing on unicorns and trolls, host a fiction writing Meetup group.  Be an expert, share your expertise, build your credibility.

3.  Be relevant.  What part of your story will appeal to the readers of a given media?

Bloggers.

Finally, if you are a self-published author and have tapped local media, have been turned down by regional and national media, have exhausted the “news” element with your intended audience - try reaching out to bloggers.  There are thousands of bloggers eager to receive free books to review on their website.  They need content, you can help them.  

Social Media.

Instead of harassing a book editor and competing for their limited and shrinking print space, and competing with the other 211,000 self-published titles that have been printed during the past year - go after your friends in the social media realm.  Reach out to your target audience on Twitter.  Share some of your expertise in the form of a blog.  Buy some targeted Facebook advertising.  Start a profile on Goodreads, or Linkedin.  Host virtual book clubs using Google+’s free technology.

Summary.

Generating book publicity is challenging, don’t let anyone fool you or lead you to believe otherwise.  

But if you talk with a professional like me in the early stages you may ensure that you set yourself up with the proper infrastructure to put your best foot forward.  You can also ensure that your time and energy is taking you in the right direction.  

I look forward to discussing book publicity with you!

Here’s a handy flier with a list of my services. 

Here’s a handy flier with a list of my services. 

SCHAFFNER PRESS SET TO RE-RELEASE TODD GRIMSON’S VAMPIRE CLASSIC “STAINLESS” ON VALENTINES DAY

LITERARY ALERT

February 8, 2012

 

Portland, Oregon Author Recently Called “The Greatest Horror Writer You’ve Never Read” by UK’s Guardian Newspaper

Portland, Ore.  If the thought of another cookie cutter Valentines Day filled with cheap candy and superficial greeting cards leaves you utterly bored and wanting more, then perhaps you may find refuge in what Kirkus Reviews calls, “an erotic confetti shower that leaves you thrilled and unclean.” 

“Stainless” is a darkly romantic vampire novel set in a noir landscape of 1990’s Los Angeles and features a strong female protagonist named Justine.  Unlike the vampires that came before her, Justine does not shun crosses, she watches horror movies on television, and she sets upon her prey in an almost apologetic way, never killing her victims but leaving them unconscious instead.  

She soon finds herself entwined in a very human sexual relationship with Keith, a down-on-his-luck rock guitarist whose hands have recently been mangled by a gang of drug dealers.  Justine nurtures Keith out of his depression and addiction as he in turn becomes her lover and accomplice in her nocturnal predations.  The relationship between the undead and the living is realistically and tragically portrayed as Keith acts both as Justine’s enabler and unwitting nemesis and, in this classic role reversal, ends up having to destroy the one he loves in order to save her.

Vital Information.

Title: Stainless

Author: Todd Grimson

Publisher: Schaffner Press

Distributor: Independent Publishers Group

Release: February 14, 2012

ISBN: 9781936182237

Trade Paper: 5.5” x 8.5”

Price: $14.95 (CAN $16.95)

Page Count: 240 pp

Website: www.toddgrimson.com

Twitter: @toddgrimson

Facebook: facebook.com/toddgrimson

###

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Michael Phillips

The Neo Com Group

theneocomgroup@gmail.com

360-601-9984

On using Goodreads … tips for authors

Being a small business owner/entrepreneur is tough. 

I’ve been learning a lot of things the hard way - from employment laws to bookkeeping to tax laws to time management, and more.  We’re not even talking about the work required for my actual clients, or traveling, or upkeep of my work space or new business development.

But I must ask - how is one man supposed to do everything required of a small business owner?  

Well, I’m not drowning yet (despite working at 10:30 p.m.) and I’m still having the time of my life (despite working at 10:30 p.m.) and I can’t imagine anything else I’d rather be doing (despite working at 10:30 p.m.).

Earlier this evening a well-known author with Portland roots asked me to justify some various social media technologies.  Apparently he wants to give his book sales a real shot in the arm, and he’s looking for new ideas or opportunities to reach out to new or existing communities of people who might represent an ideal target audience for his book.  

After pounding out a carefully worded response, I realized that I should share that input with the world wide web.  After all, it’s not brain surgery nor is it exclusive.  If tumblr. can create a free social media platform that I can use as my interim website, then I can certainly share some tricks of the social media trade.

Before I go any further, I should point out that all of my thoughts and beliefs related to social media come from my development phase between 2007-2008 where I gobbled up the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, and anything posted by Jeremiah Owyang, and it’s come to remain interred within the recesses of my own brain, alongside such other novelties as the names of Lord of the Rings characters, chord progressions for Irish songs of rebellion and the locations of various objects from memories of my childhood home.  

Ahem, without further adieu.

THOUGHTS FOR AUTHORS RE: GOODREADS.

Goodreads is a social media platform that allows “readers” to categorize books they’ve read, chart the progress on books they are currently reading, or create shelves for books they want to read or that fit a specific category of their own manifestation.  

The Goodreads profile isn’t terribly dissimilar to Facebook or Myspace or any other social media platform, and allows users to interact with other readers using a simple interface with information including:

1. Your chosen avatar (photo)

2. Birthday

3. Website

4. Recent activity (on the site, specifically)

5. Favorite books

6. Bio

Additionally, your profile indicates the different bookshelves you’ve created for yourself and the books you’ve read, your ratings, and your friends as well.

My Goodreads profile is embarrassingly barren.  Well, embarrassing if I’m going to be a nerd about it. 

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5881192-michael-phillips

Outreach.

I have had success using Goodreads to introduce new titles, or expand familiarity with the titles I am working with.  

For example, I have encouraged the author Todd Grimson - whose novel “Brand New Cherry Flavor" was released this month - to remain active in adding books to his bookshelves and updating reviews for his favorite books.  I’ve noticed users of the site interacting with him based on the information he’s updated to his profile, as a direct result of these activities!  

Why do I consider this valuable time, well spent?  

Well in terms of advocacy for your work, nothing works better than building rapport with your fans, and that can’t hurt sales either.  

Author Pages.

Goodreads also allows authors to create pages, separate from the typical “reader” profile, and in a format similar to Amazon’s Author Central.  However, Goodreads is decidedly more reader-centric.  Whereas Amazon can give authors valuable data about where books are being sold and at what volume and on what day, Goodreads doesn’t quite have that ability.  (hey Goodreads - may I suggest a relationship with Indiebound?) 

Embedding Other Platforms.

Like Amazon’s Author Central, Goodreads allows you to embed social media content into their infrastructure so your page has the appearance of creating consistent new content, even if you aren’t regularly using the Goodreads website.  Using Todd Grimson as an example again, I helped him to embed the blog from his website into the Goodreads page, so that any time we update his Wordpress blog it automatically updates his Goodreads profile - giving the illusion of consistently generated updates - making the page feel fresher than it might otherwise.

Embedding Video.

On Bill Carter’s Goodreads profile I helped him to embed some great video from an interview he gave related to one of his books, so people can get a more rounded picture of the author.  In this video in particular, he discusses the topic of Pebble Mine, which has become an increasingly important issue in the time since the interview first aired.  It’s also worth noting because while he touched on the issue in his book, the issue gained steam after the printing - so the video allows for additional content for curious readers.    

You may note with Bill Carter’s page, we haven’t updated content in awhile.  That’s the game you play with social media, sometimes you just cannot find the time. 

Giveaways.

If you look at Todd’s Goodreads page again, we created a giveaway for 5 copies of BNCF.  Over 585 people have entered their names into the hat and the contest runs for another two weeks.  Of those participating, nearly 100 have elected to put it in their “To Be Read” folder - which is basically a function of Goodreads that helps users to remember books of interest - more or less a virtual “personal” bookshelf.

Again, while Amazon’s Author Central has some advantages over Goodreads - “Giveaways” may be an area where Goodreads has an advantage.

Conclusion.
Again, I tend to view social media technologies as less of a “silver bullet” PR solution, but each tool represents one tool amid a bucket full of them.  And by “tools” I am referring less to the people proficient in using the technologies, but more so to the actual social media tools: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Author Central, Google+, tumblr, etc etc etc 

I am not advocating one over the other, I think all authors should be active (or somewhat active) in whatever social tool relevant to their promotional goals.  

Each social media tool has its die-hard users, as well as passive participants.  The hope in using Goodreads is that we’ll connect with people who may have not been introduced to a given book via the other tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs or more traditional sources of information such as newspapers, magazines or literary newsletters. 

Editors Note.
Please excuse any grammatical errors or typos as I do not have any employees to review my work.