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Is YOUR book newsworthy?

Continuing our PR theme…

Virtually every author thinks his or her book is fantastic. The reality is that most aren’t – especially (and unfortunately) most self-published books. Authors have great intentions, but they often lack skill and fail to recruit others to fill their gaps. Things like poor spelling, ridiculous grammar mistakes, meandering storylines, absent editing, and amateur cover designs are a handful of the most egregious sins that first-time self-publishing authors commit.

Person read newspaper

That’s not the worst part, though. The worst part is that they so often let their egos get in the way, refusing to even ask for input or advice until they’ve spent boatloads of money and effort, only to find they’ve created a mediocre book. I am a publishing consultant by trade, but I make it a practice not to offer advice unless asked. Many a self-published author has proudly given or shown me a book that I would never recommend, let alone purchase.

This may challenge you a bit, but I’m not willing to sugar-coat things just to make you feel better. That won’t do you any good. Here’s the straight scoop: newsworthy books are good books — usually REALLY good books. Newsworthy books give people — the media, in particular — reasons to talk about them. Newsworthy books won’t sell themselves, but they will lend themselves to word-of-mouth and interviews and retweets.

Here are some questions that may help you discover whether you’ve written a newsworthy book:

NONFICTION BOOKS

  • Is your book the first to point out a trend or raise an issue?
  • Do you have a unique approach for a well-covered subject?
  • Does your book raise thought-provoking questions on an important topic?
  • Does your book offer a behind-the-scenes look at a specific industry, celebrity, organization, or company that would interest the general public?
  • Is your book controversial, extreme, avant-garde, politically incorrect, and/or scandalous?
  • Does your book offer step-by-step instructions to solve a vexing problem?
  • Does your book inspire its readers to make sweeping life changes?
  • Does your book offer commentary on
    and/or a tie-in to an­other popular book/ movie/ TV show?

FICTION BOOKS

  • Is yours just another dog story, or is it about a family of ferrets?
  • Are the main characters rich and powerful, or people everyone can relate to, like a school teacher and a truck driver?
  • Do your characters follow traditional gender roles, or is the school teacher male and the truck driver female?
  • Is your book set in present-day America, or is it set in 1950s Havana, Cuba?
  • Do you write about real places, companies, universities, and religions — or go the safe route and fictionalize everything?
  • Is your book overburdened with lots of explanations, or do you use active verbs and descriptive nouns?
  • Are your characters ones bloggers or journalists will relate to?
  • Does your book inspire its readers to make sweeping life changes?
  • Does your book offer commentary on and/or a tie-in to another popular book/movie/TV show?

If you’re starting to realize that your book is less newsworthy than it could be, maybe it’s time for a rewrite.

Here’s to making your book newsworthy!

Laura (AKA Marcie Brock)

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation (phone or Skype). Or get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

602.518.5376 or phxazlaura on Skype

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Mistakes to avoid when starting a PR campaign

We’ve been spending some time these last couple weeks discussing PR and how to make it work for you.

PR involves telling the STORY of your book and creating RELATIONSHIPS with those who will share it

12 tips for a successful PR campaign

Many first-time authors make marketing blunders that cost them sales. While publicity and marketing are different sides of the same coin — getting out the word about your book — the mistakes and successes with each often overlap. If you are a new author about to ignite your first PR campaign, here are a few mistakes to avoid:

  • Waiting too long to start planning your PR campaignoops
  • Embarking on a PR campaign without a plan
  • Lacking the necessary confidence in yourself or your books
  • Having a fear of or aversion to self-promotion
  • Letting your discomfort dissuade you from approaching the media
  • Thinking you can do it all yourself
  • Believing PR isn’t that important
  • Assuming your publisher — if you have one — will do all the heavy PR lifting
  • Thinking too small
  • Failing to budget
  • Assuming it won’t take much work to drum up media interest in your books
  • Thinking that the reasons readers buy a particular book are the same things that make it newsworthy
  • Making one tiny unsuccessful stab at PR and quitting because “It just doesn’t work.”

Here’s to implementing YOUR successful PR campaign!

Laura (AKA Marcie Brock)

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation (phone or Skype). Or get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

602.518.5376 or phxazlaura on Skype

__________________

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12 tips for a successful PR campaign

You don’t have to hire a pro to initiate a successful PR campaign, as long as you realize it’s going to take some committed effort on your part. The following is a (partial) checklist of the things you will need if you intend to succeed.

  1. A goal. Of course your goal is to promote yourself, build your platform, and sell books. But PR-microphoneswhat’s the bigger “Why?”? Will your book change people’s lives? Make them laugh so hard they’ll remember your characters for years? Give you the chance to travel the world? Think beyond the obvious to the larger goal and vision for your PR campaign.
  2. A plan. This means a calendar with firm dates. It means knowing which media outlets you intend to approach, how you will pitch them, and how often. Begin with the end in mind (your release date is a good place to start) and work your way back from there.
  3. Lead time. The author who fails is the one who waits until his/her book is ready to go to print before beginning the marketing. You’ll want to begin your PR campaign at least six months prior to your book’s release and launch, including some pre-launch news releases.
  4. Research. What do you know about your target audience? Who are they? Where do they live? What are their hobbies? Where and how do they buy books? Where do they spend time online? Which blogs do they read? Which magazines do they read? How do they get their news? It’s impossible to craft a successful PR campaign without knowing the answers to these questions, at minimum.
  5. Great writing. Writing news releases is radically different from writing almost anything else. It’s not necessarily impressive writing, but it’s important that you know how to do it properly. News releases follow a specific format and style (this post should help). Writing your releases may feel clunky and awkward at first, but you will improve with practice.
  6. Diversity. Plan to approach and utilize a variety of media resources: radio, Internet radio, television, print, social media, bloggers, etc.
  7. Cash flow. You may not have a big budget, but you may have to put in some cash if you want to run a successful PR campaign, whether it’s buying a list or just having a professional marketing person look over your news releases before you send them out. The less you can (or want) to do yourself, the more money you’ll have to be willing to spend.
  8. A team. Trying to do it all yourself may seem like a valiant idea, but it’s often a foolish one. Who among your contacts can help you: make connections in the media, review your releases, encourage you when you’re down, help you meet your deadlines, etc.?
  9. Sticktoativeness. Promoting your book — particularly if it’s your first book — will take time. There’s no magic bullet. It may take a while, but if keep showing up, you’ll get there.
  10. Flexibility. Life is life, so curve balls will come your way, and not all will go as planned, in spite of your best efforts. Be ready to go with the flow — no melt-downs or losing hope because of a few inevitable hiccups.
  11. Updates. Chances are that you once you get going, you will need to reevaluate and perhaps adjust your initial plan. Some things will work better than you thought; others will not work at all. Regularly revisit your plan and shift strategies, as necessary.
  12. Implementation. All the planning in the world won’t help the best strategy in the world get off the ground without implementation. If you’re a great planner, but not a great doer (say you struggle with follow-up, for instance), you’ll want to get someone on your team who will help you execute the plan.

Lastly, remember to celebrate your successes. Take time to enjoy the wins, as they will likely be hard fought and so very sweet. Remember those feelings as you move forward and hit future snags. Above all else, keep moving forward!

Here’s to implementing YOUR successful PR campaign!

Laura (AKA Marcie Brock)

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

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PR involves telling the STORY of your book and creating RELATIONSHIPS with those who will share it

It’s been a few years since we focused on media releases – and in that time, the “news” has continued to shift. There are fewer papers, more online media outlets – making story of your bookvideo hugely important, and bloggers continue to wield a mighty keyboard. If you’ve written a book, one of your primary goals in marketing it is getting the word out about it. And reaching readers en masse is still an important goal that media releases can help you accomplish.

In order for the media to take an interest in you and your book, you must first learn to craft the story of your book(s) and then give the media a reason to help you tell it. This means you must learn to think like a journalist, editor, program director, or media blogger. What kinds of stories interest them? What kinds of experts do they look to for explanations and background information? How can you help make their hectic jobs easier?

If you want to succeed at getting the media’s attention, you must:

  • Have a book that is promotable.
  • Offer interesting details about your personal background.
  • Radiate confidence, passion, and a winning personality.
  • Be willing to do whatever is necessary to build your platform.
  • Put in the right combination of cash, time, effort, and energy.
  • Exhibit exceptional creativity — or have someone on your team who does.
  • Understand that sometimes luck is a significant factor.

It is possible to generate media coverage through a news release you write yourself. A well written media release, put in front of the right editor or news programmer at the right time, can generate a story — regardless of whether you hire a PR person to write it for you or you write it yourself. Follow THESE tips to write your own release.

A successful PR campaign involves more than just giving away free downloads/chapters/books, tweeting, making videos, or media release blasts. It is about making a persistent, strategic effort to reach the influencers and get the media coverage that will help you grow your platform and build a following of devoted readers.

In order for your media campaign to succeed, you must view it as a conquerable challenge, not an impossible feat. Begin by building relationships with reporters, producers, bloggers, and others in the media and make yourself an invaluable resource to them. Twitter is a great place to begin.

Here’s to getting more eyeballs on your book!

Laura (AKA Marcie Brock)

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________COVER

Want to learn lots more about launching a successful media campaign to help you build your author platform? Get my comprehensive book, The Author’s Media Tool Kit today!

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Why should a salesperson think about publishing an eBook?

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a guest on the BlogTalk Radio show of my friend, the elite sales coach and trainer, Connie Kadansky. Connie specializes in teaching sales people to “get their ask in gear” and helping them overcome Sales Call Reluctance®. It’s something almost all of us who are in sales (yes you, my dear SBMs*, are in sales!) face at one time or another: the fear of prospecting and/or self-promoting.

Connie interview

The topic of our conversation yesterday was “Build Your Credibility with Prospects by Publishing an eBook!” As many good talk show hosts do, Connie offered me the list of questions she would ask in advance so that I had time to prep my responses. Her questions and my prepared answers are below. However, you should still listen to the interview: (a) to see how closely we stuck to (or varied from) the script, and (b) because she threw in a couple of great examples that were unplanned.

I think that’s the key to a great talk show – preparation that allows for flexibility and impromptu questions and responses. It’s also why when you’re preparing to do live radio or TV, you’ve got to be ready to answer any questions the interviewer might throw your way. I had a client one time who wanted to know how to be “absolutely sure” she would know in advance all of the questions the interview would ask. She was extremely worried that she might receive a question to which she did not have a prepared answer, and she was quite unhappy when I told her there would never be such a guarantee. You always have to be prepared for anything because a cagey interviewer may hit you with something utterly unexpected. (I understand Phoenix’s own Pat McMahon has a reputation for this type of surprise questioning.) Generally, though, the interviewer wants the show to go well, which is much more likely if the interviewee has an idea of what’s coming.

Here are Connie’s pre-planned questions and my planned responses:

1. Laura, the first thing that comes to mind when salespeople think about writing anything is anxiety around not being a good enough writer.  How can you ease the anxiety so people will open up to the opportunity to write an eBook that could put them on the “map” so to speak?

Writing is the technical skill of putting words together so that they make sense and properly convey our ideas. But we do that – put words together and convey ideas – every day when we talk to people. So if you can talk, you can probably put a book together fairly easily. It’s just a matter of getting someone to help you organize the words once they’re on paper. I think that putting the book together is the easy part. I – and lots of others out there – can help you with that. But what I cannot do is give you a meaningful message if you don’t already have one.

2. How important is the “why” behind what they are wanting to accomplish?

Many people will tell you that they’re in business to make money. But money, while important, is ultimately an empty motivator. Being emotionally connected to the “why” gets you energized – you can’t wait to go out and talk to people about what you’re selling, and they will see your genuine enthusiasm and respond. Even if they don’t buy from you, they’re more likely to recommend you to someone else who might need your product or service.

3. You indicate that salespeople must know what their message is. . . how do you help salespeople get clarity on that message?  They just want more customers and to sell more of their product or service.  How do you help them dig deep into understanding what their market wants?

The first thing I do is ask questions. Then I listen to the answers. There are three important ones to focus on first: (1) Who is your audience? (2) What is the ONE thing you want them to know – the thing they’d go home and tell their spouse about, or post on social media? (3) Why are YOU the person to share this message?

4. You indicate that people need to know who their audience is – audience meaning who is going to read their material – what are the different components on knowing who the audience is?

Most authors’ goals are to sell books – to lots of people. Makes sense, right? But the best way to hone in on your audience is to know the ONE person you’re trying to reach with your message. Studying their demographics and psychographics. Demographics are the measureable things like age, education, and marital/parenting status. Psychographics, on the other hand, are the things that make your reader unique, such as their personality traits, values, and attitudes. I encourage my authors to know that they are writing to Jane Kowalski – a 32-year-old teacher, no kids, master’s degree, who lives in a Chicago suburb, attends church occasionally, works at an animal shelter on the weekends, and aspires to climb Mt. Everest.

5. This eBook can be a PR tool – it connects them with the “outside world” so to speak – a credibility tool. How important is it that they be specific on what they want to accomplish going back to “they just want more customers?”

It’s essential. The thing is, we all want more customers. We wouldn’t be in sales – or in business, for that matter – if we didn’t. But we need to get underneath the thing we’re selling to the reasons we’re selling it. What will it do for the customer? How will their life benefit from it? How will their life change? What will they be able to do after buying your product or service that they couldn’t do before? Your eBook will answer those questions – or it will explain why you are the best person to provide them those answers. Hopefully both.

6. How does someone share value without “giving away the store?”  Recently, I heard a marketing coach telling people to stop blogging, because they are solving all the customers problems and people don’t need to buy from them.  What are you thoughts on this comment?

I hear this all the time and I couldn’t disagree more. This is a perspective that comes from lack. “If I share what I know, you won’t hire me because I just gave it to you for free,” rather than “If I share what I know, it demonstrates my expertise so you will know I’m good enough to hire.” Not to mention that a typical blog post can only scratch the surface. If all you know is what you can put into a 500-word blog post, you’re not very good at what you do, are you? Your eBook should demonstrate the problem and offer the answer in broad strokes. The customer will still need to hire you (or buy your product) for implementation of the solution.

7. If someone were to call you today with a vague idea of an eBook, what process would you put them through and how long would it take?

I would arrange a phone interview with them and begin by asking the 3 questions I mentioned above. I would ask them what, besides “Do Business With Me” would they want their prospect to do after reading their book? What information does their reader need to know? In what format do they already have that information? Is it written down somewhere? Could they dictate it? Put it into bullet points? Write it as one long 6-page paragraph? Would a series of recorded interviews be the best approach to getting it down? What call to action would they want to leave with their readers/prospects? Depending on the author, it can be a few weeks or a year. We’ve turned around eBooks – cover design, content, editing, layout – in 3 weeks for the right clients.

8. Do you have an offering for our listeners so that they can connect with you?

Your listeners should check out http://bit.ly/Anatomy_Launch for access to a free special report I’ve written to guide them through the launch of their book. Don’t do what far too many new authors do and wait till you have your book in your hands to begin marketing it! Read this report so you can learn how to start marketing the second you start writing.

Laura

* Savvy Book Marketer
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Are you playing Hide & Seek with the people who are trying to connect with you?

I’ve been on a bit of a rant lately about contact information – or lack thereof – because it’s SOOO

How about an old-fashioned phone call?

crucial to your marketing campaigns. Again, it seems so obvious that we shouldn’t have to talk about it, and yet, I see it again and again and again: people neglecting to make themselves easy to connect with.

This all started out with did a post I did a few weeks ago with this piece of advice: Make your blog user friendly by including your e-mail address up front where everyone can see it. Yes, it’s possible that someone would want to contact you directly, via a mechanism other than the comments.

Here are a few other REAL-LIFE examples.

WEBSITE

Most web designers know to include contact info somewhere on the website, but many miss out by making it way too hard to find. The best strategy is to include your contact info visibly, on every page. Please don’t do what I’ve seen so many websites do, which is bury the contact info on a Contact page that is buried on an About page that I’ve got to dig through a menu to find. Remember, you’re in the book business, so make it easy for people to do business with you!

SPEAKER HANDOUTS

I recently attended an event where a speaker did a pretty nice job with a presentation about SEO. She distributed handouts with good information the audience could take home and implement. But nowhere on the handouts did she put any contact information for herself. No phone number. No email address. No Facebook link. Not even her name. Good golly – was that a missed opportunity or what?!

MEDIA RELEASES

I attended a panel discussion a couple years ago where various members of the Phoenix media offered words of advice to the audience about submitting media releases. One reporter said his biggest problem was when the news releases didn’t contain contact information – and all the others on the panel immediately nodded their heads in agreement! Seriously? You’re contacting the media about doing a story or promoting you in some way and you don’t include your contact info? How is that possible?

Of course, today most media releases are done electronically, so at the very least an e-mail address is attached. But if you submit your release as a Word doc or a PDF attachment, make sure your contact info is on it! You can easily imagine these reporters’, editors’, and producers’ inboxes filling up with release after release from people just like you. If they decide to follow up on a particular release, they might just print it and dump the e-mail. If your contact info’s not on the actual release, trust me – they’re not going to go back into their e-mail trash and try to fish it out. They’ll just move on to the next release that does include contact info.

BUSINESS CARDS

OK. I get that we’re inundated with e-mail and some people misbehave when it comes to adding folks to their mailing lists. Unfortunately, handing someone a business card with an email address on it is often construed as tacit acceptance to be added to such a list. That being said, isn’t the whole idea of a business card to make it easy for people to contact you? Again, you’re in the book business, so make it easy for others to do business with you by including all of your contact info, including e-mail and snail mail addresses. Today, this especially means including your social media contacts. Save them the trouble of having to go to your website and hunt down some remote Info@MyBlog.com or Web@MyDomain.org address.

However, you needn’t be the person who lists every form of contact under the sun: Phone. Direct line. Cell. Home. Fax. Home fax. Pager. I’m reminded of Drew Barrymore’s scene in He’s Just Not That Into You when she does the rundown of how our myriad connections play out in dating scenarios.

DO NOT do this with your card!

OK you get the message. Remember why we brand and why we use particular colors or fonts. We want people to remember us. So when they do want to contact you, make it easy for them to reach you!

Happy connecting!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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How will you use your EXTRA DAY this year to promote your book?

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher decided to teach us history by putting on  a play with characters representing all the holidays in February. I’m not sure how every student in a class of 25  found a role and I don’t remember my lines, but I’ve never forgotten that Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15. My mom took me to Goodwill to look for a dress for the costume. Amazingly, we found a stained off-white lace dress in my size. After two runs through with packets of powered Rit Dye, we managed to turn it a ghastly shade that wanted to be Kelly green. “Better than the stain,” my mom reassured me when I complained of the hideous hue.

The play wasn’t memorable for much else, except that I was probably fonder than most of the Susan B. Anthony coins that were released a few years later. In the last 35 years, the Super Bowl has moved to February, and this year we’ve also got Leap Day two extra characters for any fourth-graders out there who might be vying for roles this year.

In addition to the obvious holidays, February also has been declared:

• Black History Month
International Expect Success Month
• Book Lovers’ Month
International Boost Self-Esteem Month

SBMs, I suggest you put on your Savvy Book Marketing hats and start thinking about how you could use one or several of these commemorations and/or holidays to promote your book. What are the obvious links? What are the less-obvious links?

Black History Month, Book Lovers’ Month, Boost Self-Esteem Month, and Expect Success Month each has a fairly wide range, meaning there are likely natural tie-ins to books on myriad topics. Likewise with the ever-popular Valentine’s Day. At the very least, apply the Expect Success thoughts to your own book marketing campaign!
Here’s what I suggest:
First, do some brainstorming. Come up with 10 or 15 ideas for promoting your book this month. Then, narrow it down to the Top 3:
  1. Make one easy and obvious.
  2. Make one a bit of a reach, but doable.
  3. And make one something that will really stretch you.

If you’ve never written a media release, let this be your debut. If you’ve been sitting idly by on your social media sites, it’s time to jump in with both feet. If you’ve never planned a big event, plan one; then write a media release and use social media to promote it!

Happy February!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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