I’ve been doing PR and marketing for both authors and small companies for over a decade now. I have learned a lot from every campaign and every new venture I have taken on. When I think back to my most successful campaigns, they were the ones in which my clients were active participants in both the brainstorming stage and the execution. They were the ones that were ready to put their names and faces out there. It is impossible to raise an author’s brand recognition and boost sales of books without the author being fully ready to catapult him/herself into the spotlight.
Business here at RTC is growing. It’s a combination of doing good work and getting valued referrals and the fact that there is a higher demand for the work I do. In September 2010, Alice Jackson guest blogged for me. She started her post with this statistic:
“The need for public relations professionals is expected to increase by 24 percent, a greater increase than any other profession, until 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.”
I believed it at the time but now I am seeing it in action. I will speak specifically to the publishing industry even though this fact can be applied to just about any field in need of good representation. When I started at Penguin in 2001, there were so many campaigns on my plate. I quickly noticed the ones that garnered the best results were the ones with authors who politely spoke up—offered their ideas and wish lists – the authors who were the most engaged. While many say the industry has been in crisis for years (at least as long as I’ve been marketing books) claiming that there are more books and authors than media outlets for coverage, I no longer think that is true. What we are seeing now is actually progress. There ARE even more authors than before, but finally the avenues to promote them seem equal to the challenge. In 2001, blogs were not around. Social media was a glimmer in innovators minds. Now we have all of this and we need qualified professionals dedicated to managing all the mediums for marketing authors’ great work.
Traditionally published, indie authors, e-book authors and self-published authors are all finally on even playing field. The leg up for anyone is having a team in place to market—which is when they often come to me. Going it alone is not recommended. Until the author makes the conscious decision to self-promote, it can be overwhelming to think about. Often, authors are introverts. Creative minds that like to spend their time writing, which is generally best accomplished, you guessed it: alone. To be a good writer and a good promoter is often a dichotomy that can be hard to bridge. This is why having a marketing team or a PR specialist is so important. BUT, the best results will be achieved if the author is engaged and willing to promote him or herself. Once that decision is made, there is a very exciting period, filled with limitless possibility. But the work is really just beginning. It is my job to open opportunities for my authors but it is up to them to seize these opportunities and close the deal.
In October I went to the Novelists, Inc, conference. It was filled with mostly big house multi-published authors. Some authors had 20 or more books under their belt but were just learning about self-promotion. It was a packed 5 days of marketing knowhow. By the time my panel arrived that Saturday, the authors were overwhelmed. They had no doubt learned a lot in a very short period of time. But as I always say, it’s important to keep learning, keep your mind agile and open to new possibilities in order to have the best chance at true success.
My trip toChicagoin February was so rewarding. I hosted a happy hour with all myChicagoclients new and old and met with them one on one. What made it so great was to feel the excitement! Many of my authors are investing in self-promotion for the first time. They have lots of questions. The key to success for an author is: to learn about the service you are paying for, be engaged in the process and have patience. I believe in ROI (Return on Investment). However, the formula for book sales is different for each book. It takes trying a lot of things to get a winning combo. Sometimes I see results right away and sometimes it can take as long as a year for a campaign to bear fruit. But there is always a break if we keep our eye on the goal.
I hope you are reading this because you have entered the world of self-promotion or are thinking of doing so. It’s an exciting ride. One I love being the tour guide for. I will be hosting more happy hours and getting to know many of you this year. I can’t wait!
I would like to leave you with some homework. Before hiring a publicist, marketer or put a full marketing team in place, ask yourself the following questions.
- Are you overwhelmed on the ins and outs of social marketing, blog outreach and traditional PR? Do you see more opportunities than you have time for?
- Are you scratching your head at the 3 terms I just asked you about?
- Do you need guidance navigating this new world?
- Are you looking to garner more book sales? A bigger advance? More name recognition?
- Has your work been well received but you feel there are more readers to reach?
- Has someone told you branding is essential to success?
- Do you want to tap into the e-book market?
- Are you willing to invest in the short term for long term success?
- Are you patient?
- Are you ready for the work that will be created by an active campaign?
This blog post is dedicated to two of my best self-promoters:
1) Tina Folsom who came to me with a lot of self-promotion under her belt and takes a brainstorming session very seriously. She certainly doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet!
2) Sam Reaves who made the leap to hire me in January. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed he came to the Chicago happy hour interested in learning the ins and outs of Facebook. We couldn’t tackle it that night but now he’s on the right track!