I began promoting authors and books to the media in 1989, working for a small publisher. I went on to do the same at another independent book publisher. Since then, I have worked with more than 1,000 authors and launched many books in all genres. For the past 17 years I have served as the chief marketing officer for the nation’s largest book promoter, Media Connect.
We have seen many changes in the last quarter-century, from how books are sold and produced to how they are promoted and reviewed. Thriller authors certainly have witnessed a lot of changes and seen an increase in competition. Ebooks have exploded, though the rate of growth has slowed greatly.
The media opportunities for thrillers are now primarily in radio and online media. There used to be more opportunities with print book reviewers and media in local tour cities. No longer. Few authors conduct 10+-city tours like they did 25 years ago. Everything is done by phone, skype, email, and social media.
Below are five things I wish authors would know and take to heart before they launch their next book.
- Know thyself. Honestly determine what you are capable of doing when it comes to publicity and marketing. Identify what you would really like to do to promote your book. Perhaps you like tweeting and blogging but not going on to You Tube or contacting radio shows. Maybe you like scheduling book signings but you don’t have the time or a desire to contact the news media. Plan at least six months prior to your book launch and then execute each step, one by one. Hire someone to do things you know you won’t get to do–because of time, ability, or preference. You can’t just ignore key areas of your publicity.
- Diversify your public relations campaign. Look at this the way you would when planning your financial portfolio. Target as many types of media as possible, from leading social media and radio to television and print. Vary it between local and national media. You should target specific subject areas that match with your book reader demographics. Don’t rely on just one type of media. Additionally, aside from the news media and digital media, don’t forget marketing to bookstores, libraries, non-bookstores, organizations, clubs, associations, companies, houses of worship, schools, etc.
- Write a promotable book. Authors must not only produce a well-written book that is timely, appealing to the masses, and well-packaged but also include specific things in their book that will appeal to certain demographics and niche or specialized media. For instance, where does your novel take place? Does it cover sex, politics, or religion? Your character could have any career, so which ones do you choose? Are there pets involved – -dogs or cats? Depending on what you include, you can make your book more appealing to different media out there.
- Think like the media. Ask yourself: what do they need or want? If you can focus on what that media outlet or that reporter, host, or blogger specifically desires, you will increase your chances for success greatly. One-size-fits-all pitches fit no one. You need to customize your approach and find a way to show that what you have is what they want. Be there to fill their needs. Pay attention to the kinds of guests they interview, the types of books they feature, and the type of subjects they tend to focus on. Know as much as you can about not only the media outlet or specific show/column, but about the person you are contacting. Find a way to make a human connection and bond.
- Harness your ego. Too many authors think their book is the best without really seeing what the competition offers. They suffer from an overinflated belief in themselves to the point that they become ego-centric. Every author has to work hard–and wisely–to see their book succeed. There is no one standard formula to produce a best-seller, garner a movie deal, or even get a positive review. The key is to be persistent and creative when pitching the media and marketing your book. Don’t rest on any singular idea, headline, or credential–you must keep reinventing yourself and your message even when you see people are receptive to your offerings.
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