Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
Hey where's the Warmth????
April 16, 2004
in this issue
-- How to Write a Marketing Plan
-- The Marketing Strategy and Campaign
-- Murphy's Law
-- Advertising vs. Publicity
-- Beyond Oprah
-- The Warning Signs of an Incompetent Publicist
-- Review Copies & Bound Galleys
-- How to make a splash with your Press Kit
Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Holiday. On
behalf of everyone I'd like to extend a warm welcome
to all our new subscribers.
After receiving a number of questions and requests
about target audience and marketing
campaigns - this week I have decided to skip all
sections of our newsletter - sent out a notice to all
other subscribers that we are bypassing this week - to
bring one very special issue for authors and aspiring
FYI: We now have 2126 subscribers - of those only a
small portion are writers - approx just over 200 - the
remainder are readers and consumers from all across
the country, as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia and
now somehow Italy.
What does this mean? It means: EXPOSURE.
The way I look at it-- if only 1% of the subscribers
purchase any book mentioned in our newsletter, then
something good has come of it.
The reason you will see the variety of information in the
newsletter, is because most of these guests have been
subscribers since '96 when I began my first newsletter
as a chat room moderator. I combined them when BLP
started taking up most of my time.
Now, since all of you are not from the same publishing
house, this plan has been created to accomodate
everyone who has a book to sell.
What you read here you will not find on my website,
and after talking to a dear friend - I have begun
compiling "The Author's Companion," which consists of
tons of information, templates and more. A book that
will take any writer from the pre-publishing phase into
the marketing phase and beyond.
If after reading this issue you still have questions,
please send them in. We will post them in the next
issue along with an answer - only because they may
benefit others. This also keeps me from repeating any
Ok now let's start at the beginning - - -
How to Write a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan tells the publishing staff what's
interesting, unusual, and special about you and your
book and how you think the book can be promoted.
To get an idea of your publisher's sensibilities, ask
your editor for a copy of the latest catalog. From
reading it you can find out how the publisher presents
and describes their books. You can use this as a guide
for writing about yours.
Don't plan on writing the plan in one sitting. One useful
tactic is to begin your plan as a rough draft that you
embelish over the course of several weeks, as you
develop more ideas about how to market your book.
Personally I'm constantly reviewing and revising --
there is no end to this plan.
Make your plan a thrifty one. Focus on promotional
ideas that do not require your publisher (or you) to
spend a lot of money. If your title is a "midlist" book
(ie., any book not at the top of the publisher's
priorities), then you stand little chance of persuading
your publisher to spend the kind of money required for
print ads and other paid media.
Where you stand a better chance of getting some
money is for publicity, which is relatively inexpensive.
"Publicity" refers to the array of strategies that
generate positive (and free) media coverage of your
book. This coverage can create the ever desirable
word-of-mouth attention -- when your book becomes
the topic of conversation between friends and
colleagues as they recommend your book to one
While you're thinking about appropriate publicity
strategies, be honest with yourself.
You know your own comfort level in public forums. If
you are wildly uncomfortable with the idea of doing live
interviews or bookstore appearances then do not force
yourself. On the other hand, if you're uncomfortable
with the idea of giving interviews, but think that with
some media or speech training that you could become
an effective communicator, then perhaps push for a
publicity tour. Personally I hate appearances but when
they're offered do not turn them down!
A publicity tour-- a trip to several cities where you will
be interviewed by the media and appear in bookstores -
- is warranted if your book is topical and makes for
interesting conversation on talk shows, which then
might draw audiences to attend bookstore signings or
talks. A tour also makes sense if your book is
controversial, if you have an unusual life story to tell,
or followed an unusual path to becomig a writer. On the
audience side of the equation, having friends and family
in other cities who can help drum up support is an
important factor in determining whether you should tour.
If you want to go on a book tour, then let your editor
know when your book is acquired or at least before
you've turned in a marketing plan. That way your editor
can begin to advocate for this in early conversations
with the publisher and director of publicity.
A book tour is merely one tool to promote a book. You
will become familiar with many other ways to get the
word out about yours. Among them are concentrated
press pitches to the national press in NY and
Washington, DC, local book signings and publicity in
your hometown, postcard mailings, and even radio
interviews conducted by phone. Then of course there's
the Internet - a tool for self-promotion as well as an
open market to sell your book.
Some sections of the marketing plan will duplicate the
author's questionaire that your editor may ask you to
complete. However, as the marketing plan specifically
addresses how to sell your book, redundancies are
expected and forgiven.
The marketing plan should include:
*Book title, your name, and contact information
*A positioning statement - the 1 or 2 sentences that
capture the essence and appeal of your book
*Why you wrote the book - the background story
*Marketing strategy and Campaign
*Sales handles and media angles
*Competitve titles/comparative titles
*Personal and professional contacts (who might help in
the book launch or who might give you a "blurb" or
*Your prior media experience
*Your top 10 media and marketing wish list and ideas
how to target them (this last item is optional, but it's
really impressive and puts you way ahead of your
competition on your publisher's list)
To breakdown a few of these:
The Title: is the essential to its effective
marketing. Its job is to tell and sell.
A good title, in combination with the book jacket, will
prompt the bookstore browser to pick up the book.
Book reviewers sift through mail sacks filled with books
by unknown writers: It is the book with an intriguing
title or cover design that's likely to get pulled out of
the pile first.
Goals: the first important step in writing a plan
is to understand and articulate your goal for the book.
A goal helps you focus your expectations.
Perhaps you want to become a bestseller, or to
influence public policy. Make your stated goals realistic
so that you appear credible. If you've written a book on
a narrow topic and you expect a bestseller, then you've
got to produce a convincing marketing plan.
Book description: many people working on
promoting or seling your book may never have the time
to read it. It is to your absolute advantage to carefully
convey what your book is about in 2 to 3 tightly
What you write will become the basis of how the
publishing staff will describe your book when they go
out to sell it. Your description may even be used
verbatim throughout the course of your book's
publication in all manner of promotional materials - from
tip sheets and catalog copy to flap copy and press
Target audience(s): one approach is coming up
with a reader profile, literally writing down who you
think your readers are, their age group, their personal
and professional interests, and so on.
Your definition of your audience will help you and your
publisher to concentrate resources on reaching your
largest groups of readers.
The Marketing Strategy and Campaign
The marketing strategy portion of your marketing plan
addresses how you or your publisher will reach your
readership, and will probably require the most time and
thought and continual refinement on your part. This is
really the heart of your campaign - the blueprint for
how you will reach your target audience.
Here I have compiled many ideas and examples of
successful strategies (some are my own) that you can
draw on to develop your own marketing strategy. Not
all examples will apply to every book, but they should
serve to stimulate the marketing side of your brain.
While you were writing the book, did you envision a
particular kind of reader?
Which individuals will benefit from reading your book?
Think broadly, as your book likely has more than one
Who do you think will buy your novel?
If your answer to that is "all readers of general fiction"
then try to further refine your thinking. Among readers
of fiction, are they women who enjoy the Oprah-
favored hardship-to-recovery novels, men who enjoy
techno-thrillers, readers of mysteries with crossover
mainstream themes, readers of family dramas, and so
Can your book attract readers of books from other
What age groups might take interest in your book?
If you're writing about midlife themes, then chances are
that the young Gen Y readers will not take much
Are your potential readers located in a particular
If your book takes place in Iowa, for example, then
Iowans should be a particular target of your marketing
and publishing campaign.
Would your book interest people of a particular
ethnic background, whether because of themes you
address or because of your own identity?
Can your book tie in to local or national political
One publishing house, Addison-Wesley, went right to
the core market for a book called Reinventing
Government, by David Osborne. Intending to get
the book in the hands of reporters covering the New
Hampshire primaries, the publisher sent staff to New
Hampshire to place complimentary copies in local bars
where the national political reporters were hanging out.
Many of the snowbound journalists wrote about the
book. The subsequent coverage and sales launched the
book onto the New York Times bestseller list.
Could your book interest policy makers?
Then suggest that your publisher send copies of the
book to public opinion leaders and opinion columnists,
who can become important mouthpieces for your book.
For example: You could send a book that touches on
political or social matters to influential government
leaders who are interested in your subject matter. For
a promotion for The Tenth Justice, the
bestselling novel by Brad Meltzer about a group of
fictional clerks at the Supreme Court, the publisher sent
books to the current clerks and other members of the
Justice Department, knowing that this audience could
help build interest in Washington, D.C.
Does your book contain a strong spiitual or social
message, in which case a church or other religious
congregation can help spread the word?
Then send copies of a self-empowerment book to the
church leaders, for instance, and invite them share it
with their congregation.
Is your book aimed at a specific self-help
Then you might try working through the national media,
which offers many service stories.
For example: a diet book, by definition geared to any
American who thinks he or she is overwight, might be
launched by natinal television media appearances, as
well as excerpts or coverage in women's magazines.
Does your book have a nich readership and if so,
what media vehicles reach that readership?
For example: the publisher of a basic early childhood
parenting book would target first-time parents by trying
to sell excerpts to parenting magazines, offering free
excerpts to parenting sections of newspapers (which
often can't afford to pay for excerpts), and setting up
media interviews for the authors.
A few lucky authors have had their books excerpted in
the promotional brochures of the baby formula
manufacturers Similac and Enfamil. Others have
been bought by HMOs, which offer information about
preventive medicine to theirs members.
Does your subject matter appeal to a dedicated
group of journalists and other professionals who can
generate exposure and buzz for your book?
For example: a sports book could be promoted to
sportcasters who might mention the book during on-
air broadcasts of games.
Your publisher might also contact the public relations
people at local sports arenas to see if they will put
copies of the book in the pressroom at game time.
Can your book tie in with a local or national event?
A book about the fashion industry called Model,
by Michael Gross, coincided with Fashion Week in New
York City, when the new collections were launched.
The publisher delivered press packets to the hotel
rooms of fashion reporters who were in town for the
shows. The author was ubiquitous at Fashion Week's
parties and events, and was widely quoted everywhere
in the fashion press. The publisher also worked with
Saks Fifth Avenue, which mounted window displays
that were themed around the book.
Can you link your book to events in the news?
When former First Lady Hilary Clinton professed an
admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt, publishers of
Roosevelt biographies reprinted works by and about
Roosevelt, and positioned their authors as experts on
Political campaigns, the latest crime statistics,
teachers, shortages, reading scores, teenage
behaviors, caring for the aging parents, the economy -
whether declining or booming - the environment:
Reporters cover all these issues on a continuing basis
and need to interview experts. Keep current with
what's going on in the world, and if you see opportuinty
to tie into the news headlines, then let your publicists
know. If you are doing your on publicity, call or email
the appropriate reporters to let them know about your
Could your book be part of cultural programs
organized by your local department store?
For example: Macy's stages hundreds of special events
a year and will invite authors to participate as guest
lecturers. The store will also offer the author's books
The people that you interviewed for your book may
help you promote it.
Confirm your sources' willingness to help out and state
that fact in the marketing plan.
For example: James Hirsch's Hurricane is an
uthorized biography of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, for
which Carter appeared in interviews with the author. A
writer of fiction might call upon any intriguiging
individual he or she interviewed in doing background
research for the novel.
Can you link your book to a holiday or anniversary?
Check out a directory published every fall called
Chase's Calendar of Events, which lists all kinds
of quirky events, bithdays, celebrations, and
anniversaries, such as National Pie Day and American
Education Week, among many others. You may find an
event to connect to your book's marketing.
Are you an effective or charismatic public speaker?
Then emphasize public appearances and media
interviews as a key part of your campaign.
Does your book's success depend on favorable and
widespread book reveiew coverage?
A campaign for a literary novel or work of serious
nonfiction might focus on getting galleys into the hands
of book reviewers and influential critics on the board of
the National Book Critics Circle, which awards an annual
To accomplish this you might recommend a higher
printing of galleys than usual. (Galleys - a bound
paperback-style edition of your book printed 3-5
months before its publication - allow reviewers who
have a long lead time to read and review the book in
time for the book's publication.)
Are you good-looking or unusual-looking or are you
Some publishers promote the author's good looks
(Michael Chabon for his 1st book, The Mysteries of
Pittsbugh) or outrageous personality (David Sedaris
for his collection of essays, Naked) alongside
the book's literary merits.
Can you create a trend story around your book
conducting informal surveys or polls?
You do not have to be Gallup. As long as you poll
people in a credible way, your results can form the
basis of a press pitch for your book.
The survey might even provide the basis for your book,
as well as offering marketing angle. For a book called
Married Lust from Redbook magazine, the author
Pamela Lister conducted research through surveys on
the very active Redbook Website and got
10,000 responses. What men and women reported
about their feelings about sex and marriage became
both part of the book's content and its press coverage.
If you have a Web site and attract sufficient traffic,
then you can conduct your surveys online.
Does your book have strong visuals?
A photo insert with just a few stunning photographic
images can create significant publicity for a book. State
in your marketing plan the nature of the photos that
are available to help market the book. Strong visuals
can become the basis not only for press coverage but
also for striking window dislpays for booksellers.
For David Halberstam's book The Fifties, the
publisher created sets of easel-backed photographs of
iconic images from the 1950s for displays.
Can you create a photo opportunity around the
subject of your book?
You might stage an event with a compelling visual that
local or even national press will want to shoot. A shot
of you handing a check to the president of a local
charity is not an exciting photo. But a shot of the
prizewinners at your constume party to raise money for
that charity is a good photo op.
Does your book tie into current social trends and
For example: a recent parenting book posited the idea
that parents are less important than peers in
determining a child's values and behavior. The argument
generated a media interest because it tapped into
parental anxieties about whether we're raising our
For any project-based book, you might show
For examples: a crafts book author will bring a finished
craft on-air for a television demo. For a floral arranging
book you might present different styles of floral
The publicist or yourself might offer free excerpts of a
project and illustrations to newspapers and Web sites.
Does your book offer controversial information?
If so, you can withhold information until publication
date to build interest and suspense among your target
The idea behind embargoing content until publication is
that the contents will instantly create nse headlines
that will in turn drive instant book sales.
If the information leaks out before publication, then the
news value is lost since books are not available for
consumers to buy at the very moment when they're
most interested in it.
Typically books that are published like this are gossipy
celebrity books, or exposÚs. But if your book contains
never-before-known information within your field, then
alert your publisher to that fact: They are not experts
in your subject area and may not recognize the news
value in your work.
Does your book offer a contrary point of view?
Then stir up controversy through public or journalistic
debate over your position.
Will your book provoke curiosity among pople who
think they are in the book?
A publicity technique that sometimes works nicely to
promote popular biographies and autobiographies, as
well as books of a sensational nature, is sending a copy
of the book's index to the individuals who are
mentioned in the book.
This tease gets them talking about the book - just
what you want.
Can you attract guest to a book party who will
start serious buzz about your book?
Parties can also be useful in the context of an industry
trade show, where your publisher can introduce you to
key booksellers. They can also work as sales
opportunities say, if a friend is throwing you a party
and your publisher or local bookseller brings books to
sell to the guests. However, unless a party can achieve
some real word of mouth or sales for a book, do not
expect your publisher to pay for one just for the sake
Can you come up with a celebrity angle or
connection to celebrities?
Perhaps seek and obtain endorsements from celebrities.
This may involve many months of relentless pursuit
through their publicist or agents or as easy as 1 2 3,
but still doable.
This is my favorite target! For my recent novel
Caleng and the Moonstone Pearl, I have letters
from LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow), J.K. Rowling
(Harry Potter) and Peter Jackson(LOTR). Then requests
from associates in the name of Ellen Degeneres and
Can you create an award?
When his novel Secrets was published, Kelvin
Christopher James created an annual award writing
contest with a cash prize that he presented to three
NYC high school students for their esays about "Getting
Along in New York."
The award angle enabled him to book on NPR's Talk
of the Nation along with first-prizewinning student,
as well as to get a column in the New York Daily
News. The next year, his publicist used the award
angle to get a column in the NYT. All this for a literary
short story writer and novelist.
Another example: Novelist Rona Jaffe has created a
foundation through which she administers a grant
program for women writers in fiction, poetry, and
creative nonfiction. Every year the award's
presentation is covered in the media.
Can you host a fundraiser or other charity event to
raise your profile?
Create a local cause-cased event for any institution in
need: the public library, a chidlren's daycare center,
a museum, literacy program, any organization that has
some reasonable connection with the message or intent
of your book.
Can you stage a stunt?
No, you don't have to dress up like a bunny or a clown.
But if you're willing to make yourself the center of
attention, and if you make the stunt a visual one, then
you've improved the chances that television news
crews will want to tell your story.
The attention-getting event could be a contest, a
fashion show, or a pet parade - anything out of the
norm for your community.
Can you create a quiz around your book's theme?
A quiz can provide entertaining material for radio
discussion about your book, or else for pickup in the
For example: a publisher of a first aid book created a
quiz to test the reader's first aid knowledge that was
picked up in the New York Daily News as well as other
A quiz can be serious or light entertainment depending
on the nature and tone of your book. To promote
Don't Know Much About the Civil War, author
Kenneth Davis created quizzes and a crossword puzzle.
Many of his radio interviews for the book took the form
of "Stump the Author" with callers to the show asking
tough questions about the Civil War.
Should you take a grassroots approach to building
Laurie Beth Jones, author of Jesus, INc and
Jesus CEO, toured the US in her RV to reach
more cities than a traditional tour could finance.
Can you team up with other writers in your genre?
Mystery and romance writers sometimes go on the road
with other writers to help build one another's audiences
and to save on expenses.
Linking to News Events - a Word of Caution
Link to the news in a tasteful manner. A publishing
newletter that appeared days after the destruction of
the World Trade Center urged readers who had written
books about grief, airport security, or skyscraper
architecture to get in touch with news organizations to
make themselves available for interviews - all legitimate
topics. But before you tag onto a catastrophic event,
ask yourself if you are providing a public service by
letting the media know your expertise, or merely
straining to connect your book to the event. Many
public relations people caugh flak from the press for
attempting far-fetched connections to 9/11 on behalf
of their clients. Perhaps there are just some ocassions
when you shouldn't be thinking about book sales.
An Author Creates Marketing Events for Her Own
Bestselling author Lois Wyse is the author of 65 books.
A marketer by profession, her success offers lessons for
would-be marketers who want to sell their books to
readers. Her books all have ready-made, built-in
marketing angles. For a book called How to Take
Your Grndmother to the Museum, she traveled with
her coauthor, who happened to be her young
granddaughter, to a number of tour cities where the
local museums provided the press-worthy local settings
for publicity interviews. For Women Make the Best
Friends, the publisher setup friendship teas and
parties in bookstores where women were encouraged to
bring a friend. And for Funny, You Don't Like a
Grandmother, Wyse had the idea to set up power
breakfasts for grandmothers. The concept created a lot
of buzz and print coverage and the book reached #1 on
the NYT bestseller list.
A Book Campaign Connected to News Events That
Did Not Sell Books
Shortly after Heidi Fleiss and Sidney Biddle Barrows had
been arrested for running a call-girl-ring, Hollywood's
Madame Alex published a book. Her publicists booked
her on a major national talk show for which she
procurred several call girls for an on-air appearance.
The woman, some of them in disguise, were interviewed
in the NYC studio while Madame Alex appeared live
remote from LA. Well, the Madame couldn't hear the
talk show host very well through the studio earpiece,
so when he asked her if her girls were "ambitious," she
misheard and replied indignantly, "My girls are not
bitches." As book promotion segments go, it was hugely
funny, but didn't sell many books.
In this case the subject matter was interesting to the
audience as an amusing media story, but not as a book.
The point is, you can reach the potential consumer, but
is your book something they really want? That is the
gamble that publishers make everyday with every book.
The Worthwhile Book Party
Some people in the business think it gauche to sell
books at a party; other pragmatic folk will take a sale
anytime and anywhere (that's me!!); others suggest
that friends should buy books at bookstores, not at
parties, to help build bookstore reorders.
I'm in the "sale is a sale" school of thought, because I
like to capture the sale for a book at the moment the
consumer is interested.
You will simply have to make up your own mind about
what to do. If you sell the books at your parties or any
other events, then buy them at your author discount
rate, charge full retail price for the book, and you get
to keep the profit. (And depending on your contract,
you probably get paid a royalty for those copies.) Many
authors will have a friend help sell the books so that
they can meet their guests instead of handling a cash
box. If your publisher is involved with your party then
your publicist can bring books either to sell or give
To keep party costs down (and therefore have access
to more funds for other elements of your campaign),
call a liquor company. Ask to speak to its public
relations account manager or publicist about
contributing the liquor for a promotional event. Explain
what the party is for and offer to fax the guest list
including your guests' professional titles. If the size and
caliber of the guest list are suitably impressive, you
may get a free case of wine or champagne.
Create a Tie-in to a TV show or movie
You know that the hot motion picture - usually the one
that was #1 at the box office over the weekend - gets
an incredicle amount of public attention for a short
period, usually a few weeks. The highest-rated new
TV show of the season gets similarly disproportianate
share of buzz for a somewhat longer period - up to
By creating a campaign that ties your book to these
popular big-and little-screen attractions, you can
siphon off some of their buzz and apply it to your own
story for greatly expanded media coverage.
Spotlight your book!
You can use many products as props or devices to add
visual and tactile interest to PR and promotional
For example: one publisher who advertised his magazine
as the "hot" publication in its field sent a handsome tin
containing a pound of chili powder to potential
Look for combinations
Someone once complained to me, "There's nothing new
in the world. It's all been done before."
But an idea doesn't have to be something completely
new. Many ideas are simply new combinations of
existing elements. By looking for combinations, for new
relationships between old ideas, you can come up with
a fresh approach.
Every book seems to include a warning about Murphy's
Law, as one who has been there on more than one
occassion - I can attest to this.
When you're working to publicize your book, whatever
can go wrong will go wrong, and if you're not prepared
to deal with it, it can take you down.
The media will make commitments in good faith. Usually,
they intend to fullfill their promises, but you know what
they say about good intentions! They'll tell you that
your story will be featured in the Sunday magazine, on
the evening news, or get a special Web page link.
You'll get excited and alert your friends, family, and
customers or clients. Then the bottom will drop out.
Everything will change. The media won't deliver and
you'll be left red-faced, trying to explain what went
When you deal with the media, you're getting involved
in the news business and news always comes first.
Your story could be the tatiest thing since vanilla-iced
raisin bread, but it may be supplanted by some
mundane, late breaking story merely because the story
is news. It's how the business works. It's not personal.
News takes priority over everything else. The newest
and most recent events always takes precendence.
Expect disappointments and please be professional.
Your stories will be cut, chopped, revised, and
disfigured beyond recognition. They'll be postponed,
bumped, rescheduled, rewritten, and canceled once
Instad of praising your book, reporters may detest it
and write editorials demanding that you be criminally
Don't blow your top, become depressed, or alienate
media contacts because you were dumped from the
morning show. Be a "good sport," even though you're
aching inside. Take it in stride, be professional, and try
to turn defeats into assets. Expect rejections,
disappointments, and ambushes, and try to salvage the
most from them.
Never take it personally. Its not you, or your book, it's
simply the business. When you recieve rejection, try to
learn the reason. Analyze your submission from the
vantage point of the person of who rejected it. When
you have answers, revise your submission to eliminate
those problems. The best way to cope is to view every
rejection as a lesson, an opportunity to strengthen
your approach, and move a step closer to your goal.
Remember, you're in a trial by fire in which the hardest
steel must endure the hottest flame. Let the media's
blows toughen your hide and your resolve. Then mix in
a heavy dose of persistence and you'll be fine. You'll
weather another storm and be better for it.
Advertising vs. Publicity
WHY PUBLICITY IS MORE COST EFFECTIVE THAN PAID
Your marketing plan should focus on publicity rather
than advertising. Most advertising is too expensive to
warrant spending on most books.
For example: small black-and-white ads in the New York
Times, Washington Post, San Fransisco Chronicle, or
the New Yorker cost approximately $8,000 to $12,000.
Thos short book ads that you hear on National Public
Radio? They cost upward of $13,000 for a minimum
commitment to 12 fifteen second spots.
Other types of book advertising include bus or subway
ads (pricey), television ad campaigns (you've got to
spend at least $25,000 on production and then another
$50,000 minimum if you're buying network time; less if
you're focusing on cable), and radio advertising (around
$20,000 or more).
In contrast, you have a much greater chance of
reaching and, more important, engaging readers
through a publicity campaign. A 10 city tour might cost
$20,000 to $30,000. A tightly focused national media
campaign - requiring travel to New York and
Washington, D.C., will cost you or your publisher $500
to $4,000, depending on where you live.
If Canada is part of the book's market, then the
national media in Toronto might also be included in the
Typically book tours cost between $1,200 and $2,500 a
city. Expenses include the hotel room, airfare, ground
transportatin, and food. The media coverage you can
get through publicity is more extensive than what you
can buy with the equivalent dollars spent in advertising.
Often the most desired goal for a successful publishing
launch is to get on The Oprah Winfrey Show,
the single most influential media on book sales for more
than a decade.
Oprah has democratized and demystified the act of
reading, and so has encouraged reading - and book
buying - among a broad swathe of the population.
However, no secret formula exists for appearing on her
show, even after months and years of pitching a
concept, or sheer fluke and luck of timing might lead to
a speedy booking on the 1st try. And even then, the
appearance does not guarantee bestsellerdom.
While you should put time and thought into figuring out
how your book might interest Oprah's producers,
getting on the show shouldn't be the only focus of your
book's campaign strategy. In any case, before you
decide what show is right for your book you should
familiarize yourself with that show by watching (or
taping) and observing.
What topics are discussed, what authors are
interviewed, how is the interview conducted, and so
on. Beyond Oprah, the following media outlets have
influenced book sales for many years:
The national evening news on one of the network
stations - a supremely difficult placement to get but
one that reaches many millions of people
Today, Good Morning America, The Early Show
In Canada, a spot on Canada AM
Television shows with on-air book clubs: Reading with
NPR programs like: All Things Considered
Imus in the Morning
In Canada, the CBC's: This Morning
Despite its raunchy content, Howard Stern can also be
surprisingly productive for authors
CNN's Larry King
PBS's The Charlie Rose Show
A write-up in a nationally syndicated column can reach
millions of readers.
William Safire of NYT magazine
Dave Barry of Miami Herald
Molly Ivins of Ft. Worth Str-Telegram
A feature in the national wire service, the Associated
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
In Canada: the Globe and Mail
The Warning Signs of an Incompetent Publicist
OR DISINTERESTED OR OVERWORKED
Doesn't return phone calls promptly and publication
date is 3 to 4 months away.
Doesn't seem to understand what your book is about.
Is endlessly caught up in process, like tweaking press
materials and researching press lists. But then doesn't
seem to know anyone in the media or talk about her/his
ideas for any pitches.
Speaks in publcity jargon and you don't know what
he/she is talking about.
Talks to you about other author campaign's that he/she
is working on but not yours.
Dismisses any ideas that you come up with but
contributes none of her/his own.
Pretends to know more than she/he really does.
Wants to get you off the phone quickly.
You get a nasty sinking feeling in your stomach
everytime you talk to him/her.
If you recognize these symptoms in your dealings with
your publicist, do not dial 911, do not take 2 aspirins
then crash for an hour --- SCREAM - COMPLAIN and
Talk to the editor - have your book reassigned - if that
doesn't work call the director of publicity. You can also
choose to get your agent involved.
Review Copies & Bound Galleys
BOUND GALLEYS AND HOW THEY ARE USED
A limited number of copies of your book are preprinted
and paperbound, then sent to book reviewers, some
producers, and key bookstore buyers. These copies are
called galleys and the text is generally a typeset, but
not proofread, version of your book.
For the most important books on the publishing list,
your publisher will send a large quantity of more
elegantly produced galleys called advance reading
copies to a wider circle of booksellers and media to
pique early interest.
If you are the one sending out galleys - print out the
first version (this is usually a pdf file) sent to you by
your publisher using 3 hole paper, use cardstock and
fasteners or your choice of covering before sending
out. This cost can be extreme so DO NOT send unless
Ok so the book is published now what?
Publishers will send reviewers a free copy of a book as
part of their marketing plan, in the hopes that it will be
reviewed and brought to the favorable attention of the
Keep in mind that some publishers are under no
obligation to send review copies.
By the same token reviewers are under no obligation to
review a book sent to them unrequested.
With this said by no means send anything without
permission. Always query first, whether by snail mail or
email. As long as you enclosed information on how they
can acquire a copy - they will request it.
Again if soliciting celebrities, send only a request let
them convey their wishes as to whether they want to
read your book or not.
Once more, this can be a costly mistake so use caution.
How to make a splash with your Press Kit
A press kit contains all the elments that could interest
the media in you.
What you will need:
A graphics program
2 pocket glossy folders with business card insert (black
or navy blue)
8 1/2 x 11" Sticker sheets
2 News articles (or complete reviews printed on
In your graphics program start with a standard sheet 8
1/2 x 11" blank page - make sure the sheet orientation
is set at "portrait."
On the blank graphic page insert your cover (no back or
spine, crop if needed) - you may need to stretch out to
fill page but leave 1/2 white space all around.
Insert 1 sticker sheet into printer and print.
Remove backing and place on top of selected folder -
press lightly making sure no bubbles and entire sheet is
adhered to folder.
Inside Pockets: Your right - place press release - left
pocket place news articles, one bookmarker, and one
postcard. Insert business card into slot.
That's it! Now your folders look elegant and well
presented. DO NOT insert more than needed. It's a
waste - less is best. The only question a store manager
will now ask is -- does our distributor carry it?
Make as many as you think you will need.
There are other imaginative ways to package press
materials so that they get noticed:
When she was publicizing a book called The
Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn, publicist
Grace McQuade came up with an inspired press packet.
The book reveals hundreds of imaginative and simple
ways for families to save money and became a NYT
bestseller. Consistent with the book's penny-pinching
philosophy, she mailed out the press packet inside
brown paper lunch bags with a sticker of the book's
cover pasted on the front. The campaign received a lot
of media attention.
For a mystery novel by Barbara D'Amato called
Authorized Personnel Only, the author suggested
that her publicist wrap the press materials in yellow
police tape, another effective way to catch the eyes of
But be cautioned: DO NOT waste money on expensive
giveaways, UNLESS the item is truly unusual, or very
funny, it will go in the garbage.
Postcards, with a picture of the cover of your book on
one side and advance praise and a description of the
book on the back.
If you're paying for the postcards, check out the
reasonable prices at www.modernpostcard.com
What's the point in marketing?
Quite simply, its necessary in determining how to sell
books as fast as possible to as many people as
possible. And if you can't achieve high-speed sales, you
still benefit from ongoing small though steady sales.
Can I hire a publicist?
Sure you can, but be prepared not only for the costs
which most usually ask for an upfront retainer fee of
$1500.00, and its results may not be what you want.
Believe it or not, YOU are the better publicist for your
I still have no clue who my target audience is?
Then try some serious brainstorming with your editor,
publicist, or friends. Getting other people's point of view
will help you shape your media pitch.
Why did you write this newsletter?
Demand. Hopefully to end the mystery of book
marketing. Advertising, promotions, and publicity are
the three core areas of book marketing. Thus, the
challenge for many writers, but much easier than most
What makes you an authority on how to market my
I'm not. I can only give you what I've learned. Currently
I am an author like most of you and between creating
weekly newsletters, research, working, reading &
reviewing books, I too am patiently pushing my own
marketing plan forward.
Oh yeah, and I have thousands of ideas and info
swirling around in my head!
Can I become a bestseller?
I believe anyone can, by devoting a significant amount
of time and imagination to helping the book succeed.
The opportunity is there, ask yourself one question:
How far are you willing to go?
But my book hasn't been published?
It's never too soon to get started.
So there you have it: Marketing in a nutshell. Stay tune
though, as we have many other articles to include in
We appreciate and hope you continue to send us your
comments, opinions, articles and suggestions.
Remember if you submit anything to our newsletter -
include a link back to your site.
Betsie's Literary Page is where readers and shoppers
are respected, books are cherished, aspiring writers are
encouraged and authors are adored.