Book publicity and marketing expert Rick Frishman has a 30+-year track record helping authors get published and promoted. Here he shares some of his book publicity wisdom.
Valerie: From your vantage point, what do authors need to know about today's publishing landscape?
Rick: The scary fact is that about 500,000 books are published each year, not counting all the ebooks and self-published books. Only about 20,000 of those new titles even make it into a major bookstore. For a book to sell with all that competition, it's so important for an author to be able to get publicity.
Valerie: So publicity is key—and, of course, book publicity is job in and of itself. So how can an author help get the attention of the media?
Rick: The internet these days is a great conduit to traditional media—for example, HARO (www.helpareporter.com) and www.reporterconnection.comare both online resources that can lead book authors to online, print or TV publicity opportunities.
One important thing authors need to realize is that the media, as a profession, doesn't give a crap—they don't care about your book, they only care if you're going to give them a great story, get them more readers or viewers. They have way too many deadlines, too many things going on, they have ADD—I say that in the most loving way—you can't waste their time.
So give them a good story, make your book pitch relevant to their needs. Be succinct. Have your short "elevator pitch" set to go, give it fast and don't waste anyone's time.
Valerie: That's great advice. Any other hints about dealing with the media?
Rick: You'll do a hundred times better with your publicity and marketing outreach if you do your research, and find out everything you can about that busy producer and/or the host of the show, or the reporter or editor. Be knowledgeable about who you're talking to. If it's a reporter, don't just settle for having a name—look through the archives to see what he or she's written before. If you know some background, his or her body of work, you'll be able to deepen the conversation, make a better interviewee.
And probably the most important thing is don't stop and don't give up. This is all about follow-up. It's going to take seven phone calls and seven e-mails to get someone to respond to you—so don't worry about rejections, just keep plugging away.
Valerie: How has media changed with the internet?
Rick: Most authors really need to better understand and "own" their internet presence. When I want to know more about the person I'm dealing with, I google him or her—producers and editors do the same. Authors need to make sure they come up in the search, and that they control what appears about them on the web—that anyone finding them knows immediately what they're about.
Fortunately, the top five internet-related tools are free: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube,
and blogs sites. Authors should make sure they have a presence on all of those sites, and that each includes information about their book, testimonials, etc. When producers look, they see someone who has the goods.
Valerie: So far, all the tools you've mentioned are free. What's the best use of, say, $100 spent on publicity?
Rick: A really good dinner to have the energy and stamina to do all the free stuff!
Seriously, I'd tell an author to—again, taking control: reserve all the URLs that relate to his name, his book's title, even misspellings of his name and book title, then redirect all those URLs to his site.
If you have a common name—John Smith, say—reserve www.thejohnsmith.com or www.myjohnsmith.com. Think about the future: reserve "www.johnsmiththemovie.com," or the titles of future books (I tell my authors: if you don't own the URL for the title of your book, it's not the title of your book!) If you go to a cheap domain seller (like rickscheapdomains.com, hint, hint) you can get about 11 domains for your $100.
Valerie: These are great "to do's." What should authors avoid? What's the biggest waste of time or energy?
Rick: Trying to get on national shows and into the big publications before their platforms are built. Authors should start small and spend the most energy and time trying build up a track record with local newspapers, local television, etc.
The other mistake I see very often is that authors will ask a hundred people for advice, and change course every time someone gives them an opinion but never move forward. Action and consistency are more important than getting something absolutely correct—pick a couple of publicity projects and stick with them, finish them, move onto the next. That's what's going to get you results.
Read more hints and how-to's about book marketing and publicity.
Rick Frishman, the founder of Planned Television Arts, has been one of the leading book publicists in America for over three decades and has worked with best-selling authors from Stephen King to Mitch Albom to President Jimmy Carter. The co-author of twelve books, he is the force behind Author101University, a conference series dedicated to giving authors the tools and tactics for success. He has made numerous appearances on radio and TV, including Bloomberg and Oprah, and has been featured in dozens of publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. His site, RickFrishman.com, offers many free resources for authors. Rick Frishman is also the publisher at Morgan James Publishing in New York, a house that specializes in non-fiction and gives a portion of every book sold to Habitat for Humanity.