You wrote a book! Or you’re writing one, or you’re thinking about writing one… Bravo!
Hopefully, you started thinking about book marketing and publicity early in the process. (How early? Early.) If not, subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss future posts and goodies. I’ve got tons of tips on how to market your book even long after it’s published, and I’ll be sharing more and more of them in the future!
Help your publicist help you.
If you’re working with a book publicist, either one that you’ve hired on your own or one assigned to you by your publisher, as in any working relationship, you want them to not dread hearing from you.
So what can you do from day one to be your publicist’s new favorite author to work with? I present to you three hearty tips for making your publicist’s life easier and to help them help you!
Tip #1: Edit your emails.
Publicists spend an enormous amount of their workday in their inbox. They’re getting responses to pitches, requests for review copies, a storm of internal emails from colleagues in editorial and production and marketing and sales departments, correspondence with their book distributors, questions from agents, and, of course, emails from authors.
So as a publicist, I always asked my more… verbose… authors to try to keep emails to a few essential bullet points. In one case, this meant that the author continued to write two-page-long emails, but with a bullet point at the beginning of each fat paragraph.
That’s not exactly what I meant!
Keep your emails to need-to-know information only!
You’re a writer, so you write. A lot. But your book publicist is working on many books each season and needs to be spending 95% of their time corresponding with media outlets. Give them what they need from you to do their job, but just as you churn out hefty first drafts and then whittle them into shape, edit your emails.
It seems like a small thing, but just trust me that it isn’t. This way when your publicist hears from you, they won’t think, “Oh no, it’s one of those authors.” Plus, this way the time your publicist spends working on your book baby will be better spent over all.
Tip #2: Put your book title in the email subject line.
While we’re on the subject of emails, let’s talk about the subject… line.
Book publicists’ work loads vary quite a bit across different publishers and imprints. Some publicists work on eight to ten books per season, sometimes with high profile, celebrity authors. Others are assigned a few dozen books per season.
If you consider the hundreds of book reviewers and media outlets involved, this means lots… and lots… of emails. It’s like Harry Potter’s acceptance letters flying through the windows and the chimney en masse, but in email form.
An email titled “hi” is annoying.
They’re often working with substantially more authors at a time than an editor and, unlike your editor, they haven’t spent six, twelve, or eighteen months working with you. Help them stay organized. An email titled “question about my book” or “hi, any reviews yet?” is annoying.
It saves time, and headaches, when emails come in that are instantly recognizable. The publicist can prioritize more quickly that way. Help them out. Always put your book title (or a shortened version) in your email subject line, along with a couple words to indicate the subject of that particular email thread.
For example, let’s pretend your book’s title is The Mysterious Martini Caper and you’re working with your publicist to get a print interview. (Don’t steal that title though. I call dibs.) You’ve put together a list of 8-10 sample interview questions to make it easier for a magazine to say “yes” to interviewing you. Your email subject line might read:
“Martini Caper – interview materials”
Short and sweet. Then don’t forget to attach the Word doc with the questions. Bonus points if you attach a brief bio, your book cover, and a headshot they can send along, too… Again, it makes your publicist’s job easier (they don’t have to search through your press kit) and it makes it easier for the magazine to take the bait (because really, you’ve basically done their work for them). Good luck on your interview!
Tip #3: Share new hits with your publicist.
If you manage to secure some reviews or publicity on your own, tell your publicist. In addition to working to secure book reviews, interviews, and other hits for you, a big part of their job is to leverage that media to coerce their book distributor and sales team to print and sell more books. Let me give you an example of what not to do.
I had an author a couple years ago who, through his own connections, managed to secure an interview on Coast to Coast. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s a radio show broadcasted nationally, and it’s one of the big ones for book sales. If an author gets on Coast to Coast, you can bet sales will spike in the following days. It was an excellent opportunity for this author.
He didn’t tell me about it.
Instead, I arrived in the office Monday morning to a very frustrated email from him. He said he’d been on the show, and that afterwards, all his friends and family started asking him why Amazon and Barnes & Noble didn’t have his book available. Consumers’ interest changes rapidly, so if the books sell out quickly and there aren’t any more available while people are looking for them, they likely aren’t going to try again later.
Had I learned several days or weeks beforehand that he was going to be on that show, I would have immediately blasted out an email to a list of about a hundred people internally and externally to spread the news far and wide:
“This book is big and getting bigger!”
This way, sales reps can push vendors to stock up on copies. Then when the publicity hits, books are available, and sales jump. Don’t leave your publicist in the dark–give them what they need to do their job. Help them help you!