Showing posts with label publicity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label publicity. Show all posts

An Evening with Publicist Jennifer Abbotts

"Creativity is, quite simply, a genuine interest combined with initiative."
Scott Belsky

Making connections, coming up with a plan, and setting goals are only part of what a publicist does, according to our New Mexico Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators March Shop Talk guest speaker, Jennifer Abbotts. Jennifer is a PR, marketing, and communications professional. She has worked with book festivals, award-winning authors, and major publishers. She previously worked in the publicity departments at Scholastic, J. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Little, Brown Books, and HarperCollins. Presently, she is freelancing.

What Exactly Does a Publicist Do?
Large publishing houses may have a publicity department, or publicity may be part of marketing. Most of these houses have at least one publicist.

First, the publicist takes into consideration where the author is in her career. From there, a plan is hatched locally, regionally and nationally. Services run the gamut, from sending books out to media, acquiring author interviews, making connections on social media, and setting up events and tours. When the paperback comes out, the publicity wheels spin once again.

What a Publicist Needs from You, the Author
In a word: goals. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish with the publication of your book? What makes you unique? What do you have that no one else has to peak readers’ interest? If you’re an educator and you want to present yourself as such, then that’s your focus. Whatever you decide is your pitch, it needs to feel real, be at a level of comfort for yourself. That’s the best way to connect with your audience.

Jennifer pointed out that it is not always necessary to hire a publicist, but if you have a project moving forward and you’d like to get in touch with one, unfortunately there is no data base. The best way to find one is to talk to your agent and editor. Or google an author and look for their press release to get a name. Ideally, lead time is 6-9 months. The cost varies according to the project. We are fortunate that Jennifer graciously shared her expertise with us.

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Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Are You Using Radio in Your Book Promotion?

By W. Terry Whalin

Terry on a KRKS Radio with Gino Geraci

There are many different methods to tell others about your book. PR Expert Rick Frishman compares author promotion to a three-legged stool. One leg of the stool is reaching print media. Another leg is using the Internet and a final leg is radio. Without all three legs, no stool can be upright. Click this link to explore Rick's publicity teaching in a free teleseminar. Are you using radio to promote your book?

Some authors have self-published and they know about radio but believe this opportunity is only available to authors who publish with well-known traditional houses. Other authors believe they have to hire a publicist or someone to book these interviews. Yes, publicists do an excellent job at booking radio interviews (more details about publicists will be below) but authors can pitch your book directly to producers and radio shows. The key is to learn the details and then be consistently use the powerful tool of radio. While you personally may not listen to the radio, millions of people drive to work every day and listen to these radio programs. Radio is a key way to get exposure for your book (so readers can learn about your book then purchase it).

One of the best examples that I know about the power of radio to sell books is from Alex Carroll. He self-published his book on how to beat speeding tickets called Beat the Cops. Alex has sold 250,000 copies of Beat the Cops on the radio. Not only has Alex succeeded with his own book but he has developed a detailed training course called Radio Publicity. I encourage you to go to his website, watch the videos and learn about this important resource. He gives away several free tools to get you started learning about radio. For many years, I've known Alex Carroll and numerous authors have profited from his teaching.

If your book is Christian, I encourage you to look into working with Don Otis at Veritas Communications. I've known Don for over 20 years and I've been working with Don on the promotion of my Billy Graham book. Because of his connections to radio, Don has booked me on a number of radio programs to talk about Billy Graham. If you follow this link, you can listen to several of my interviews. To learn more about radio, I encourage you to explore the various links on Don's website

PR Expert Don Otis
Recently Don has started a free email newsletter with great tips from his experience. Here is the first issue: Five Ways To Maximize Your Media Interviews. Follow this link to read Don's insights—but also subscribe to his email list and learn from his years in this business.

There is not one path to begin using radio in your work to tell people about your book. Whether you use a publicist or pitch on your own, it is important to be on the radio consistently. Practice makes perfect.

Are you using radio to promote your books? Let me know in the comments below.


Authors Can Harness the Power of Radio. Discover these resources. (ClickToTweet)
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing (a NY publisher). He has written for more than 50 magazines and over 60 books for traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Some of his books have sold over 100,000 copies. His blog, The Writing Life has over 1300 searchable entries. Follow Terry on Twitter (click this link).
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Where is Publishing Headed

With Amazon removing buy buttons from the Big Six publishers, where does the author go to have their manuscript published?

Amazon has also removed numerous reviews because of the hint of purchased reviews, which authors have admitted to so they could rank higher and sell more books.

With thousands of books written per year, and Amazon flexing its muscle, are authors suspected to publish according to whatever terms Amazon dictates, or find company to create the book and let the author sell and market their book themselves?

Traditional publishers currently ask authors about followers and request a marketing plan. Authors have two options:
  1. Hire a publicist to market their book
  2. Learn how to publicize and market their book on their own
As authors, forced into marketing mode, when are they going to find time to write their next book? Will there be fewer books written? Will there be fewer people wanting to write or even have a desire to be creative?

There are new indie publishers springing up almost daily. What do these indie publishers offer the author? Are they willing to help the author publicize, promote, and market books for authors, doubtful at best?

What this boils down to is the fact that authors are out in the cold even more than they were before. 

More than ever, authors had better learn about contracts, publicity, promotion, social media, scheduling book tours, book signings, media kits, designing a marketing plan, where to sell their books, or save for hiring a professional to do it for them.

Hiring professionals for publicity and promotion can be very expensive. Acquiring an agent is difficult and expensive; an agent is not the end all that authors believe it is.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor/Proofreader/Reviewer/Marketer

You Need What King, Grisham and Roberts Have!

If your name isn't Stephen King or John Grisham or Nora Roberts you've probably already figured out that you need a publicist. That publicist can be you or someone else, but somebody's got to do it if you want your book to sell. Your publisher won't spend much, if any, time or money on your publicity (except in the above three cases, of course!)

I have a publicist friend who is also an author. He rightfully claims that he could never find a PR person who would do the same kind of job he does, including the time he spends on his own PR. How could anyone argue with that? We all are our own best publicists, even if we hire someone else.

But what if we don't have the time or expertise?

We can learn to do it ourselves. After all, we are writers. We should be able to grasp the knack of how to write a release.

But the best way to do it is to learn a lot about the marketing of books and then partner with expert publicists or people who can help you with specific projects like online book tour specialists. (I suggest resources for these specialists in The Frugal Book Promoter.) If you decide to do that here are some starter recommendations:

1. Join an organization for publishers and authors. That could be Small Publishers Association of North America or IBPA. Yes, even if you are not self-published or subsidy published. Attend their seminars—online and off. You'll learn more about promotion and your own industry than you can possibly imagine. Not only that, but you'll get over your natural reticence to promote yourself and your book. After all, if you don't believe enough in yourself and your book to do a good job of it, who will?

2. Subscribe to my favorite publicity guru's newsletter. Her name is Joan Stewart; her letter is called The Publicity Hound. She does a print version and a free web version. Contact her at or go to her site: Tell her I sent you.

3. Take a class in Public Relations. The only way I know how to avoid drastic mistakes in choosing a class is to patronize your local college.

But what if you decide to hire a publicist? You should know that even if you hire one, you’ll need to know some of this stuff to partner well with her.

Here is the one most important rule for finding a good one:

When you hire a publicist, you are buying her Rolodex; and I'm not talking about a list she gleaned from a directory. You could get that at the library from Barron's Directory for less than what it costs to hire a publicist for one month

What I'm talking about is a Rolodex of personal, working relationships with editors, hosts, etc. Those relationships must be—to a great extent—contacts who might have an interest in a project like yours. A book publicist who has had mostly experience with mystery writers, deals mostly with books stores that dedicate themselves to stories about crime, and has a huge file of names of reviewers interested in psycho/thrillers probably won't be able to do you much good if you write literary novels. And if you write mysteries, well! The people she will put you in contact with will be a Trojan horse for you well into an entire career of writing.

Am I speaking from experience? You betcha. And lukewarm results were not the fault of my publicist. She did a great job with what she had. She just didn't have what I needed!

You may wonder why I selected her. The price was right and I thought that with my PR background and a reasonable amount of time at my disposal (until I figured out the plot for my next novel) that I could supplement her efforts effectively. It didn't work out that way. First of all, I didn't have a lot of effective contacts in the book world (it was my first book) and the same rules apply to me, as an author cum PR partner. You gotta know some people.

If you're considering hiring a pro this is one way to go about finding Mr. or Ms. Right:

1. Join a list-serve of authors who write in your genre. Pick their brains.

2. Do a Google search on "book publicists + lists." Keep varying those search keywords until you find something that seems to fit your needs.

3. Then check out what you find with your new friends at the list-serv or organization you just joined. Or your social network. Or your critique partners. Or your writing teachers.

Contacts, contacts, contacts. Contacts can't be warmed up overnight; it takes lots of sincere tact, warmth, and effort. But it’s a skill you will use long after you’ve published your book and after you’ve hired a publicist.

To hire or not to hire is not an easy decision. It isn't an easy process to find the right publicist if you decide to go that route. Warning! Steep learning curve ahead! But the ride will be fun.

Publicity is FREE: 15 Commandments for Getting In on the Ride

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson



A huge retailer once said that advertising works, we just don’t know how, why, or where it works best.

What we do know is that advertising’s less mysterious cousin, publicity, works even better. It is the more reliable relative because it is judged on its merit alone and carries the cachet of an editor’s approval. It also is surrounded by the ever-magic word “free.” The two are easily identified as kin.

These two often walk hand-in-hand and yet they can be incompatible. The editors of good media outlets will not allow the advertising department to influence them. Still, in an effort to be completely impartial they reserve the right to use advertiser’s stories editorially if they deem them newsworthy.  That is why it is helpful to use advertising in a vehicle that plays to the audience you would like to see standing in line for your book. This paid-for exposure then becomes an entrĂ©e to the decision-makers. A contact in the advertising department may be willing to put a news release on the desk of one of his editors, maybe even encourage her to look at it.  There are no contracts, but it does sometimes work. If you’re going to try this route, choose a “little pond”, a bookish brochure or an “arty” weekly so that the dollars you spend will be noticed.

Sometimes a magazine or newspaper will run a special promotion called advertorial.  These are sections where you pay for an ad and then the newspaper assigns a reporter to cover the story you want told. The article carries some of the prestige of editorial copy—that is the general reader may assume the article has been chosen only on its merits because of its copycat character. The writer or editor you meet will can be approached when your have something exceptional.

Still, advertorial isn’t exactly FREE. If FREE sounds more like the fare that will serve your needs, carve out some time to do it yourself and follow these 15 commandments:

Educate yourself: Study other press releases. Read a book like my The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What You’re Publisher Won’t ( Be sure to find the sample media releases and other writer’s tools in the Appendix.

Read, read, read: Your newspaper. Your e-zines. Even your junk mail, a wonderful newsletter put out by the Small Publishers of North America ( and one called The Publicity Hound (  My daughter found a flier from the local library in the Sunday paper stuffed between grocery coupons.  It mentioned a display done by a local merchant in the library window. My second book, HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED, became a super model in their lobby and I became a seminar speaker for their author series. Rubbish (and that includes SPAM) can be the goose that laid the golden egg.

Keep an open mind for promotion ideas: Look at the different themes in your book.  There are angles there you can exploit when you’re talking to editors. My first book, THIS IS THE PLACE is sort of romantic (a romance website will like it) but it is also set in Salt Lake City, the site where the winter games were played in 2002 and, though that’s a reach, I found sports desks and feature editors open to it as Olympics © fervor grew and even as it waned because they were desperate for material as the zeal for the games wound down.

Cull contacts: Develop your Rolodex by adding quality recipients from media directories. The Web site has an All-in-One Directory that gives links to others such as Editor, Publisher Year Book, and Burrell’s. Some partial directories on the web are free and so are your yellow pages. Ask for help from your librarian—a good research librarian is like a shark; she’ll keep biting until she’s got exactly what she wants.

Etiquette counts: Send thank-you notes to contacts after they’ve featured you or your book. This happens so rarely they are sure to be impressed and to pay attention to the next idea you have, even if it’s just a listing in a calendar for your next book signing.

Partner with your publicist and publisher: Ask for help from their promotion department—even if it’s just for a sample press release.

Publicize who you are, what you do: Reviews aren’t the only way to go. E-books are important promotion tools and Twitter is big news right now (find me at Katy Walls, author of “The Last Step,” coordinated an “anthology” of recipes from authors who mention food in their books (yes, some my family’s ancient recipes from polygamist times are in it). It is a free e-book, a promotional CD, and great fodder for the local newspapers. If you’d like a copy, e-mail me at Use it as a cookbook and as a sample for your own e-book promotion.

Think of angles for human interest stories, not only about your book but about you as its author. Are you very young? Is writing a book a new endeavor for you? Several editors have liked the idea that I wrote my first book at an age when most are thinking of retiring, that I think of myself as an example of the fact that it is never too late to follow a dream.

Develop new activities to Get charities involved. Think in terms of ways to help your community.

Send professional photos with your release: Request guidelines from your target media. Local editors won’t mind if you send homey Kodak moment--properly labeled--along with your release. Some will use it; it may pique the interest of others and they’ll send out their own photographers. It’s best, however, to send only professional photos to the big guys.

Frequency is important: The editor who ignores your first release may pay more attention to your second or twenty-fifth. She will come to view you as a source and call you when she needs to quote an expert.  This can work for novels as well as nonfiction. I received a nice referral in my local newspaper because I am now an “expert” on prejudice, even though my book is a novel and not a how-to or self-help piece.

Follow Up: Shel Horowitz, author of Marketing Without Megabucks ( ), reports that follow-up calls boost the chances of a press release being published. Voice contact builds relationships better than any other means of communication.

Keep clippings: Professional publicists like Debra Gold of Gold & Company do this for their clients; you do it so you’ll know what’s working and what isn’t.

Evaluate: One year after your first release, add up the column inches. Measure the number of inches any paper gave you free including headlines and pictures. If the piece is three columns wide and each column of your story is six inches long, that is 18 column inches. How much does that newspaper charge per inch for their ads? Multiply the column inches by that rate to know what the piece is worth in advertising dollars. Now add 20% for the additional trust the reader puts in editorial material.

Set goals: You now have a total of what your year’s efforts have reaped.  New publicist-authors should set a goal to increase that amount by 100% in the next year.  If you already have a track record, aim for 20%.

Observe progress: Publicity is like planting bulbs. It proliferates even when you aren’t trying very hard. By watching for unintended results, you learn how to make them happen in the future.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON’T ( ), now in its expanded second edition. For a little over 2 cents a day THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER assures your book the best possible start in life. Full of nitty gritty how-tos for getting nearly free publicity, Carolyn Howard-Johnson shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She is a former publicist for a New York PR firm and a marketing instructor for UCLA's Writers' Program. Learn more about the author at .

Only One Life

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Sometimes during my day, I will take a few minutes and watch some YouTube or Tik Tok videos. Whenever I watch,...