Book Marketing and Book Promotion Using Book Signings

As a book publicist I have a strong opinion about book tours. Authors tend to think they are a great idea because they see Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rachael Ray, Howard Stern and other big names out on the circuit and think that’s the way to promote a book.

Frankly it’s just ONE way to promote a book and is an element in the overall marketing of a book. The reality is that unless you are well known it’ll be you, the Stack of Library Booksflower vase along with your book at the little table waiting for people to approach you. Now don’t get me wrong, book signings can be very useful and even if you don’t sell books it gives the media a reason to write about your book right now in order to promote the event. Without that reason to do the story right now, they have plenty of other books to write about since most reviewers are deluged with dozens to hundreds of books every week. And that’s where I believe book signings and book tours are most useful.

In fact, book stores that have turned down a client will happily book them knowing a mention of their store will be in an upcoming article. Westwind Communications has obtained media coverage and then pitched a book store with a guaranteed mention if they book the author. This technique usually works. How can they refuse? The PR for the book signing, which can be difficult and time consuming for them is already done.

Book stores want enough lead time to put an announcement in their newsletter, get a press release out to their contacts, create flyers and in-store promotion. They hate last minute plans, and who can blame them? So it’s important to work a few months in advance if possible. But should you get a media interview and you know it’s going to hit on a certain date then it makes sense to pitch a book signing to the area book stores and then get back to the media outlet to add that appearance in at the end of the story.

Book stores also like to have the book available in “their system” before booking an author signing. This means that the book has to be available on their computer when they look it up so it can be ordered through regular channels, IE their own system, Baker and Taylor etc. There are exceptions to everything and sometimes an author can bring books into the store and sell them giving the store the profit from each book as it would expect. But, that tends to throw a monkey wrench into the mix and the big national chains tend to shy away from this for one reason or another. Sometimes I believe it’s the extra paperwork it creates. In the case of a short notice booking you may have better luck going to smaller independent book stores where the owner is on site. It’s there where they may seize the opportunity. They tend to be more open at a chance to book an author for an in-store appearance.

The bottom line: There’s no way to know how you’ll be received in a book store, whether you’ll sell many books or even one book. But, unless you try it you’ll be wondering. So, my recommendation is to try it. See what happens. Frankly, often what happens is something good that goes way beyond simply selling a book. You might meet a local librarian who’ll invite you to speak to a library group, or a member of a book club who’ll do the same. You may find a member of the media who’s looking for a new angle on a story, or just trying to get some feature story ideas. After you’ve done a few book signings you can see if it’s worth your time and effort. You may just be surprised.

Writing Your Book was Only the First Step. Marketing Your Book is the Survival Step.

Marketing your book is too important a task to leave to the good intentions of a publisher.

Marketing your book is too important a task to leave to the good intentions of a publisher. Harsh words? Maybe, but after spending so much time writing your book, don’t assume the publisher will put the same effort into the marketing of your book. I hear this issue every day from authors who contact me to promote their books. Believe me, writing your book was only the first step, making your book known so it can be sold is the survival step.

What you must always remember is that it does absolutely no good to promote your book if it is not readily available to buyers either at bookstores, online or by phone.

After writing your book, do not hurry your book into the market. With 175,000+ new books every year, the world is not waiting for your book to hit the stores. So take all the time you need to market it correctly.

The key to marketing is to really know your book. What is the overwhelming message your book conveys? Whether you self-promote or hire a professional, you must know your message so you can know your market.

If you decide to self-promote, I strongly recommend the purchase of MAXIMUM EXPOSURE Marketing System Book Marketing Training Program for Publishers and Authors by Tami DePalma and Kim Dushinski. This is a very well written publication that teaches authors all about marketing their book. If it’s not in here it’s not important.

I also recommend that authors purchase John Kremer’s 1,001 Ways to Market Your Book. This is a collection of techniques and tactics that have been used by other authors in the promotion of their books. Sometimes it’s better to follow a path created by someone else than to spend time and energy forging a new one.

John Kremer says, “Eighty percent of all books are sold by word of mouth, but it’s publicity that primes the marketing pump. Remember that you cannot do everything, so hire the right persons to do the things you can’t do. If you’re not comfortable doing your own publicity, then hire someone who does it for a living.” You can purchase his newly revised book at: http://www.bookmarket.com

This is the advice I would give to those brave authors willing to self-promote. But, very frankly, I do not recommend self-promotion, for the same reason you don’t cut your own hair. You can do it, but it’s not going to be that good. Book marketing and promotion requires special skills and most authors simply do not know how to market a book nor do they have the time or, more importantly, the patience.

At a recent media conference I attended in New York City, the producers of the Today Show and Good Morning America said they each receive about 75 books every day! With those incredible numbers, unless an author has a PR person trying to get their book on top of the heap for them it’s unlikely their book will ever get on the radar screen.

Getting media coverage is all about creating interesting ‘angles.” I try to find out everything I can about the author using a questionnaire that even asks about fraternities or sorority membership, roommates in college, and other tidbits about them personally and about the book itself. We then use this information to craft a pitch that entices the media to want to interview the author. To me it’s like going fishing, you use whatever bait you can and keep changing it until you find the one that really works. And, like fishing, the bait that works today may not work tomorrow and that’s where most people will give up. With thousands of media outlets, this is a very time-consuming task. Unless an author has someone skilled in book marketing, their potential best-seller is just one of a million books lost on the shelves of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and in the “ether” of Amazon.com.”

My approach to book promotion involves the following:

To successfully market your book, you need to determine who will read it. Once we really zero in and determine who your audience is, we can target the media they read directly.

We make sure galleys and the finished books are sent to the reviewers at major publications and broadcast outlets. We write and send press releases, pitch letters in an electronic press kit and make follow up phone calls to media outlets encouraging reporters and reviewers to write about our client’s book.

Being reviewed by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY are major goals. In fact USA Today has 4.3 million readers every day. Furthermore, it gets more notice from the other media than the other four newspapers combined. That’s a major reason why we will make a concerted effort to get our authors noticed by USA TODAY.

We also contact national magazines and others that may be interested in the author’s “personal” story. Sometimes the media is more interested in the author than the book itself and that is just one more angle we’ll use to promote our client’s book.

We contact TV and radio outlets. Every day thousands of interviews are conducted on TV and Radio stations across North America and several hundred are with authors. If you are not trying to get interviewed by the producers of those shows they won’t find you because they simply don’t have time to look for you. We have developed relationships with many producers over the years and those contacts combined with well-thought-out pitches produce results.

We regularly go to New York where we have face-to-face meetings with journalists, editors, writers and producers from top national magazines, newspapers and radio/TV programs. We have successfully pitched such media outlets as 20/20, Prime Time, CNN, People, Good Morning America, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Dateline NBC, The View, Oprah’s O magazine, Cosmopolitan, Fox News, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek.

If you don’t have a web site for your book, create one. We’ll refer media to your site for more information and to download book jackets, author photos etc.

Remember, writing your book was only the first step. Making your book known is the survival step.

Book Marketing Tips from TV Producer, Radio Talk Show Host and Book Publicist

Book marketing experts know that authors who get excited about landing an interview may lose sight of the goal, which is not to gain media interviews but to sell books. And it’s sad but true that an interview does not automatically generate sales. Effective interviews generate sales; ineffective interviews merely produce idle talk.

The author who can generate sales from a television or radio interview is the author who knows how to relate to the specific audience listening to that show. Newscaster in Television StudioA book is sold when a listener is motivated to take action now.

While many authors are skilled in interviewing other people, they are not skilled in being interviewed themselves. The skills needed to generate sales from interviews are best obtained through media coaching or media training.

Media coaching will give authors the skills to learn how to use the media, not just to convey your message but to compel people to buy your book. As a book publicist I can pitch an author’s story and line up a TV or Radio interview, but most authors won’t be able to amaze listeners and compel them to buy without being trained by a media coach.

A media coach will show authors how to leverage interviews to create book sales, how to feel more comfortable on air and how to relieve the stress and anxiety that can come with interviews. A good media coach also will teach the secrets behind creating effective sound bites conveying the benefits they would get by buying the book.

Specifically, a media coach will reveal tips and let you practice these tried and true techniques, including:

  • How to control the interview
  • How to insure your message will be effective
  • How to employ bridging techniques to get back on track
  • How to deal with pitfalls that come up during an interview
  • How to answer the tough questions
  • How to look your best on camera
  • How to sound your best on radio
  • How to pitch your message to the host and listener
  • How to pitch without sounding like you are
  • How to compel the media to discuss your book
  • How producers and media people think and how to use that knowledge to your advantage
  • How to relate to a specific audience
  • How to leverage an interview into book sales
  • How to get free publicity on TV and Radio
  • How to get the media to hate you (by not returning their phone calls)
  • And, how to get invited back

Media coach Jess Todtfeld, who is a former producer for Bill O’Reilly of FOX-TV’s The O’Reilly Factor, says that every interview is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to connect with an audience, to get your point of view to the masses. Most people don’t realize that it must go beyond that. You must motivate the audience to take an interest in you and “do something.” Whether it’s buying your book, going to your web site, or just finding out about you, you must compel them to take that next step. Todtfeld has seen many people use to media to get what they want, but many authors and amateurs make some of the common mistakes. He should know, he’s booked more that 4,000 TV segments with politicians, celebrities and actors on two networks. http://www.successinmedia.com/

Radio Interviews provide a tremendous opportunity for authors or anyone with a story to tell. Radio interviews are great because they can be done anytime out of your home, office or automobile (if you aren’t driving). But like any successful marketing venture, radio interviews don’t just happen. Here are some very useful suggestions:

  • Be on time. Call the station exactly at the time they tell you, and be at your phone waiting if the station is going to call you.
  • Disable call waiting: dial *70 and then call the number. This disables call waiting for the duration of the phone call. As soon as you hang up, it will be reactivated.
  • Be self-assured. Remember you know your topic inside and out. Be confident in your ability.
  • Smile, smile, smile, whether on radio or TV – SMILE. You’ll feel better, and for TV you’ll look better too.
  • Research the show and tailor your message accordingly. Just Google the host’s name and station. Is it a national audience or a small town in Ohio? You need to know.
  • Practice your sound bites. Communicate your main points succinctly.
  • Be prepared for negative comments, from the host or listeners.
  • Be informative and entertaining without directly pushing your book. Make the audience “want more.”
  • A kind word about the host can go a long way. It’s good manners and good business.
  • A persons name is sweet music to them so commit to memory the name of the host and use it throughout the interview. When taking calls, use the names of callers too.

The last time I talked with Michael Dresser, a well-known media coach http://www.mymediacoach.com/ Michael told me that there are some realities he makes sure all of his clients know about the media. Dresser says “an interview is an acquired skill. It is a process with a strategy working toward a fixed finish line. Bring your message to the audience in a way that is real for them. Do this by using stories and anecdotes that allow your audience to see themselves in your interview message. Interact with your audience on a one to one basis. Think of a radio interview as an intimate conversation with a friend and not a conversation with thousands. If you stay with the process, the influence and effect of your message will match the intent you had going in. It’s important to go into the interview with a positive attitude and energetic manner. You must be entertaining, informative and persuasive, or you will talking to an empty microphone.”

I pay attention to Michael Dresser because he has been a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for 23 years, and has interviewed thousands of guests. He understands what it takes to be a great guest and understands what prevents someone from achieving that level of success in the interview process. Dresser helps people he coaches to keep their answers short, to stay focused, and to develop a message that will produce results. If you invest in a media coach, use someone like Dresser who was in the game and knows how it’s played.

Media coach and speech trainer TJ Walker http://www.speakcast.com/ says that because talking to the media is like no other conversation you will ever have, it requires your full concentration and all the skills you can muster. Because of that demand, Walker puts his students through a live interview that he videotapes for instructional purposes. “The camera doesn’t lie,” stresses Walker. “You will learn how to look your best on TV — if not on the first take, then by the 20th take. There is no way to ‘fake it’ in my one-on-one training course. You will be in the hot seat, the lights will be shining in your eyes, and the microphone will be stuck in your face. Although not always relaxing, the videotaping will turn students into a media pro, ready for any type of media situation.”

Among the types of opportunities an author should be trained to face, says Walker, are live television and radio, ambush interviews, TV and radio talk shows, celebrity appearances, in-studio interviews, newspaper interviews, editorial board meetings, radio talk shows, Internet interviews, edited news programs, training videos, phone interviews, infomercials, press conferences, spokesperson training, and book tours.

Walker’s views are based on 22 years of training CEOs, Prime Ministers and Nobel Peace Prize winners in addition to training managers and staff in client companies such as Microsoft, Bank of America, Unilever, and McDonalds. TJ is the most widely published and produced media trainer in the globe, with more than 50 books, training videos, CDs, and software programs to his credit. I consider TJ Walker’s book, Presentation Training A-Z, to be a must-read.

I’ve heard TJ Walker say many times, and I agree with him that the successful author will carefully analyze what radio or TV shows to book. In book marketing, a book cannot be promoted without first identifying who the readers are in advance of a single sale. Find the reasons why that reader will read that book and then craft a message to be conveyed to information sources that reader relies upon.

Don’t bombard the market with propaganda but send out promotional information to selected streams that reach specific persons. That approach has always worked and always will. Salesmen know that you can’t sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo because he has no need of one, but you’d have a shot at selling him thermal underwear. So follow Walker’s advice — know your niche and then select the TV or Radio Show that your niche audience listens to or watches.

To successfully market a book, determine who will read it and then target that media directly. By way of example, one of my clients has published a book of poetry. Now the average person won’t buy a collection of poetry. However, certain people love poetry, so we aim our book marketing efforts for this client to poetry magazines, poetry web sites and poetry societies.

Book Marketing Expert and Book Publicist Scott Lorenz Interviewed by Bookpleasures.com Founder Norm Goldman

Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and book marketing firm.

One of the services Scott provides is as a book publicist and book marketing expert.

Good day Scott and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview about book marketing.

Norm:

Scott, could you tell our readers something about yourself, and a brief description of Westwind Communications.
Scott:

Westwind Communications helps clients get all the publicity they deserve and more. We work with a wide variety of small to medium sized businesses, including Doctors, Lawyers, Inventors, Authors and Entrepreneurs. We have extensive media contacts that have produced volumes of clippings and hours of broadcast coverage including: Fox & Friends, Good Morning America, Today Show, Early Show, HBO, CNN, ESPN, NPR, Voice of America, USA Today, Investors Business Daily and The Wall Street Journal.

Norm:

How did you get into the business book marketing?

Scott:

I started my own PR firm after working for several companies handling their PR. People kept asking me to do PR for them and it grew from there. Then authors heard of my successes and they began calling me to market their books. The rest is history.

Norm:

What are the essential ingredients in effectively marketing authors and their books?

Scott:

In the best possible situation, the book must be on an interesting topic appealing to a broad audience that ties into national breaking news. The author must be a good communicator and/or have a good story to tell.

Norm:

What is the difference between PR, advertising and marketing when it comes to books?

Scott:

Marketing is the integration of advertising, PR and sales. It’s the big umbrella under which PR and Advertising sit. Some people confuse a PR firm with a marketing firm, or marketing agency, or even an ad agency. Basically a public relations firm handles media relations and is the interface between an author and the news media. PR is FREE. The media does not charge people to write an article about them or interview them for TV or Radio.

A public relations firm or publicist will “pitch” the media on a story idea about an author. A good pitch about a story that would interest the people who read, watch or listen to a particular media outlet gets coverage. Advertising is when the author or publisher pays for an ad in a media outlet. For the most part you can control when it’s published, what it says and who is going to see it because you are paying for it. With PR you do not have those same controls. Marketing in the book world is when an author or publisher sells to specific markets like the military or catalogue market, bookstores or retail outlets.

Norm:

Today, many authors self-publish their books- do you find it difficult to market self-published books, and is there any difference between marketing the self-published book and the main stream published books?

Scott:
Westwind Communications generates publicity for authors who self publish or use a traditional publisher. I’ve had self published authors in every major media outlet from USA Today to FOX & Friends. Well written self published books can enter the market faster, and they can get a lot of media attention. Enlightened authors who self publish also realize that they need to self promote and possibly hire a publicist. Main stream publishers have in some cases dozens and dozens of books to promote and they cannot focus on any one book for long.

Frankly, the only people who snub their nose at self published work are major book reviewers at major publications who use that criteria to weed out the hundreds of books they receive each week. And in their defence, there are a lot of self published books that are poorly written and poorly distributed. They may also conclude that a self published book is hard to get. They may conclude ‘why write about a book that nobody can find?’ But, many major media outlets simply refuse to recognize self published works – sometimes to their detriment.

Norm:
What challenges or obstacles have you encountered while promoting books? How did you overcome these challenges?

Scott:
We’ve faced a lot of challenges and obstacle in the promotion of our client’s books. , We’ve handled many genres, from poetry and fiction to western romance and sports, and they all offer challenges. For example, a book with regional interest hampers the PR effort because the book is only of interest to those people in the region. Or a book about a disease which is not widespread also means fewer media outlets would want to write about it since there would be only a few members of their audience interested. On the other hand, a book with national scope has much greater chance of getting more exposure since there are more media outlets in which to pitch the book.

Westwind Communications has promoted both types of books and there are pros and cons in dealing with both. When limits are placed on the market where the book would find readership and sales it also limits the likely media exposure. For example a book about the history of a small factory town in Ohio is not likely to get on national TV or play in national magazine unless you find some national tie in. However, if a book were about “Retirement Funding,” that topic covers just about everyone in the USA.

Also, every book has a local angle, focusing on wherever the author is from or currently resides. If you can’t get local PR for an author there’s a big problem. Also, the media is usually very friendly to a local author. Good PR can begin at home, although sometimes it takes national exposure to get the attention of your hometown media.

I am currently working with an author who suffered a stroke and has difficulty speaking. While this poses a significant problem for radio and TV interviews he still has a sharp mind. Just think about astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and how he has overcome his inability to communicate verbally and you’ll understand the challenge we’ll have in the promotion of his books. But, it also gives me an angle to use with the media in that here’s someone who has overcome a huge obstacle to become a published author.

Norm:
Do you have any unique ways marketing your books that are different from how others market their books?

Scott:
If I tell you I’d have to… hire you! Seriously, Norm, getting media coverage is all about creating interesting “angles.” I try to find out everything I can about the author using a questionnaire that even asks about fraternities or sorority membership, roommates in college, and other tidbits about them personally and about the book itself. We then use this information to craft a pitch that entices the media to want to interview the author. To me it’s like going fishing – you use whatever bait you can and keep changing it until you find the one that really works. And, like fishing, the bait that works today may not work tomorrow and that’s where most authors and other publicists will give up. With thousands of media outlets, this is a very time-consuming task. Unless an author has someone skilled in book publicity, their potential best-seller is just one of a million books lost on the shelves of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and in the “ether” of Amazon.com.”

My approach to BOOK MARKETING involves the following:

  • To successfully market a book, you need to determine who will read it. Once we really zero in and determine who the audience is, we can target the media they read directly.
  • We make sure galleys and the finished books are sent to the reviewers at major publications and broadcast outlets. We write and send press releases, pitch letters in an electronic press kit and make follow up phone calls to media outlets encouraging reporters and reviewers to write about our client’s book.
  • Being reviewed by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY are major goals. In fact USA Today has 4.3 million readers every day. Furthermore, it gets more notice from the other media than the other four newspapers combined. That’s a major reason why we will make a concerted effort to get our authors noticed by USA TODAY.
  • We also contact national magazines and others that may be interested in the author’s “personal” story. Sometimes the media is more interested in the author than the book itself and that is just one more angle we’ll use to promote our client’s book.
  • We contact TV and radio outlets. Every day thousands of interviews are conducted on TV and Radio stations across North America and several hundred are with authors. If an author is not trying to get interviewed by the producers of those shows they won’t find him/her because they simply don’t have time to look. We have developed relationships with many producers over the years and those contacts combined with well-thought-out pitches produce results.
  • We go to major media events in New York City where we have face-to-face meetings with journalists, editors, writers and producers from top national magazines, newspapers and radio/TV programs. We have successfully pitched such media outlets as 20/20, Prime Time, CNN, People, Good Morning America, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Dateline NBC, The View, Oprah’s O magazine, Cosmopolitan, Fox News, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek to name a few.
  • If an author does not have a web site for their book they need to create one. We’ll refer media to the site for more information and to download book jackets, author photos etc.

Norm:
What do you think of authors’ tours and how effective are these in the promotion and marketing of a book?

Scott:
As a book publicist I have a strong opinion about book tours. Authors tend to think they are a great idea because they see Bill and Hillary Clinton, Harvey McKay and other big names out on the circuit and think that’s the way to promote a book. Frankly it’s just ONE way to promote a book and is an element in the overall marketing of a book. The reality is that unless you are well known it’ll be you, the flower vase, and your book at the little table waiting for people to approach you. Now don’t get me wrong – book signings can be very useful, and even if you don’t sell books it gives the media a reason to write about your book right now in order to promote the event. Without the signing, your book goes back in the pile with a few hundred other books the reporter can write about. And that’s where I believe book signings and book tours are most useful.

In fact book stores that have turned down a client will happily book them knowing a mention of their store will be in an upcoming article. Westwind Communications has obtained media coverage and then pitched a book store with a guaranteed mention if they book the author. This technique usually works. How can they refuse? The PR for the book signing, which is very difficult and time consuming for them is already done.

Book stores want enough lead time to put an announcement in their newsletter, get a press release out to their contacts and create flyers etc. They hate last minute plans, (who doesn’t) so it’s important to work a few months in advance if possible. But should you get a media interview and you know its going to hit on a certain date then it makes sense to pitch a book signing to the area book stores and then get back to the media outlet to add that appearance in at the end of the story.

Book stores also like to have the book available in “their system” before booking an author signing. This means that the book has to be available on their computer when they look it up so it can be ordered through regular channels, IE their own system, Ingram, Baker and Taylor etc. There are exceptions to everything and sometimes an author can bring books into the store and sell them, giving the store the profit from each book it would normally expect. But, that tends to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, and the big national chains will shy away from this. You may have better luck going to independent book stores where the owner is on site. They tend to be more interested at a chance to book an author for an in-store appearance.

Norm:
How do you use the Internet in the promoting of an author’s book, and do you believe the Internet has an important place in the marketing plan? If so, why?

Scott:
I know Internet promotion works since I use it myself to promote my own PR firm. We distribute press releases and articles about our clients’ book to numerous Internet outlets such as ezines and blogs. These then become searchable by keywords and most likely will drive traffic to the author’s web site. We may never see the posting or even get a notice or a news clip about it, but web site traffic can increase because of these releases and articles. Furthermore, people use news gathering services that search the Internet for stories about their areas of interest. If a topic they have selected comes up in a blog or press release written by us they’ll get a copy of that press release in their email. This demonstrates that not all benefits from publicity need to come through traditional media channels.

Members of the media research everything online too. In one particular case I had placed a release online and then a blogger saw it, wrote about it in her blog. That blog then showed up when a writer for a major top ten city newspaper searched a particular term. That led the reporter to the blog and then my release which resulted in an interview, photo session and a very nice feature story for my client who was introducing a new medical procedure.
Then of course there’s Internet promotion on Amazon and Google. On Amazon its important for authors to utilize every and all opportunities from adding reviews on their own books to commenting on other books while mentioning their own book. On Google, their Book Search program opens up sections of their book so that they are searchable. This should help drive sales. The list of things to do online goes on and I could fill a book itself on the topic.
So, yes, marketing on the internet works and it’s an important part of all my client’s campaigns.

Norm:
How do you use book reviews in the promotion of a book?

Scott:
People will tell their friends and associates about a book review they read in a magazine or newspaper, see on television, or hear on the radio about a book because the media is a third party, disinterested source disseminating the information. That’s why getting book reviews is so important in starting the “word of mouth” every successful author desires. Furthermore, people believe what they see in the media thereby granting a third party endorsement which is far more effective than a paid ad.

Being reviewed by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY are major goals. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, USA Today has 4.3 million readers every day. And, it gets more notice from the other media (radio and TV especially) than the other four newspapers combined. That’s a major reason why Westwind Communications will make a concerted effort to get our client’ book get noticed by USA TODAY. 9 times out of 10, an appearance in USA TODAY will lead to other media notice as well because, “PR begets PR – the more you get the more you get.”

Then there’s an entirely different set of reviewers who can help “prime the pump,” so to speak in that you can use their comments in the early press material which can help set the tone for future media coverage. These early reviews are critical in “spinning” things the way the author wants it to go. Many of these reviewers read hundreds of books per year. They’ve graduated from the finest educational institutions in the US and while talented, there’s only so many jobs reviewing books at the NY Times. These reviewers pen some of the best commentary ever composed, yet are independent reviewers for Amazon or have their own book review web sites.

Norm:
Is there any difference between promoting non-fiction and fiction?

Scott:
Fiction is a tough genre. Some PR firms won’t even touch fiction but Westwind Communications has had success in getting media coverage. How? In one case one of my authors had bi-polar disorder. We tied into “National Bipolar” day in November with a media campaign and raised the profile of the author just with that association. With another book, whose topic was bio-terrorism, we tied into the national debate about whether or not the USA was ready for a bio-terror event. The author was able to comment on the issues in the news manifesting out of the 911 attacks.

As for non fiction, this is clearly more promotable over fiction, as there numerous built-in media opportunities. For one, if the topic is of national interest and the author is a noted expert, then that has a lot more potential getting press than a fiction piece. Radio talk show hosts like non fiction because there’s less risk of losing the audience while trying to explain a plot.

Norm:
Is it very costly to hire a marketing expert to promote one’s book? How are you compensated?

Scott:
I ask authors this: What is the cost of your book not being read? What is the cost if it’s not sold? What is the value of your book two years from now? Will it even have value two years from now? As for hiring a publicist, consider your self lucky if you can afford a publicist because without one you’ll be paying for it one way or another in the form of bad choices for advertising, missed national PR opportunities and “PR tuition” that costs you your time.

As for how Westwind Communications is compensated, we operate on a monthly retainer fee. in a nut shell, the retainer allows the author to have a fixed budget amount for PR and it allows my firm to rely on a steady cash flow. The work goes up and down depending upon the needs of the campaign. Authors will also appreciate the logic of this concept as the billing process is simplified for both of us. For example, a let’s say an author obtains a new book signing in Chicago that was not on the schedule. We’ll put our writers on it and deliver a release to the media and pitch the story. There is no RUSH fee or other up-charges that other PR firms add on. There are also wire service fees that my firm pays for as well as phone and fax fees. There is no way authors want to review that detail every month and frankly it would cost us hundreds of dollars per month to prepare a bill with such a breakdown. The very thought of doing it that way is rather terrifying!
There are other reasons we believe it’s in our mutual interest to use retainer fees over other billing methods but it serves everyone well so long as the expectations and goals are clear.

Norm:
Is there anything else you wish to add?

Scott:
Whew! The only other thing is that nobody in the media is sitting around waiting for a new book to land on their desk. In order for an author to get to the top of the pile they absolutely need to hire a publicist to help them or their book is destined to be lost in the ether of Amazon, Borders or Barnes and Noble. To discuss how Westwind Communications helps its clients get all the publicity they deserve and more call 734-667-2090 or email me at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or visit www.westwindcos.com/book

Norm:
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future book marketing endeavors.