Some of you might remember that for an April Fool's gag, we gave seven "hot tips" for author events.
Over at HarperStudio's blog The 26th Story, they're giving you the good stuff: a great blog post with five important (real) things to remember for authors who are having book signings at local stores.
Those tips include:
- We are investing in you. Invest in us!
- Don't spread yourself too thin.
- Please don't second-guess the bookstore.
- Stay calm; do not panic!
- Enjoy your big day!
Check out the blog post, "An Author Walks Into a Bookstore (for a signing)" to get the complete information.
Other links to check out on the how-tos, goods, bads, uglies, and mathematics of book signings and author events:
- E-How's How to Do a Bookstore Signing
- Chip MacGregor's Booksignings and Websites
- Publishing Explained's book signing: organizing for success
- The Swivet's Pimpin' Your Book: The Economics of the Average Bookstore Event
- The Book Deal's Attention shoppers: Lessons learned from a book signing disaster (contributed by author Lisa Haneberg)
If you have any stories to share about author events (both as an author and as an antendee), let us know!
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Getting news media coverage for your book can be challenging, especially when the number of traditional media outlets (such as daily newspaper book review sections) is shrinking. However, too many of the lucky or deserving handful who are given a chance to get their message to the masses waste their opportunity.
As one who has worked in book publishing for twenty years and has been involved in arranging thousands of interviews for authors, I can say that most authors—even seminar speakers, motivational trainers, and life coaches—often don’t fully exploit their knowledge, ability, or passion. Rather than turning their radio or television interview into a memorable, experience, they simply treat it as a defensive situation with a standard approach of “I just don’t want to be embarrassed.”
Here are nine ways to be proactive and steal the show.
1. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good line. Instead of merely making a statement, say something with some colorful language. One could say, “To lose weight, drink eight to ten glasses of water a day,”or you could show some personality: “If you wanna drop those ten unwanted pounds, then drop down ten glasses of water every day. Drink up or fatten up. It’s your choice.” See the difference?
2. Give an action step, not an advertisement. Never say, “You can buy my book at www.whatever.com.” Instead, say the name of your book in a smooth sentence: “How to Lose Weight on Your Lunch Break is like having a therapist in your bed. You can access twenty-five free tips at www.whatever.com." Now you’ve provided value and stated a specific offer.
3. Make a point and provide an example. People remember a story or something they can specifically identify with rather than an abstract statement.
4. Make it relevant when possible. Tie your message into the news or to what’s on people’s minds at a given moment in time.
5. Confess or admit to something. Don’t tell us you cheated on your spouse when you’re hawking a cookbook, but do tell us how your six-year-old kid thought your cake tasted like crap. Self-deprecating humor is good. Or tell us how you made a dish twenty times until you found the missing ingredient.
6. Create an enemy. Put every conversation in the context of good versus evil, new versus old, us versus them, etc. Enemies are everywhere. If you’re talking about personal finance, vilify government bailout and corporate greed; if you discuss a disease, you want to eradicate it; if you want to help parents be better at raising kids your enemy can be a situation (kids whining while you’re driving). There’s no end to finding a villain—it can be a person, group, ideology, circumstance, fate—whatever.
7. Express emotions and play to people’s fears, desires, needs, and weaknesses. Make assumptions about the people who will buy your book and identify their concerns. Your interviews should answer these concerns. If you wrote a book on dating and you know the fear of never getting married is in the back of your potential readers' minds, address the issue and do so in a way that it gives a positive, proactive feeling. This will naturally lead them to visit your site.
8. Ask the talk show host or his or her audience for help. Tell them you’re trying to do something (i.e., get people to stop smoking if your book is about addiction). Suggest people email you their ideas on how to eradicate the problem. Not only does it unite people, it gives you a whole bunch of email contacts to follow up with.
9. Be colorful, not boring. Think of a waitress who can simply bring you a plate of food or one who can do a little dance before serving you. Who will you remember? Don’t just drone on with useful info or ideas—deliver it with style.
Brian Feinblum is the Chief Marketing Officer of Planned Television Arts, a book publicity company and leader in the media placement field since 1962. If you want to know more on how to promote your book during a media interview, please send your queries to Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 212-583-2718.
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Are you a Tweet? Or a Tweeter, Twitterer, Twit, Birdie, etc? Regardless of what charming epithet you may think to dub it, the word is out: Twitter is the newest fad in digital neuroticism. (We mentioned it way back in ‘07, but its recent rise has been so meteoric, and so important in cementing the book community, that it’s definitely worth revisiting.) Twitter is a “micro-blog,” one that limits your total characters to 140 per post. This means a certain level of succinctness that I, regrettably, find difficult to attain (this post, for example, is 3370 characters).
But that’s part of the challenge and the fun: spread the message in the most concise way possible. Think of it as a series of unlimited online text messages. Said messages are spread to your followers, who need only subscribe to your account to follow your every digital budge, shift, or stir. And when Times Online reports even famous persons tweeting their hearts out, you know that it’s a smart move (personally and professionally) to join the fray.
[Time out for a moment: Is it silly that it made me rather happy when I discovered the hilarious Stephen Fry was the most popular of the “famous persons” on Twitter? Followed by the beloved Neil Gaiman at lucky thirteen. And spread the love for Kevin Smith and William Shatner. And I am such the nerd.]
I mention the Twitter today firstly because I have finally become a Tweet, this being my preferred soubriquet. (Greenleaf has also been Tweeting for a few weeks now as well. Follow us!). Secondly—and more important to you—I mention it because it’s a unique service that offers authors a marketing apparatus that is simple, free, and at your fingertips, accessible via computer and phone, day or night. Tweet, and your followers shall hear the call. As I have mentioned before, authors and would-be authors creating and maintaining a digital presence—a way for people to find you—has become increasingly important. And for authors, especially those who are self-published or with independent publishers, services such as Twitter are invaluable as an addition to websites, social networking pages and blogs, through which Twitter can provide a seamless interconnectedness through the use of applications or widgets. Once you’ve built up a few hundred followers—hopefully relevant ones, and ones you interact often with via Twitters @ replies), do something as simple as giving away five free galleys or copies of your book to the first five respondents. The contest will most likely last a matter of minutes, and you’ve gotten your work into the hands of readers who will, hopefully, enjoy your book and then talk (or Tweet) about it.
And remember that Twitter, like all manner of online apparatuses mentioned, is not only for spreading the word about yourself. It is also about discovering others. I will do unto you as you have done unto me: the more people you follow (or friend, or message, or e-mail), the more who reciprocate in kind, and the stronger your following will grow.
If you’re completely new to Twitter, start an account, follow a few people, and then watch and listen to get a feel for how it works. (Here’s a good guide to Twitter etiquette.) To learn about more writers who Tweet, check out Felicia Day’s blog, which has a growing list of authors on Twitter. Jennifer Tribe also has a terrific list of publishers and other book people who Tweet.
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We're forever reminding people to mention their book in media appearances. Preferably repeatedly, with a jumbo graphic of the cover momentarily superimposed over you and the host. Work the pitch into the conversation naturally and you're worth your weight in gold. You know, like this:
[youtube width="340" height="268"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90CLrQmZz_0
Here's the full Daily Show segment featuring Media Training Worldwide (of which TJ is CEO).
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Ah, the digital age. Gone are the days of pesky human interaction, reading body language, interpreting facial expressions, and actually putting clothes on in the morning. More and more authors are embracing the advantages and savings that online promotion can bring them. And the hottest way to make yourself known on the web? Blog tours.
Most authors know the hardships of a tour: you travel incessantly, spend hours in the bookstore hoping more than four people show up, and spend thousands of dollars to sell dozens of books. A tour can be beneficial for authors who travel for business, but it doesn’t make sense for everyone, especially with rising fuel prices. Authors are looking for new ways to reach out to a mass audience, and blogging has become a great way to connect with audiences on a personal level without having to travel extensively. You can take it a step further, though, and organize a blog tour to promote yourself, your book, and your message to varied audiences. Bloggers hold an increasing amount of power in today’s market, and with a few simple steps you can be on your way to virtual touring.
The first step is to create your own blog. You can blog about anything you want, and there are certainly some strange ones out there, but the best idea is to write about topics tied to the content of your book—and keep writing about them as often as possible. The most popular blogs tend to include current news in their postings, and if you can tie in your message with those postings, all the better. Joining a blogging network such as BlogHer also helps you connect with other authors and can give you links to future guest spots on other blogs. Many blogging networks also host meet and greets every year, another great way to get in contact with potential reviewers.
Organize a blog tour or host a tour on your own blog. You can build a network of authors and cross-pollinate your audiences to reach readers you might not have access to through your own blog. By hosting a tour, you can bring new traffic to your website. By touring other blogs, you automatically give yourself credibility with that blog's audience through the recommendation of its owner. There are professional tour organizers out there, but you can also do it yourself with a little elbow grease and determination.
Tim Ferriss, author of the bestselling The 4-Hour Work Week, writes about his successes with blog touring in lieu of traditional touring on his own blog. While he is obviously a great example of the extremes that online marketing can bring you, other authors can certainly enjoy various degrees of success with little or no monetary input.
There are many ways to get your message out there, but the key to any good tour is to be inventive and persistent. Consumers are bombarded with advertisements every second of the day, and in order to make your message stand out you’re going to have to think outside of the box. Way, way outside of the box.
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A few weeks ago, we posted five tips to help you be in top form for TV appearances. Here, courtesy once again of Marsha Friedman, are ten more tips to help you capitalize on valuable air-time when you appear as a TV guest.
1) Use “Tips” as part of your segment! If your topic offers helpful advice then tips are a great way to communicate your message. Television producers want to provide their viewers with useful content presented in a manner that is easy to understand. Develop five tips that solve a problem your topic addresses. Are you a fitness guru with a unique formulation for fat loss? Then offer five fat burning tips! Does your book offer advice about how to live a happier life? Then come up with 5 ways to live happier today!
2) If you’re pitching local TV, find the local angle. Local network affiliates are extremely valuable, so a great method to grab the producer's interest is to find the local tie-in for your topic. If you are a real estate guru, before going on air do your homework and find out what the real estate market is like in that city. Have you written a book about the American economy? Be prepared to talk about the economic climate in that particular city. By highlighting a local angle, your interview will resonate more with the host and the viewers.
3) Don't be monotone. It doesn't work. The alteration of pitch and tone in your voice will keep your audience interested. Stay animated. It's not only what you say, but how you say it that counts!
4) Prepare for personal questions. The job of a producer is to do research for the host about you and your topic, in preparation of your interview. If simple web research unearths two previous bankruptcies and you are promoting a CD series on how to make millions . . . be prepared! Often the best comeback is a real and even comical answer. It will not only endear you to the audience but can deflect the tone of an antagonistic interviewer.
5) Don't overload your interview with statistics. Use stats and numbers wisely. For example, if you have written a book about natural methods of preventing diabetes, the fact that 20.8 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes is important. But if you also mention that 85,000 diabetics have their feet amputated and 12 million people will go blind from it, these statistics will create more of an emotional impact on the host and viewers.
6 ) Double-check your contact information. Before you go on-air, make sure your website is up, your toll free phone number is working and you have a list of the retail outlets where your book can be purchased. Why? If you share the incorrect contact information during your interview, you defeat the whole purpose of your appearance. Also, if you give a great interview and viewers can’t find your book, the TV station will get overloaded with calls from viewers asking for information—and reflects poorly on you as a guest.
7) Record and critique your interviews. Watch your interview numerous times and observe the different elements of your performance. How well did you answer the questions? Did your clothes send the right message? What did your body language say about you? Did you seem natural or rehearsed? Did you remember all of your sound bites? Did you interrupt the host? Identify the points you felt were weak and do whatever you can to strengthen them before your next interview.
8) Look good / feel good. Sleep and good nutrition are obviously important to our daily mental and physical well being; it makes us look better, feel better, and think clearly. But these health points are even more important when you factor in the stress of an important media interview. So try to get a good night’s sleep—and a healthy breakfast before your interview. Don't overdose on the caffeine either! You want to be at the top of your game for your TV appearance.
9) Be gracious on and off the air. Remember to thank the host for the interview while you're still on-air. Make sure to thank the producer as well. It’s also a good practice to send a brief thank you note to the host and the producer. It’s good manners and presents you as a consummate professional. It can also increase your chances of being remembered in the future, when they need to interview an expert on your topic.
10) Prepare for the pre-interview. When it comes to national TV, you may be asked for a “pre-interview”. Don’t take this lightly. Be prepared with your message; be energetic, informative and appropriately entertaining. The interview isn’t completely secured until you pass this test!
Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on publicity for authors for nearly two decades as CEO of Event Management Services, Inc (EMSI). If you would like to receive her free e-book, How to Be a Great Talk Radio Guest, visit emsincorporated.com.
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Ever watch morning TV and think, "Hey, I can do that!" Well the truth is that if you have a book, product, or service to promote to consumers, there is absolutely no reason why you can't appear as a guest on TV!
But what does it take to be a good guest? Here are five simple tips to get you started and help you capitalize on the valuable airtime at your disposal:
1) Don't overdo the makeup, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, both women and men are repeat offenders in this category. There's no need to go to the station with a full face of make-up. You'll find most producers are prepared to give you a quick once-over when you arrive so that you look good for the cameras. Shallow as it may sound, it's hard for viewers to take you seriously if they're too busy zeroing in on a face that's overly made-up.
2) Check your props. As TV is all about visuals (no matter what your topic is) it's likely you'll have some kind of props for your interview. Take stock of them before the interview to make sure they're in good shape with all parts intact. For example, if you're conducting a "how-to" demonstration, ensure your equipment and tools are clean and at the ready. If you'll be using the station's stove for a cooking segment, make sure it works. If your prop is your book, hold it on your lap with an un-tattered front cover facing the audience.
3) Stay seated! When your interview draws to a close and it appears that the camera has stopped focusing on you, don't stand up and take off your microphone! It's the job of the floor manager to remove the mic for you and give you the all-clear to leave. By leaving prematurely, you could run the risk of ruining a perfectly good camera shot and coming off as an unprofessional guest.
4) Speak in a conversational manner. When people get nervous about being on camera, they tend to speak too fast and sometimes tense up—which can be very distracting for the audience. To relieve the nervous tension, you first need to get comfortable. Look around and get familiar with the studio and set. Introduce yourself to the host, producer, and camera crew. Locate where you'll be seated during the interview. Then, when the interview starts, you'll feel less like you're in a strange environment. You'll look more at ease and feel like the ultimate pro!
5) No arguing! Unless you are on a show that thrives on arguing, being combative on a show is not suggested. Your goal as a guest is to win over the audience; something that can be tricky if a question makes you feel angry or combative. If you've been ambushed with a nasty question, remain dignified and answer calmly. Losing your temper won't boost your credibility; plus, it makes you look defensive, which is definitely not the best position to be in when trying to promote your message.
So there you have it! A good solid start in making the most of your time on the air!
Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on publicity for authors for nearly two decades as CEO of Event Management Services, Inc (EMSI). If you would like to receive her free e-book, How to Be a Great Talk Radio Guest, visit emsincorporated.com.
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Have you started Facebooking yet? If not, now might be a good time to start. This week Facebook announced the launch of a groundbreaking new social advertising system.
A key feature of the system is that it allows Facebook users to notify their network of friends whenever they make purchases and recommendations on other participating websites. According to Advertising Age, users will be able to let their network know when they post an item on eBay, rent a movie on Blockbuster.com, or, most importantly, rate a book on Amazon.com.
Another new feature lets businesses and artists build pages on Facebook to connect with their audiences. As I've mentioned before, social networks are great for spreading word of mouth and creating online buzz for your book. Go here to set up a book or author page and start networking with fans and friends. Then you can encourage your network to post an Amazon review of your book and broadcast it to their own Facebook friends with the Amazon Book Reviews application.
With this revolutionary social advertising system and its existing partnership with Shelfari (the largest social media site for book lovers), Facebook may soon become the social network of choice for authors.
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There isn't much to say about YouTube that hasn't already been said, but it would be careless to exclude this mammoth of social media from our series. And "mammoth" is no exaggeration: YouTube is big, hairy, and, er, tusk-wielding. Well, at least it's the first of those three, unless we were to explore some extended metaphor. Get this: YouTube has the eighth largest audience on the Internet, pulling in 55 million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. Read: YouTube's no fad. Google doesn't pay $1.65 billion for fads. And fads don't hold this much book marketing and publicity potential.
So, what exactly does YouTube---or at least the technology it employs---mean for book publishing?
Well, duh, book trailers for one. (But that's not all. More later.) In an interview with Publishers Weekly blogger Barbara Vey, Sheila Clover English, CEO of book trailer producer Circle of Seven Production, said she "expect[s] to see book video become a main element in most authors' marketing campaigns." Whether trailers become the "main" element remains to be seen, but there's little doubt that online marketing and publicity efforts---including YouTube and other social media---will become standard in book launches.
This year Simon & Schuster partnered with the New York Film Academy to create the "Reel Reads Book Sizzle Contest," in which 400 students were invited to create a three minute trailer for one of S&S's titles. The contest itself hasn't much to do with YouTube, but another S&S project does: BookVideosTV. BookVideosTV is a channel on YouTube that exhibits book marketing and publicity possibilities other than book trailers. It features author profiles and even some behind-the-scene looks at the book in the developmental stage. It's like VH1's "Behind the Music," but twice as sordid! (No, not really. Not at all.)
So, bottom line, YouTube can be way more than just trailers for books. Even Oprah and Harpo Studios announced this month the launch of the "Oprah on YouTube" channel. Neither the press release nor Oprah's welcome video mentioned Oprah's Book Club specifically, but who knows? Perhaps the juggernaut that is Oprah's Book Club will eventually find a second home on YouTube.
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Wouldn't it be nice to pen a brilliant book and have the world instantly adore your genius? It doesn't work that way, of course: "The End" means the beginning of your transformation into an industry-savvy member of the writing community. You'll take away huge benefits if you are aware of the myriad available resources for independent authors like yourself. Here's some advice to help you take advantage of them:
Become a member of guilds and other associations: Don't be a starving artist type, beleaguered with the financial repercussions of your writing profession. That's so cliché. These groups can get you discounts, health benefits, and free stuff:
- MediaBistro's AvantGuild – As if MediaBistro wasn't resourceful enough, its AvantGuild membership gives you access to a wealth of additional tools. For $49 for a year membership or $78 for two years, you get access to "Pitching an Agent" articles, discounts to writing and publishing courses and workshops, free magazine subscriptions, and even discounts on yoga and acupuncture--you know, stress relief for all of that writing, rewriting, editing, and rejection.
- Authors Guild – Established in 1912, the Authors Guild provides health insurance, legal services, and advocacy for authors of all types. Dues for the initial year of membership are $90; after that they are calculated by the member's income from writing.
- PMA, The Independent Book Publishers Association – Dues for membership to this organization start at $160 for non-publishers, and the < title="benefits" href="http://www.pma-online.org/benefits/membenefits.aspx" target="_blank">benefitsinclude (among many others) discounted shipping and ad rates, health and liability insurance, discounted access to Neilsen Bookscan, and participation in Publishing University Online, which offers interactive Web/phone seminars.
Read blogs: There’s a wealth of blogs out there offering news and more with fresh voices and uncensored opinions. By reading a sampling of these, you'll have a finger on the pulse of the book biz, catching the latest trends, news stories, and advice. Explore the book blogosphere and navigate blogrolls to find something you like. Some of our favorites:
- MediaBistro's GalleyCat – The self-described "First Word on the Book Publishing Industry," GalleyCat blogs all day about industry happenings, authors, and the scandals that occasionally arise in the industry.
- Book Slut – Interested in hearing what literary luminaries, agents, and editors have to say? Book Slut interviews some of the latest, greatest minds in literature and publishing and posts the interviews for all to read.
- Grumpy Old Book Man – Is publishing a very friendly business? That's the title of a post by the Grumpy Old Book Man, an English writer who blogs about his experiences in the industry.
- The Millions – Blogger C. Max Magee and a host of contributors have kept The Millions up-to-date for well over four years, making this site respectably middle aged in blog years. Bibliophiles will salivate over entries like "Hard to Pronounce Literary Names Redux" and "Pagination Blues."
And if you think you’re addicted to coffee, just wait until you get hooked on a morning injection of publishing news via a daily email. Sign up for Shelf Awareness and PW Daily to ensure you’re in the know.
Know how to find an agent: If you're going through an agent, you're surely tired of boilerplate responses from literary agents that "regret to inform you that unsolicited manuscripts are not reviewed." Try here:
- Litmatch – Like eHarmony for unpartnered authors, Litmatch not only provides comprehensive profiles but will list agents looking for books just like yours!
- AgentQuery – Another database, but also features a conference listing and MySpace-like author/agent networking site.
- Everyone Who's Anyone in Adult Trade Publishing – A long list of literary agents, interspersed with the compiler’s eccentric but often illuminating correspondence with them as he tries to find representation.
Become a regular at a relevant forum: Online forums are a great way to network and learn from the successes—and harrowing failures—of your fellow authors. Don’t be a lurker, flamer, or troll. Be active, make connections, and get the inside scoop on a wide range of industry topics with these communities. And don't forget to take what you read on message boards with a grain of salt. You may run into a crazy or two.
- Absolutewrite.com forum – Want some pre-submission advice from writers who have lived to tell the tale? Check out the "Bewares and Background Checks" section in AbsoluteWrite's Water Cooler discussion forum, where authors exchange advise and issue warnings about their experiences with certain literary agents. Other forum sections include "Networking: Sharing Leads," "Grammar for Grasshoppers," and "Rejection and Dejection."
- Yahoo Publishing and Promoting group – Learn how to beef up your readership with promotion and publicity tips other authors have used.
- Yahoo Self-Publishing group – Sponsored by SPAN, you can find spirited discussions here from self-published authors and small presses about how to publish and market your own books.