|public relations methodology|
From Book Idea to the Book Shelf: The Process & Business of Publishing
There were some amazing panelists:
Quinlan Lee from the Adams Agency; freelance editor Carin Siegfried, formerly of St. Martin's Press; author MaryBeth Whalen; Angela Harwood, VP of Sales & Marketing at John F. Blair Publishing; Amanda Phillips of Baker & Taylor distributors; Sally Brewster of Park Road Books; marketing, sales and promotion consultant, Susan Walker; and Nancy Clare Morgan, former publicist at Random House Inc.
You can follow the link above to a summary of the event, but I want to concentrate on the publicist, Nancy Clare Morgan. She's the one with relevant tidbits on building buzz, maximizing IMPACT, and possibly getting our books shelved, face forward, at front of the store.
Here's a glimpse into the life of a book, through the eyes of a publicist.
1) The book is evaluated for a print schedule. Is it a good beach read? Then spring release dates make sense. Ms. Morgan's example: It's no mistake that a book about Tiger Woods is scheduled for release just before the Masters.
2) Bylines are developed. Get interesting, so your credits are more than "Joe-the-writer's debut". For non-fiction writers, this is easier, because there is usually some sort of credibility or a platform of expertise to draw from - Dr. such and such, cardiologist, etc. What is a fiction author to do? I'll think on that one. Maybe someone will be kind enough to comment with a brilliant idea.
3) Talking points are created. These are the ideas you will provide to journalists, bloggers, etc. It highlights what they need to sell your book to the public. In fact, I think this is something we've already done with the query, but they need it in a different form. These points might come from the jacket copy too.
4) A "big mouth" list is compiled. Who needs to read the galley? Have you met any authors who might give you a few lines of praise for your back cover? Is Oprah your long lost sister? You get the idea. This is where all the years of networking come into play. Get out there. Get to your local conferences and book associations. Don't just sit home and write. Ms. Morgan's general tips: Respond to everything, and be nice to everyone.
When the Advanced Reader Copy (aka ARC, or galley) goes out, this "big mouth" list is top of mind. Reviewers can get 400 copies per month, so you need yours to stand out. A personal connection is the best way. More and more e-galleys are being used instead, but these can get lost in the even larger digital pile. Slush all over again. Also, keep in mind that e-galleys don't get book store owners excited. (Per Sally Brewster, the book store owner on the panel.)
5) Six months ahead of the release date, the glossy magazines are contacted.
6) You might plan a blog tour sometime around your release date, since the traditional book tour is apparently "dead". Ms. Morgan's words, not mine, by the way. Sally Brewster suggests visiting stores for another reason. Her tip: Talk to the clerks, owners, etc. "Signed books are sold books", she says. She also won't take a book off the shelf, if she knows the author, and has a reason to hand-sell it. So love your independent book store owners.
7) In general, Ms. Morgan also recommends looking for opportunities in the press that are related to your topic. If you see something on CNN about mutant gadflies, and mutant gadflies are your thing, find a way to contact someone there. When you are the expert, they will listen.
8) If you and your publicist have done all that is humanly possible, and your most excellent book still gets pulped, don't blame the publicist. As Ms. Morgan says, "There's no accounting for taste".
Here's an excellent example of networking and publicity done well: I met author Monika Schroeder at the SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference, and as a direct result, she is the WNBA Charlotte guest speaker in April.
An Evening of Multi-cultural Books and Reading
Monday, April 9
6:30 – 8:30 PM
322 Hawthorne Lane, Charlotte, NC 28204
Our guest speaker is children’s book author, Monika Schroeder. She will be presenting her book Saraswati’s Way and concentrating on the issues of child labor and education, in India and the world. She is an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner.
International House promotes international understanding by serving as a center for diversity, advocating for people of diverse national backgrounds, and facilitating professional and cultural exchange programs. International House is affiliated with the US Department of State via the National Council of International Visitors.
Park Road Books will have a book table at the event so people can purchase Monika’s books, as well as a group of selected titles including WNBA National Reading Group Month selection Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson.