Pebbles in the Publicity Pond: How to Create a Ripple Effect for Your Book

Whenever I begin working with an author, I present them with a few questions so I can define goals for their book. Without fail their expectations are always over the top! They want to be on ‘Oprah’ and/or the NY Times bestsellers list the first week after publication.  Or worse – they don’t think they need to market their book and ask “Why do I need a publicist?”

Let me count the ways while tethering your expectations to reality:

Whether you are doing your own book publicity or have hired someone to do it for you, it is important to know that it isn’t any ONE thing that will get you publicity, but rather it’s a collection of consistent tasks repeated over and over that will get you traction. It’s like throwing a pebble into a pond…

Begin locally and build slowly. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, you build slowly with local media and build outward to regional and national coverage. The circle of influence – the ripple – will grow wider as you leverage each media hit to your advantage. The media in your hometown loves a local angle. If you can hook your book into a national event, even better. Your local paper will love you.  (ex: National Receptionist Day ; the title of your book is ‘The Receptionist.’) When dealing with the media remember that it isn’t about you! Think like a journalist. Ask yourself what newsworthy story you can offer them. Think objectively and you will gain greater access and coverage than you could ever imagine.

Relationships count. Journalists know other journalists and can offer suggestions for story placement – the ripple effect begins.  Media folks move around and are promoted. I once pitched a story to a producer of small town radio station in Vermont. We stayed in contact for other stories and when he was promoted to CBS national news, he let me know.  This is how local publicity gets national coverage.

Think of your book as your ‘baby.’  When you are expecting – don’t you tell EVERYONE you know and meet in the grocery checkout line?  You are excited and proud. Treat your book the same way. Begin the marketing process BEFORE it is published. Create buzz. You have a story. You need to believe in it and see the value of it.  Then, after it is published (born) tell everyone you know what it looks like, what it sounds like, take pictures of your friends holding your baby (book) and pointing at your baby. Have a launch party and invite the local media. Post cool quotes on Facebook from people who’ve read it. Think outside the box! You want your baby to stand out.

Creativity Counts. When it comes to publicity and promotion you’d be surprised how important creativity is to building the ripple effect. The importance of creativity when you are ‘pitching’ can’t be overstated. Look at your world through a different lens. Look around you and see everything as a publicity opportunity! You’ll be amazed at the possibilities once you start thinking differently. Ideas will be everywhere. I worked with an author who wrote a book about the French & Indian War.  I asked myself how I could make this topic interesting to a broad audience. It was a presidential election year so I asked the author what lessons in leadership everyone could take away from his book. I then pitched this angle to regional media where the war took place. “What lessons in leadership this year’s presidential candidates can learn from ‘The French & Indian War.’”  The local tie-in for a national topic made it work.

Publicity for your book is a process and an ongoing effort. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, be sure and do it! The days of JD Salinger and Harper Lee are over.  If you want your book to be found you must create a splash. It begins with a ripple in the publicity pond. Go ahead…..dive in!