Questions & John's Answers:
Getting Publicity for Your Books

The following are a few of the questions John Kremer has answered during the past four years of writing the free Book Marketing Tip of the Week ezine. These answers focus on getting publicity.


Question: Reviews vs. Advertising

Which of the two ways to market shown below are more effective: Book Advertising or Book Reviews?

John's Answer: Book reviews are more cost-effective.

Advertising in the right place might sell more books, but few authors or publishers know how to advertise effectively, so I don't recommend it.

There are a few places where it might make sense; for example, advertising in New Age Retailer for a new age or holistic health title. And certainly there are some specialty book publishers who have advertised successfully for years in specialized magazines and continue to do so because it pays.

But, personally, I'd always put my money and time into publicity first. Not necessarily trying for book reviews, but going for interviews, expert opinions, articles, excerpts, and sidebars. These have often produce more sales than book reviews do.

As I write this, of course, I've just thought of one advertising venue that I really, really love. That is direct mail advertising. Done well, crunching all the numbers, conducting valid tests, and writing great copy, there's nothing that beats direct mail. Done well, it is so predictable that it's almost like printing money. The best Internet marketing follows the key principles of direct marketing, although I have found that few Internet marketers really know how to crunch numbers. And to do direct marketing well, you need to know how to crunch numbers and test results.


RadioPRGuy.com — “When you decide that you're ready to start dealing with radio stations directly, get Alex Carroll's program. His top radio show database, tapes of dealing with producers, and examples of actual talk shows will help you to become a radio talk show star.” — John Kremer

TVPRGuys.com — Want to get on top national TV talk shows like Oprah, Good Morning America, Today and Larry King? Bradley Communications offers a database/directory of the top 241 national TV & cable shows that interview authors and other guests. You not only get contact names, addresses and emails but also detailed profiles on each show including what types of guests they want and the best ways to approach them.


Question: Press Releases

The press release for my book on Christian Olympics was blasted through the internet a week before the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games. The publicist tells me that there were many downloads of the press release from the media. I am surprised that there was no response from the media though. Do you have any idea why? And what should be done now?

John's Answer: There could be many answers.

1) The publicist's idea of “many” is much smaller than your or my idea.

2) The media read the news release and decided that it wasn't relevant.

3) They glanced at the press release but never really downloaded it.

4) The press release was poorly written.

5) The press release really didn't match the media interest at the time. Just because you think there should be a strong link between the winter Olympics and Christian Olympics, the media might not see such a link.

How do you solve these problems? Write a news release that really addresses an issue. Write it well. Then send it out. And follow up with a phone call. You have to help media pay attention. They are so busy that they miss many good stories. You shouldn't let that happen with your book.


Question: Following Up on Reviewers

Once a reviewer requests a book from author, what is the protocol after the book is sent... six weeks... eight weeks... to follow up if the review was done? Or is this a no-no? Also, is it all right once a reviewer requests your baby (and as you know some people claim to be reviewers just to get a free book) -- can one request to talk to them on the phone or email them to check out their credentials?

John's Answer: It is acceptable to call a reviewer within about two to three weeks to ask if they will review the book, but do not ask if the review is done. The review won't appear for many weeks later depending on the media.

If you have any question about the legitimacy of a reviewer, don't send a review copy until you've verified his or her legitimacy. Check out their web site — they should have one. If you can't locate the media they review for on the web, chances are that they don't have a large audience.

Be aware that there are many legitimate reviewers who are bloggers, ezine writers or editors, or web site owners. But these reviewers should be able to show you their reviews, which should all be online for you to check out.

I believe in sending review copies to anyone who asks and who has a legitimate audience. But, at the same time, I am well aware that there are many illegitimate review requesters who are simply looking for books to sell via eBay or Amazon.com. So, be careful.


Question: Literary Months...

Would you know where there's a listing for literary months. Like you mentioned, it was National Publish Your E-Book Month and I can't find a press release or more info about it. So I can be ready for the next one, can you direct me to a calendar of some type or website that would know off handed information like that?

John's Answer: The major literary days of the year plus 18,000 other special days are all available in my Celebrate Today Special Events database.

Also, some are listed at: http://www.bookmarket.com/bkdays.htm.


Question: Advertising Sources

My first book, Equally Capable Equally Smart: A Candid Look at Race, Gender and Intelligence in our Society, will be published Jan. 05. What are some good sources for advertisement for such work?” — Ralford Jones

John's Answer: I'm not sure I'd advertise your book. I'm more likely to do publicity for the book in political journals such as The Nation, The American Prospect, Clamor, CounterPunch, Dissent, First Things, The Hightower Lowdown, In These Times, Mother Jones, The New Republic, Yes!, American Spectator, etc. as well as major magazines such as Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, etc. Also educational journals, association journals, etc. And black issues publications such as African American Review, Black Issues Book Review, BlackBoard Bi-Weekly, Ebony, Essense, QBR, Relevant, and Transitions.

Also, of course, news talk shows, both radio and TV.

Of course, I could go into much more detail, which is what I do in consulting with authors and publishers.


Question: Hiring a Publicist

“I am a first time novelist with a mystery coming out in May 2005. It is a small press, a small advance, and a small print run of 700 books. Do you feel that warrants trying to find someone to do publicity with the substantial cost involved?” — Robert Boris Riskin

John's Answer

No, you need to do your own publicity. It simply would not pay for you to hire a publicist. You don't have enough potential income to cover the cost.

With that small a print run, I'd start by trying to make a big local splash with book signings in as many local bookstores as possible over a month or two, along with concurrent local newspaper articles and radio/TV interviews. That you can set up on your own without the help of a publicist.

If you can't or don't like to talk on the phone to set up interviews, ask a friend or family member to help you. Pay them a small amount of money if necessary, or take them out to dinner for their help.


Question: Media Kits

“If you put together a complete package (cover letter, bound galley, brochure, press release, reply card), why would they need to call the publicist anyway? Just wondering...”

John's Answer

Five reasons I can think of just off the top of my head. Here are some of the reasons they might call you:

1. To interview the author.
2. To get more information for a feature story.
3. To verify information and details about the book or release.
4. To book an author appearance on a radio or TV show.
5. To ask for reprint rights or permission.

Some media also call to verify the availability of a title and to make sure the publisher will have enough copies on hand to handle the demand that their publicity will cause. Bottomline Personal, for example, does this because response to their listings can be large (10,000 or more sometimes).

Reader Feedback

“Your reader is asking the wrong question! Here's a tip from a book publicist with over 25 years of experience (that would be me). Simply because you mail or ship a complete press kit to an editor doesn't mean zip, most likely (unless you are one of the Clintons, for example). Someone has to call and a) bring the package to the editor's attention, as it's sitting among several dozen if not two hundred other packages and b) a process of collaboration needs to begin. As I always tell my authors, we are here to serve the media, not the other way around. A good publicist is always trying to bring (hopefully high quality) information to the attention to the media, because that's what the media needs. Competition for that attention is fierce. A passive package is not sufficient. It's just the entree.” — Kathryn Hall, publicist


Million Dollar Author Club — This is the latest reincarnation of the Book Marketing Update newsletter from Steve Harrison. Always a great resource for stories on how to get publicity in key media as well as listings of key media: who to contact, how to contact, what they want to see, etc. Really fresh hot leads. For $1.00 you can get a trial issue plus a free audio copy of an interview with bestselling author Tim Ferriss. Cost: $47 per month.

RadioPRGuy.com — “When you decide that you're ready to start dealing with radio stations directly, get Alex Carroll's program. His top radio show database, tapes of dealing with producers, and examples of actual talk shows will help you to become a radio talk show star.” — John Kremer

TVPRGuys.com — Want to get on top national TV talk shows like Oprah, Good Morning America, Today and Larry King? Bradley Communications offers a database/directory of the top 241 national TV & cable shows that interview authors and other guests. You not only get contact names, addresses and emails but also detailed profiles on each show including what types of guests they want and the best ways to approach them.


Copyright © 2011 by John Kremer
Email: JohnKremer@bookmarket.com

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