Written by Helen McCusker
I often share advice with authors on the best methods of book promotion, but it's also important to learn from the mistakes other authors have made – and continue to make. Do your best to avoid making them during your campaign!
Even though the majority of book publicity falls towards the end of your self-publishing journey, it's arguably the most important and longest-running part of the process. So, you don't want to commit one, let alone all, of these seven sins of PR.
Recognising your PR sins and either stopping them before they happen, or ensuring that they don't happen again, is crucial...
PR SIN #1. LUST
It's important that you believe in yourself and your book to make the campaign work, and building your author profile is essential.
However, there is a fine line between being proud and being egotistical. Authors can sometimes become so wrapped up in getting 'famous' that they forget the purpose of their campaign – to promote their book and instigate sales.
Enjoy the experience and make the most of it, but always stay focused and keep your priority at the forefront of your campaign – your book.
PR SIN #2. GLUTTONY
Wanting the best is a natural human desire. However, overlooking media opportunities on the basis that they aren't 'big enough' is foolish. Authors must avoid viewing smaller, more local opportunities as insignificant and unsatisfying.
I've had authors decline a local radio interview or refuse to write a column for a regional newspaper because they don't believe the audience will be big enough for them and their book.
You must be careful not to let your ego get in the way of a productive campaign. Every opportunity is worth having and so many times I've witnessed local opportunities being spotted by national journalists who then go on to feature the author and book in their own publication.
Don't overlook the smaller pieces of the PR puzzle – they will all link together to form a comprehensive book publicity campaign. Say 'yes' to as much as you can.
PR SIN #3. GREED
Publicity is addictive and the more you receive, the more you want. As your campaign gains momentum, you could be spending hours each week writing articles or being interviewed.
However, the amount of media coverage will probably start to dip after launch and as an author you must learn how to control your PR addiction. You may make the mistake of hiring an expensive agent or additional publicist just to fuel your desire for exposure.
This could eventually bankrupt your campaign, so carefully assess your results regularly and plan your next course of action wisely.
PR SIN #4. SLOTH
I always tell my authors that the more proactive they are, the better the results will be. Don't make the mistake of publishing your book, sitting back and waiting for the interviews to come to you; it's highly unlikely to work that way, as publicity doesn't just happen all on its own. You need to make it happen!
Get out there – be seen, be heard. Do book signings, interviews and speaking events at literary festivals – you need to invest your time and your energy if you want to make your campaign a success. Don't be a lazy author!
PR SIN #5. WRATH
Being an author involves opening yourself up for scrutiny. Assuming everyone will react positively to you and your book is unrealistic. How you control your frustration and anger towards a negative book review is important. I've had authors who refuse to have a bad word said about their writing and have proceeded to publicly attack the reviewer's criticism.
This is not the way to conduct yourself as an author and could harm your reputation and prevent further books of yours being reviewed by that particular journalist or publication.
If you or your book become the target for a hostile broadcast interview, take advantage of the opportunity. I actually encourage my authors to be controversial as it gets people talking and curious readers ultimately buy books.
Turn fired-up energy into something more positive and keep your cool at all times.
PR SIN #6. ENVY
I usually can spot an envious first-time author within seconds; those who compare their work to an A list author but insist that "it's even better"! This may be true, but success doesn't happen overnight.
Envious authors want to see their book reviewed in every national newspaper and secure a primetime television interview to boot.
I'm always honest and realistic when working with authors, explaining that securing a spot on The Richard and Judy Book Club would be very rare!
There are hundreds of thousands of books published each and every year, meaning the competition for column inches and airtime is fierce. As a first-time author, work your way up to those prestigious spots and avoid comparing yourself to other writers along the way.
You are unique and so is your book, so create a unique campaign that's right for you.
PR SIN #7. PRIDE
When you publish a book you put yourself out there and you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad. Not everyone will 'get' your style of writing so you may run into a negative book review – which can be devastating for a first-time author.
After all, this book is your baby and you've spent hours – perhaps years – writing it and bringing it to print. You need to develop a thick skin, bury your ego and not let a bad experience dent your pride.
Don't allow negative coverage or a bad media interview knock your determination; take on board the feedback and move on. Remember: all publicity is good publicity.
- This article was written by Helen McCusker for The Self Publishing Magazine.