Maryglenn McCombs, book publicist, spoke at the recent Florida Chapter of MWA meeting. These are my notes from her speech.
“Publishers are looking for authors who have platforms.” How do you get one?
- Join professional writers’ groups and get involved. Besides the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Maryglenn mentioned Crime Writers Association of North America, Independent Book Publishers Association, and StoryCircle.org.
- Attend conferences and get connected with other people in the industry.
- Ask your writer friends for endorsements. Make sure they are recognizable names in your genre.
- Write a good book.
- Have a professional product so that you’re taken seriously.
- Also: Write a blog; comment on other authors’ posts; become active on Facebook and Twitter; share news and interesting articles.
Maryglenn mentioned that an off-press date is when the printing is finished, but it’s different from the release or pub date when the book is available for sale. If you can do it, time your pub date with an event or holiday. For a historical, you can set the release date around an event or a particular date in history.
Aim for review coverage at or after the book is available for purchase. Reviews any earlier are not helpful. The exception is trade media that serve bookstores and libraries.
Readers read. Radio people listen. TV viewers watch. So how do you reach the readers?
“Book promo is a marathon, not a sprint.” Three to six months ahead of your pub date, send info to syndicated reviewers, consumer print media, trade media, and larger online outlets such as:
The Freelance Star
The Bismarck Tribune
Stop You’re Killing Me
Promote your book for up to one year after its release. Target local media, alumni groups, newspapers where you grew up, niche markets relating to topics in your book, other groups where you’re a member, media in the town where your book takes place.
Share your news if you win an award, your book goes into a second printing, or you sell more rights.
Have available advance reading copies in print and digital formats; a jpg of your cover in 96 dpi and 300 dpi; a professional headshot; a website with your contact info; a one-page press release or media sheet with your book’s data; a 175 word or less story blurb; web links, and an author bio. “Brevity is the soul of wit” for press releases and pitches. Also prepare your elevator pitch.
To find reviewers, look for similar titles and Google them for reviews and media coverage. When contacting reviewers or press people, cast a wide net. Do your research ahead of time and address the proper person by name. Be polite, but also be persistent. Follow the submission rules on blogs and review outlets. Be accommodating to their requests. Do not ask a reviewer to send you a copy of the review. It shows you’re not reading her posts. Follow their sites and leave comments to maintain a relationship. Send a follow-up thank you for a review and ask the reviewer’s permission to use quotes from it. What counts is how you react after media coverage. Always say thank you, even for a bad review. i.e. “It’s feedback like this that will make me a better writer.”
Steady Media Coverage
Personal Contact with Booksellers
Winning Awards or Being Nominated
Your book put on “Best of…” Lists or Gift Guides
What Doesn’t Work
Lengthy Book Tours
Swag and Gimmicks
Asking Readers for Amazon Reviews
“Buy my Book” Social Media Tactics. Share your real news, research tidbits, history of a region, writing tips. Work on social media for up to thirty minutes twice a day. Be engaging and play nice.
Seek “evangelists” or fans who will tell everyone about your book. But don’t let them manipulate posts online as that’s unethical. You want people who will tell their friends and book clubs about your work, hand out your bookmarks, and recommend your titles.
Disclaimer: These statements are my interpretation and any errors are my own.
Here I am with Kathryn DePalo and Kat Karlton aka Karen Kendall.