Whether you’re writing a blog or a book, chances are you’d like to see your name in lights, figuratively speaking. Getting publicity for your blog will increase unique visitors, thereby increasing your page views and possibly your back links. That means you’ll get more revenue from affiliate ads and content syndicates like Newstex. Getting publicity for your book means you’ll sell more copies and maybe get paid to speak. It sounds good on paper. Kay B. Day
But how do you make that happen?Based on my experience marketing a blog and books, I’ve learned the best place to begin is by sending a news release. My publisher also often issued a release for each event. He did that through a news release service. But when I do my own, I rely on an e-mail list I built slowly and carefully. I kept a record of editors I’d worked with, interviewed or met socially. It’s inevitable you’ll exchange business cards, either by hand or online. I use that list for national releases.
When you put out an announcement to the press, be sure to include your name, snail address, phone number, e-mail and the date. If you include a photo or graphic, be sure to include a caption.If you decide to use a news release service, fish around on the Web site for deals. Prices vary widely. Just be sure the service is sending the release out to reputable publishers. Most established services will have the list posted on their Web site.
It’s really important to tailor any release around a newsworthy topic rather than a straight up author-writes-book slant. Here’s a blanket statement—any book you write, or any blog, can be hooked to a news topic somewhere. You pick the category you’re writing in and do a news search. Pick a topic and hook your release to that topic. If all else fails, hook your book to the economy. “Cash-strapped author hits the trail in a down economy,” for instance, could apply to just about any new author. Another handy way to get buzz going is a fairly easy thing to do. Don’t be overbearing, but when others ask about your book, frame your response in language that’s easy for the person to remember. I can’t tell you how many people have bought my book or come to my blog after we talked at a social gathering. People are just naturally curious.
If you’re a first time author or blogger, try to update your Web site frequently. I admit I’ve fallen by the wayside on maintaining my author site, but that’s because I’ve done this a long time and pick up most work from existing clients or word of mouth. By including timely information on your site—announcing an event like a book signing or an event you’re covering live from your blog, you keep your content fresh. It’s also useful to offer your services as a speaker. I’ve had my biggest book signings at events where I’ve given a talk. Include a blurb on your Web site and note a place or two where you’ve spoken. Watch the newspaper and Web sites for announcements of programs and speakers. Select the organizations that are right for you and send them a letter of intro. I book a number of speaking engagements by doing that especially when I plan book tours.
Appreciate also the value of social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. While it’s not a good idea to hover on these sites, it is both fun and useful to post punchy one-line summaries about what you’ve written. Equally helpful and entertaining—commenting on books or blogs by others in your field.It’s useful to draw attention to yourself, but do it carefully. No one wants to read about you unless you’ve really done something. And be sure to tailor your announcement to the right publications, those with readers interested in what you’re selling. First rule of thumb for learning about a publication or Web site—study the ads. That will give you an informal idea about the publisher’s readers, about the kind of content those readers will be interested in.
As a Web site editor I get press releases and promo kits every day. People send me books I don’t ask for. Some have sent me products I did not ask for. Out of those thousands, I’ve probably done stories on fewer than 100 pitches. Many of the announcements had nothing to do with the subject areas I write about. Others were blatant attempts at garnering free advertising. Still others were simply dull.But those I wrote about had creative or new information I could share with my readers. Finding a good story is a blessing to me, the writer. If you think in terms of providing a service to the publisher—saving her time and making her job easier—you’ll be off to a good start getting your name in lights.