Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The expanding world of the author, part 3

I’m blessed with a son who has a diploma in public relations, not that he’s in the biz. I suppose that says more about that industry than his desire for employment since he’s never wanted to make use of it — except to help out his dear old dad. Today, in the last part of this little series, I’m going to share his expertise with you.

First and foremost: in this age of “the author as self-promoter”, one needs to have a good PR kit. This is one area where your publisher might actually help you out, but there are some tricks they may not know, or you may want to tailor your PR to a specific target market.

Here are the nuts and bolts of your PR kit:

a press release: This can be sent to any and all news outlets (these days, they’re usually emailed or possibly faxed). My son suggests also sending them out whenever anyone requests information, you’re getting a booking for a public appearance of any kind. The folks booking you should get it and be encouraged to share it with local media. They’ll often have better luck getting coverage than you will, but I’d also try directly in case your hosts “don’t get around to it”. Marketing departments of publishers large and small regularly do these. Get your hands on one — and use it! Formatting for these is pretty strict. There are numerous articles on the internet to guide you. Follow them.

a backgrounder: This is actually a newspaper article you write about yourself. You can talk about your history (as it pertains to this book), a bit about how you became a writer. Include interesting tidbits about the book, anecdotes about the writers’ life, road stories, your thoughts about the theme of the book. Keep it light (if that’s suitable for the book’s content), informative. Think about similar print articles you’ve seen about other authors and model yours after those. Hand these out as above. Quite often, newspapers will crib large portions of your backgrounder, occasionally the entire thing, but that’s what you want. You’re making their job easy and you’re controlling the information. That’s a pretty good deal in my book. You’ll have a much better chance to get coverage if you do the slug work for them. I have occasionally used an interview format and got good results.

an author bio: This will be information about you the person and author and is the place where you can talk about your previous books, awards and nominations and introduce yourself as a person as well as an author. It’s a good idea to put a box at the bottom that gives some information about the book you’re promoting. Include a good high-resolution (300 dpi) headshot of you and make your PDF high-resolution so the media can just pull the headshot off and use it for print purposes.

Always have contact information on any and all promo pieces.

Lastly, make sure your package is designed in a professional manner. It might be an advantage to hire a graphic pro to do it. If you provide all the “pieces” (copy, photos, etc), it shouldn't be too expensive. In this day of the Internet and email, it’s best to send out your promo material as PDFs. That way, you can also use colour while you’ll save a ton on printing and mailing costs. It gets there quicker, too.

Good luck and happy promoting!

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