How Authors Can Harness the Power of Public Relations for Their Books
This post is written by guest writer Lilian Sue.
In the world of author and book marketing, public relations is often the forgotten third sibling behind both email marketing and social media.
Public relations (PR) is often overlooked because authors don’t see other writers using it to build brand awareness on a daily basis. But overlooking PR is a mistake because authors are missing out on a prime opportunity to increase international brand recognition of themselves as authors, and, ultimately, to sell more books.
What is PR and Why Is it So Powerful?
PR is “strategic communications from a brand or organization to the public to cultivate or maintain a public image or respond to public discourse,” as defined by HubSpot. But how does one build and cultivate that image? By developing relationships with media outlets all over the world. While that might sound intimidating, as an author you need to be developing those relationships! Why? Because PR is the best marketing method for authors to reach audiences on an international scale.
Let’s look at the power of PR together. Whether the media outlet is a genre-specific podcast or a website, these outlets have cultivated their reputations and built trust among their own audiences. When the outlet chooses to support you and your books, the trust their audience has in them is transferred, in part, to you. If a platform they follow and trust has decided to support you, then by extension they believe you and your books are also worth supporting.
This is powerful third-party credibility because the media outlet has no prior connection to you but, because they trust you, their audiences trust you and want to support your books as well.
In this article I will share the three key steps you should take to make PR work for you as an author:
- Building a strong mindset that will help you position your story the right way.
- Developing a robust strategy to reach the right people.
- Building relationships with media and industry connections to help you achieve your goals.
Step #1: Building a Strong Mindset
Developing a healthy mindset is step #1 in the framework of building and launching a successful PR campaign.
Why does mindset matter? Because it is the attitude and beliefs you have about yourself as an author and about your books that directly influence your subconscious thoughts, your actions, and your decision-making.
Allowing fear and self-doubt to control your actions can lead you to believe in myths, such as that PR is only for authors with audiences in the thousands, or that you need to spend thousands of dollars to see success. Buying into these myths drives a toxic negative mindset.
But how do you change that negative mindset when it’s ingrained? You can start by reminding yourself of these four core principles:
- Every author can build a PR strategy. Success depends on how you position your books and your author’s journey to reach out to the right people.
- If you have no prior PR experience, pitching genre-specific media is a great way to get in front of readers and get comfortable doing interviews with smaller media outlets.
- You build a strategy by taking it one step at a time, one building block at a time. You do not have to build the entire strategy in a day.
- If you don’t generate results the first time out, you always have time to try reaching out to other people.
Now that you understand why mindset is crucial to PR success, let's move on to positioning.
Step #2: Define Solid Positioning
After getting yourself in a good mindset around PR, defining a solid positioning is the next step in the process. How you position your author’s journey and your books will form the foundation of the story pitches you'll share with the media and clarify your ultimate goals for the campaign.
It's not enough to say you're a romance or sci-fi author when there are thousands of other writers in your genre.
What makes you unique is how you do what you do and why you do it.
Developing a solid position for your book and your author's journey requires you to get introspective about the stories behind your book and author's journey.
Here are a few questions to get your brainstorming started:
- What inspired you to become a writer?
- Why did you decide to write this particular book?
- What are some of the themes in your book? Why is it important to you to share these themes?
When you've answered these questions to build the first part of your positioning strategy, it's time to brainstorm what your goals are.
- What are your 3-month, 6-month, and annual goals? How many books do you want to sell for each one of these benchmarks?
- How do you want to grow the distribution of your books, both online and in-store?
- How do you want to incorporate book signings, live Q&As, and talks about your books?
After brainstorming your goals, it’s time to think about building your strategy.
Step #3: Develop Your Strategy
After you’ve tackled your mindset, developed a strong position, and brainstormed your goals, it’s time for you to start developing your PR strategy. You can also think of strategy as the blueprint for how you want your campaign to proceed.
The strategy you develop is directly related to the goals you want to achieve. Prioritizing which goal you want to tackle first makes developing your PR campaign easier.
Is increasing sales and building brand awareness for your books priority #1? Then an earned media relations strategy to obtain press coverage should be your focus. Are you looking to build your reputation as a knowledgeable author and industry leader? Then developing a thought leadership strategy for you to share your knowledge on industry blogs, newsletters, and websites should be the priority.
Regardless of what goal you start with, the initial framework to build a PR strategy is as follows:
- define your positioning,
- build your media kit (with your bio, high resolution photos and book synopsis),
- develop the media contact list of the people you want to reach, and
- pitch the contacts on the list for interviews, reviews, and other media opportunities.
Your media kit is an integral part of your strategy because it is the complete promotional package that will fill in the blanks about you and your books teased by your pitch. It’s where the media will access your visual assets, your book trailers, and more.
Building your media contact list is next. Developing a media contact list is crucial to your PR campaign because you want to make sure you’re reaching the right people and that you have enough contacts on the list so you don’t have to research who to contact every single day. As I mentioned before, building your media list by starting with genre-specific media is your best shot at reaching readers where they spend their time.
Start the media contact research by searching hashtags (i.e., #romancebookreview) on Instagram and Twitter. You’d be surprised by how many genre-specific podcasts, blogs, and reviewers there are out there that might be a part of your larger social media network.
From there, you can continue the search for genre specific media by typing in your favorite author + your genre into Google to see what publications, podcasts, and reviewers feature authors and support your genre. If you take your time and start slow, media contact research can be a smooth process to find the right people to promote your book.
Building a successful PR campaign as an author is about giving yourself time and having the patience to brainstorm, do the research, and write the pitches that will help your books land in front of the right audiences. A good campaign can help you raise brand awareness, increase sales, and build a reputation as a global industry leader, building relationships with international media and readers alike.
As you build and launch your first campaign for your books, always remind yourself of these three key things: have confidence in your positioning, take it one step and one building block at a time, and give yourself space when it comes to trying new outreach methods.
Lilian is a long-time PR coach and publicist who focuses on helping authors fulfill their full potential to become global industry leaders by focusing on how to build a healthy PR mindset above any strategy. It’s something that she’s passionate about because she’s seen the positive impacts of what she’s been able to do, thanks to mindset work and coaching. She’s given workshop presentations and developed journals and other resources to help authors bust down mindset blocks, gain clarity on their thoughts, feelings, & the myths they believe about PR while providing them with the right tools, resources, and knowledge to learn how to build their own successful PR campaigns. You can reach her through her website or via social media.
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