3 S.R. Johannes: My thoughts on book publicity!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My thoughts on book publicity!

Since it is Spring Break around the country, the normal Monday marketing interviews will start up again on Monday, April 12th.

I thought I would answer some of the questions I have gotten offline about book marketing and publicity. A few have asked about me and my "day job" of running my own marketing and publicity business.

What exactly do you do?

Besides write....I own my own marketing and publicity business (bilaninc.com) where I help companies market their business. I also help small businesses develop marketing materials and publicity campaigns.

Do you help authors with their marketing?

Yes. I've done just about every job in marketing, from planning to execution--author school visits, booking conferences, swag and promo pieces, curriculum/learner guides, bookstore tours, online marketing and book publicity campaigns.

Because I love to read and write children's books, my favorite is working with children's authors in their marketing or book publicity needs. So much so, that I give 30% off my standard prices to SCBWI members and 20% off to other authors. I can do any of the following:
  • Designing and creating swag packages, such as bookmarkers, postcards, posters, bookplates, stickers
  • Planning and executing online publicity campaigns, including blog tours
  • Creating a marketing strategy/plan for authors/book releases
  • Identifying niche outlets for publicity and marketing
  • Creating supplemental materials, such as discussion guides, curriculum guides, and event kits
  • Coordinating book release parties, bookstore signings, and tours
  • Writing press releases and pitch letters, bios and background materials
  • Customized backgrounds for twitter, blogs, and web sites
  • Manuscript and query critiques
If you need any help on deciding if you need help with marketing or book publicity, you can email me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com to schedule a free 30 minute consultation!

What should authors look for when hiring marketing or publicity professionals?

There are so many people doing marketing these days especially with the amount of layoffs.
  • Know what you want and what you are getting.
  • Always ask for references and samples of their work.
  • Get written quotes and compare.
  • Be sure to read the fine print.
  • Do your research.
  • The publicity potential of your book.
  • Good communication.
  • Reasonable prices.
What things are best done by a publicist? By an author?

This really depends on the person. There are some people who want to hire a book publicist to handle everything because they can't be bothered. There are others who only want certain things done.

If you want a publicist - prioritize your needs and your budget. Use a publicist for things you can't do yourself. For example, I find most authors need:
  • Professional consulting to get ideas on how to best market your book
  • Someone to get them started by creating a marketing and book publicity plan
  • Custom designed materials such as web sites, business cards, online templates and swag packages
  • Creating formal and professional media kits
  • Organizing book tours/speaking appearances
Does every author need a publicist?

It all depends on how good you are at marketing yourself. I usually like to see what a publisher is doing for an author FIRST before I take on a project. Sometimes it may not be the best expense if the publisher is already doing a lot for the author.

How can an author prepare to work with a publicist?

First, you need to know exactly your goal? What do you need the most help with? How much to you want to spend? What can you do on your own?

Once you know your goals, know what your publisher is going to do and then really evaluate whether you need outside help.

If you do, it is critical for your publicist to work with the house's publicity department to ensure a seamless plan.

Is book publicity expensive?

Like anything, book publicity can get expensive.

However, every author should know their strengths and what they may need help with. It does not all have to be done at once and authors should ask about smaller projects that they can afford.

It does not have to be all or none!

What is one piece of advice that you want people to take away?

Start now! It is better to start your marketing and publicity campaign at least 6 months PRIOR to your publication date. I can do more for you if you are early. If you come to me 6 months after your book has released, you have lost critical time.

Hope that helps you guys understand book publicity more.

What other questions do you have?


Kerri Cuev said...

Shelli those are great services you offer! Thanks for the great info!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. This is one of your best posts ever. Thank you, Shelli - you rock! :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome advice! I've bookmarked this one - even though I'm still in the revising stage :)

Ash. Elizabeth said...

i love every interview you post on here. even though i'm nowhere near worrying about publicity, it's good to be little more informed. to get a better idea.

Heidi Willis said...

Great advice and information! I can't imagine trying to do this for someone else! What a great skill to have!

Danyelle L. said...

Great post! Thank you so much for sharing all these tips!

Anonymous said...

Shelli, that was a gold mine of a post!! Thank you! And what a generous offer, both the discounts to SCBWI members and the free phone consultation to access what kind of help a particular author might need. Thanks!

Bish Denham said...

Thanks Shelli! What a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Lots of helpful information in here. Thank you!

Patti said...

You always have such great posts. Thanks for all the info.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Shelli, I don't know how you have time to do all you do! Very impressive.

C.R. Evers said...

U R awesome girl! Great post.

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Hm, interesting advice. Marketing alwasy overwhelms me, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it!

Anonymous said...

I always like your personal posts the best. Thanks for the info.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Shelli--Thanks for sharing what you do in such a great way. It was really an informative post.

Ashley Howland said...

Thanks for sharing, I am marketing my first children;s novel - Ghostnapped and finding it very time consuming for little reward. So you thoughts are very helpful

Gail said...

You are so talented and full of awesomeness! Great post, great advice. I'm saving up my money to hire you, girl!

Robert W. Leonard said...

Intriguing post, with some fantastic ideas to boot. It's got the wheels spinning in my head. :)