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Notes from the Book at the Greenleaf Author Summit

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Marika FlattBy Marika Flatt —

I was a panel speaker at the Greenleaf Author Summit™, held by our friends at Greenleaf Book Group in Austin. The summit is a unique environment for authors and experts where they can learn from, interact with, and connect with like-minded individuals who will help them advance their book projects or platform-building initiatives.

I was on a panel discussing “Book Publicity in the Current Publishing Landscape”—a topic of concern for all authors. Those of us who work in book publicity know that it’s a (maybe the most) critical part of launching a book and building an author’s visibility. We’ve seen the landscape of both publishing and book PR change dramatically over the last decade or so (especially with the rise of social media—Twitter has only been around since 2007!). There’s so much “clutter” to compete with now in getting your message out—that’s where a PR firm comes in.

Here are some important items shared during the summit:

Why does an author need a publicist?

Because The Today Show producers aren’t just going to call you! Since all of a publicist’s work is behind the scenes, many authors don’t know what they actually do. Know that there is a publicist behind every author/celebrity/politician/expert’s media appearance—from an interview with NPR to someone’s picture in the local paper. Even cities that land on a “Top 10 Places to Travel This Year” list are a result of a publicist’s work.

What can an author expect to see from their investment in publicity?

There should be tangible deliverables that every client can expect to receive from a PR firm, like professionally-written press materials. Beyond that, the scope of the campaign should be tailored for each client. But before that, a PR firm should give you an honest opinion on the publicity potential for your book. When looking at their client list, feel free to ask for case studies, writing samples, and what media they’ve booked for projects similar to yours.

What should an author look for in a publicist?

Communication is a publicist’s world. Your publicist should be responsive, easy to reach, and not afraid to deliver the bad news, as well as the good. At PR by the Book, we reply to each and every email within 24 hours, and all of our publicists can be reached via Twitter.

What kind of content makes for good publicity opportunities?

While we’ve moved away from the doing the traditional author tour, to focus on media hits that will “live on” online, local events do create opportunities for media coverage. While one event may not sell a lot of books, think of it as the bait to catch the bigger fish.

What gets the media excited?

Obviously an intriguing story, but beyond that: ready-to-use content that saves them time! You should work to craft timely op-ed pieces in response to current events — well-written, ready-to-plug-in pieces will make you a media darling.

Pitching via social media – is it a do or a don’t?

For us, it’s a definite do. Our publicists have had great success reaching mainstream media through tweets. For example, last week one of our publicists tweeted out a short bio of one of our authors and we received several inquiries in just a couple of hours. We’re able to stay on top of real-time current events and push out our authors’ expertise through Twitter and intercept journalists by using relevant hashtags and sending tweets.

Join us in the conversation!
You can follow me at @marikaflatt and @prbythebook.

Marika FlattAbout the Author: Marika launched PR by the Book, LLC in 2002, combining her love of the media, public relations and books. Prior to that, Marika spent seven years leading the publicity team of an Austin-based book publicity firm. She received a Gold Bulldog Award for a publicity campaign that resulted in exposure in over 700 media outlets. Marika is a past-president of Women Communicators of Austin, serves as an Expert for IBPA, is listed on Twitter’s Women in Publishing (#womeninpublishing) and serves on the selection committee for the Texas Book Festival. As a hobby, Marika has been a freelance travel writer for over a decade and serves as the Travel Editor for Austin Lifestyle magazine.

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