Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Publicity Tips: Merging Traditional PR With Twitter

Getting books in front of readers’ eyes  is the greatest challenge, no matter where you are in the chain – independent author, small publisher, big publisher.  The only difference being of course that if you’re an established publisher you employ/contract professionals to get the word out for you. Having collaborated with a PR professional to set up Blackbird Digital, I know what a highly skilled, time-consuming and, sometimes, thankless task it can be. And stressful – the client pays good money for results and expects results.
It’s an ongoing learning curve for me as I work to promote the Blackbird authors. A lot has been written recently about getting Amazon visibility: placing books in the best (smaller) relevant categories and switching them to larger categories at the right time; tweeking titles & covers; changing the prices up and down at the right time; choosing the best 7 keywords via the GoogleAds tool and also sneaking them into the description panel; paying for promotion tools like BookBub that more often than not produce results etc; there is so much that can make all the difference between your book being found by readers and never seeing the light of day. But what about the more traditional methods?
This week media communications experts and field-leaders DW Pub hosted an evening at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix for PRs to engage with a panel of 3 high profile editors – Genevieve Mullen of Real People magazine; Mango Saul of and Stuart Flatt of Average Joe’s. I got to go because I recently put a press release out with DW Pub.  OK so this is what I learnt:
Editors’ preferred method of communication: Twitter and email:
* If the subject email text isn’t eye-catching enough, your email may well be passed by. If you’re responding to a DWPub ResponseSource journalist enquiry keep the response heading the same as theirs. ResponseSource is something I will sign up for when resources allow. It’s a well-established kind of back to front press release where the editors state exactly what they’re looking for and ask for submissions via DWPub emails. You pay to subscribe to emails in your industry category and you then pitch direct to that editor.
* If you direct-Tweet an editor (eg @editor), remember they can see exactly who else you’re pitching to as well. My most successful ‘campaign’ was via Twitter, direct-Tweeting a very ‘newsy’ online Press Release to journalists which resulted in an interview for author Diana Morgan-Hill with The Times, features in Metro and The Daily Mail, and two guest spots on BBC Radio Solent. At the drinks reception after the Q&A session I asked Stuart Flatt about direct-Tweet pitches & he said rather than the Press Release link try and get the whole pitch in the 140 characters allowed in one Tweet. Which makes sense, clicking a link is a whole extra Ask. If they’re interested they can contact you via Twitter anyway.
PR Week is moving from weekly to monthly. This raised questions about where PR in general was going in the future. Is the press release dead? someone asked. No, was the answer but certain things help. Images help a LOT. Interactive was mentioned, with more fluidity between the media outlets – viral videos a current buzzword “everyone has a viral video at the moment”. With videos in the mix the PR basics, eg don’t send high res images via email, are therefore becoming more complicated. Use DropBox for large files or something called WeTransfer, also free, which looks brilliant.
So my gameplan for the future is meticulous prep of visuals  +  thoughtful, careful targeting + killer Tweet-wording without links + join DWPub’s ResponseSource (free trials available).
There is of course no point in sending out a ‘buy my book’ press release. There has to be an angle that is either newsworthy or unique.
Picture 14
You can see the live Tweets and feedback on the evening at #editorinsights.
An edited version of this blog will be included in the next update of How To Publish An Ebook On A Budget – An Author’s Guide by Stephanie Zia with Mark Binner.