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Book Publicity: Everything You Need to Know From an Industry Expert

May 9, 2019

 

Have you ever wondered what it takes to break through all the white noise, and to have your voice heard? What will it take to have a book launch filled with media coverage that positions a book to not only succeed today, but to also give it longevity for years to come? If these thoughts have crossed your mind, you're reading the right article.

 

I decided to sit down with Lori Ames, President & Founder of ThePRFreelancer, Inc. For years, Lori has helped propel authors into the marketplace by strategically positioning them in the media for opportunities to have their voices heard, names seen, and brands built. 

 

How did you get started in book publicity?

 

I was an English major in college.  Hofstra University introduced Publishing Studies as one of the specialty areas under the English major umbrella, and I jumped at the chance to participate.  I started working in book publishing two weeks after I graduated and haven’t looked back.  When I was younger, I always dreamed of editing the Great American Novel, but I found editorial to be quieter and more solitary than my personality was comfortable with.  The wide world of publicity, public relations, and marketing turned out to be a much better fit.

 

Is there a particular genre or niche that your firm specializes in? 

 

We specialize in non-fiction book publicity, with a strong emphasis on business books, but we also will handle sports, health, and current affairs titles.

 

Having so much experience in the publishing industry, could you name the biggest obstacles that new authors face when publishing a new book?

 

All authors, not just new authors, are faced with an entirely foreign publishing landscape compared to 20 years ago.  There are traditional publishers, hybrid publishers, self-publishers, traditional publishers that want a commitment from an author to buy back a certain number of books, ebook only publishers, publishers that only sell on Amazon, publishers who put out a great product, and publishers who put out a not-so-great product.  I guess the biggest question these days is should an author wait and try to secure a traditional publisher or should he or she choose an alternate route.  And then, depending on that decision, how will or should the finished product be marketed and promoted.

 

When should an author think about hiring an outside public relations firm?

 

It totally depends on their wants and needs.  We’ve worked with authors who have hired us for a pre-publication brand-building campaign so they would have media coverage to put into their book proposal and we’ve worked with authors who have come to us 6 months after a book’s publication because they had been waiting to see what would happen.  Ideally, an author should choose a public relations firm several months before publication date; there are dozens of factors that come in to play when choosing a firm, which are addressed more in depth in this article: https://speakermagazine.com/author/loriames/

 

 

The publishing industry has gone through some interesting changes over the last decade. How has that changed the way you do publicity today versus back then?

 

For us, it’s more how the mediascape has changed.  There are fewer reporters at fewer print outlets but there are more contributors at more online outlets.  There are TV shows that air online and on Facebook.  There are Facebook Live interviews.  There are Twitter chats.  It’s different but the same, because what we need to do is strategically plan and implement a publicity campaign that garners the coverage that will reach the audiences our clients need to and want to reach.

 

How important of a role does an author’s social media presence play in a publicity campaign?

 

Social media is a tricky playground.  If you’re not active, publishers and the media notice.  If you’re not strategic, you might find it to be a waste of time.  A well planned and well thought out social media plan, particularly right before and during a publicity campaign, is a must.

 

If you could give soon-to-be authors one golden nugget of advice for publicizing their upcoming book, what would it be?

 

Just one?  You know me better than that!  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Don’t ever believe an interview is off-the-record.  Don’t be “too big” or “too busy” to do an interview or write a guest post; one reader is all you need to change your business and in this day and age, you can’t predict what they’ll be reading (And I really mean this; quite a few years back, a story in a very small local newspaper pulled in a huge gig for a client – not HBR, not the WSJ, but a small local paper where a major executive happened to live unbeknownst to any of us!).  All publicity today is international in scope because of the internet, so take advantage of every opportunity!

 

______

 

Lori Ames is President and Founder of ThePRFreelancer, Inc., an agency that specializes in publicity, marketing, and public relations for non-fiction book authors.  She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as on the Dean’s Advisory Board for Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business Department of Marketing and International Business.  Lori is a regular speaker at the Principles of Marketing classes at the Zarb School of Business, at the Book Promotion course at Hofstra University, and has spoken at the National Speaker’s Association’s Mega Million Publishing Lab. In addition, she contributed a chapter to the book Adventures Of Women Entrepreneurs:  Stories That Inspire by Robin Behrstock & Contributors (Radius Press / 2017) as well as an essay to The Road Ahead:  Inspirational Stories Of Open Hearts And Minds by Jane Seymour (Post Hill Press / 2017).  She may be reached at lori@theprfreelancer.com.

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