Prepare talking points before making media appearances.
Many new authors spend so much time and energy trying to get in the newspaper or on radio that when they get there, they don’t know what to say. But if you take an hour to prepare concise, compelling comments about your book, you’ll come off as a real pro, increase sales, and maybe even be asked back!
The average radio interview lasts five minutes, of which three might be broadcast, and on average you might get six inches of coverage in your local newspaper. You don’t have a lot of time to waste hemming and hawing about your book, and the journalist interviewing you doesn’t want to waste his or her time either. So before you even start soliciting press coverage, write down and memorize your talking points.
You say you know your book? I’m sure you do. But when you’re under the gun of a timed interview, or an interviewer hits you with a surprise question, it’s easy to stammer or get confused. Talking points are your lifeline. I suggest preparing a list that looks like this:
a.What’s the “elevator pitch” (a 10-second summary) of my book?
b.Who is my book targeted to?
c.How did I decide to write it?
d.What are three passages in my book that I want to quote?
e.What can people get out of my book?
f.Where can people buy my book?
Write those down on note cards and memorize them, but keep the cards with you when you do interviews, just in case. That way, you’ll come off more professional and make the most of the time you get.
Focus heavily on PR.
If you don’t believe in the power of public relations and the media to turn an unknown book into a bestseller, I have two words for you: Oprah Winfrey. Get your book 15 minutes on her show and you’ll sell a million copies. That’s the power of the media.
Of course, getting on Oprah is the Holy Grail of book marketing, and while you shouldn’t NOT try to get on her show, you shouldn’t focus only on that. PR is your most powerful tool for creating awareness and selling books. So early on, while you’re still in final editing, start making lists of media outlets, cashing in on contacts, making calls and sending out e-mails.
PR works because it’s got credibility. Instead of a paid ad, people see an objective journalist reviewing your book, or a talk show host who’s chosen to have you on her show because she liked your book. Media exposure carries tremendous weight with book buyers. Ask your friends how many books they’ve bought after hearing about them on “Fresh Air” on National Public Radio.
These are some of the PR avenues you can pursue:
·Reviews in any and all publications, print and online especially.
·Features in print and online publications.
·A regular column in a magazine or newspaper or online.
·A role as an “expert source” for one or more journalists.
·Creating press events.
·Tying your book to a charity or cause.
It all begins with your press kit. That’s a snazzy folder that contains the press release about your book’s publication, a bio of you, a black and white photo of you (professionally done) and any press coverage you may have already received. Once you’ve identified your media list, send that kit to the key contacts at each paper, magazine, TV or radio station.
But don’t stop there. PR is about relationships, and you’ve got to strike the right balance of “eager to help” and “respecting your time.” Follow up your press kit with an e-mail in a week or so, and stay in touch. Offer story ideas or to be quoted for a feature. Make yourself an asset to journalists and editors and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Two final tips:
·Always include your Web address in your PR, stories, interviews, etc.
·Always get reprints, videotapes, etc. of your press coverage to use later.
About the Author
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