Sunday, December 14, 2008
For several years I have promoted a few authors. I am asked often how I got into the business and to give input on how to get your book in the media. Since today is a day off for me, I thought I would share with you some success stories and give you a few pointers on how to get media attention for your book.
I started my career many moons ago as a swimwear model for Carol Wior. I learned from her the grass roots of marketing and branding. She gave me advice that I will never forget and I it took to heart. "Learned every aspect of the business, don't be a pretty face with an empty head." That advice took me from in front of the lens to PR. Not public relations, but PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. Every contact became a source for building relationships with others. And most relationships that I have in the media today have spanned my two decade career. The girl with the southern drawl speaks often with reporters in New York, LA, and DC and every city in between. With the rise of social media, those relationships have become even more important as we recall the phone pitch and complain about the number of emails that often get deleted after reading the first sentence.
My first big dive into the world of publishing and authors was with David L. Steward, author of the Doing Business by the Good Book. Mr. Steward is a quite billionaire entrepreneur in St. Louis who is the founder of WWT. I was introduced to him by Earl Graves, Sr. in Dallas at a conference. Mr. Steward was named the number one Black owned business that year (2001) and I was impressed with his humility and compassion for others in spite of the title that was bestowed on him.
He taught a Sunday school class, every Sunday, called Doing Business by the Good Book. He taught his class to everyday business owners and showed by example how he modeled his company based on biblical principles. After meeting him, I attended his class and knew he was on to something. The book deal was brokered by a member of his class,and I was asked to help promote it. His words to me were "promote me like you do Holmes Pest Control!" He had done his research on me and knew how passionate I was about my environmental pest control business. My company was successful despite all of the odds of me not succeeding in the pest control industry.
George H. Bush was asked to write the foreword to the book. At that time, the Bush name carried much clout, and this was considered a home run in the publishing world. DBBTGB was not only promoted in the faith community but was a leadership manual for servant leadership study within many large corporations like Dell, Microsoft, and Johnson & Johnson to name a few.
DBBTGB tells Mr. Steward's story of being a 'nobody' top sales person working for FedEx and with no prior knowledge of the technology biz, to his thirteen year journey through tough economic challenges to becoming the largest Black owned business in the country. Not Oprah folks, David L. Steward. He was ranked in Forbes and Fortune magazines. I still refer to him as my gentle giant. He is soft spoken and never allowed his billionaire status to corrupt his values. I am still learning from him.
Because of his humility, he was easy to work with and did not come with a list of demands. Coordinating his schedule for promoting the book was the tricky part but the first year was a learning curve. He gave away more than he sold as the case with most first time authors. After a few book signings with George H. Bush and several bookings on local TV and radio stations, the book sales started to rise significantly. Being around such powerful individuals got me in front of many and led me to work and promote others who had similar books or was transitioning from CEO corporate leadership to faith base and marketplace ministry.
We hit our target market by booking him for speaking engagements at business conferences and several large business schools where he was the keynote speaker. He is booked six to twelve times a year for fundraisers for non-profits and business conferences and a minimum book order is required. Books are shipped two months in advance so that organization can sell the books as part of their fundraiser. Prepaid Legal ordered several thousand for one of their annual conferences one year. This helps the group cut costs and promotes his visit as well as the book. The buzz about the book is built ahead of time and it makes for good discussions if you have Q&A time set aside.
Press releases are sent eight weeks in advance as well as contacting local radio and TV stations. This doubles the sale of the books as well as builds the name of the charity. (Make sure the charity or organization is worth the work.)
As a promoter of the author and the book, follow up is essential. Most authors do not have a promoter but there are some things you can do yourself.
1. If you agree to speak for an organization, make sure they order a certain number of books up front. I often find if they are serious about you coming, they will order the books.
2. Contact local radio and TV yourself. Do not leave the promoting of you to another person. Send a signed copy of the book to the show host as well as the producer, AND the person who takes the call. The assistant to the host has the power folks!!
3. List your upcoming engagement, in every paper in the town or city. Do not expect others to do it. The difference between selling a book and a hundred books is making sure you hit the daily as well as the local weekly community papers. Community papers will often give you more detailed study so do not leave them out.
4. With the rise of blogs, bloggers are an excellent choice for book reviews. Ask fellow bloggers to mention your book on their blogs. Give the JPEG of your book to those who are willing to write about it. A picture is worth a thousand words. Do not ask someone to pay for a book that you want to have reviewed. You will not get a review, I promise you. (Ask me how I know that?)
5. Be consistent. I find it frustrating to deal with on and off authors. If you are going to write a book, 'Just do it'. Talk is cheap. I know several authors who have been writing a book for ten years. When I see them at business conferences, I try to find the nearest exit. They want to talk about their imaginary book that they want me to help them promote for free! In my office, we call them ‘Gonnas’. "I am going to" (fill in blank.)
6. If you are not journaling or blogging every day, I would make that one of my top goals in '09. My favorite journal is from www.journalsunlimited.com. Great for making sure you get all those great details out of your head. Tell them I sent you.
One of my favorite authors is Henrietta Anne Klauser. Her book Write it Down, Make it Happen should be a requirement for anyone interested in publishing a book. On my desk is my journal, my study bible and her book. Following her suggestions helped me get into the publishing business myself. Remember the advice I was given by my first boss, Carol Wior, "Learned every aspect of the business, don't be a pretty face with an empty head." After pitching Mr. Steward to countless magazines and writing for numerous publications on various subject topics, I took the plunge into the world of magazines and started a new career.
Now, if I can go from skinny swimwear model, to environmental pest control, to flying around with a billionaire to a magazine, all with a southern drawl that someone from the Philippines would immediately know I was from Mississippi, what is stopping YOU from publishing your book?
Overcoming doubt and finding the funds to publish is what I hear the most from potential authors that keep them from publishing their baby.
I think everyone has a book inside of them waiting to be birthed. Why? We all have stories that have shaped our lives and our world view that can impact others in a positive way. I am not in the business of being a dream crasher but for the thousands that have heard me speak and ask how to get their work published only a few actually follow through on getting it from thoughts to paper and from paper to book.
I challenge you to not allow circumstances deter you from achieving your dream of being a published author. It takes work and research but I do believe with forums like www.48Days.net, several authors can be birthed in 2009. Good luck and I will share more in future posting.