5 top tips for book PR from publicity guru, Emma Donan of Press My Book

Thank you to Emma Donan for the following guest blog. You can contact Emma at Press My Book

Getting maximum publicity for your book  

With more and more writers going down the self-publishing route, authors are suddenly finding that unless they can afford to pay a PR company to run their book campaign, they are having to tackle publicity themselves. A daunting task for anyone, and hard to know where to begin.  

Emma Donnan is an ex-journalist and owner of Busy Bee PR, and has set up London-based, one-day courses called Press My Book. Along with her colleague Katy Weitz, she teaches attendees insider tips and tricks on making sure your book gets noticed.

Here are five points she suggests anyone attempting their own PR, should consider:

1)      What exactly are your selling points? “This is a great book that can be enjoyed by everyone.” The classic quote that gets erm… exactly no one to take any notice. The reality is that it is rarely the book (in fiction anyhow) that makes the story for the press – the author does. So you need to work out what makes you stand out from the crowd. Not always easy to work out for yourself, but bounce ideas off friends, family, the stranger in the pub – if you can keep them enthralled by a certain angle, you have more chance of catching a journalist’s attention. On our one-day course we teach you how to work out your main selling points, and how to make the most of them.  

2)      Sell yourself to the right person. Before you contact the media, be it local or national press, TV, radio, or online, make sure you have done your research. Do they cover the kind of story you are looking to put out there? And if so, which is the right desk in their office? News, features, crime, investigations, sport, the women’s desk – there a lot to choose from and what one likes, another will ignore. Then who is the best person within that desk? Often the junior reporter is your best bet. Then there will be a prime time to contact them, and a prime time to leave them alone (when they are on deadline). Get all this right, and you have more chance of getting any journalist to listen to you. 

3)      Streamline your reviews list. National newspaper reviewers get literally hundreds of books landing on their desks each week, and the reality is as a self-published author, you have next to no chance of getting them to write about you. Instead try and think of those with smaller readership, but where the readership has more chance of being interested in your book – for example find specialist magazines who cover topics that appear in your book, or look at blogs that focus on your genre.

4)      Network, network, network. Half of PR is about knowing the right people – journalists, bookshop owners, librarians, bookclub co-ordinators… We give you a list of relevant contacts as part of our course, but remember, the more you go out and talk to people, the more people you can tell about your book. As a self-published author word of mouth is crucial, and it is a steady build-up of interest that you will be able to create, rather than an instant impact from week one.  

5)      Keep one eye on the long-term. Assuming you want to write more than one book, keep in mind that you are building yourself as a brand, not just basing your image on your first novel. This can be something as simple as making your website / facebook / twitter name your own name, rather than the title of the book. Because what are you going to do when book 2 comes out – start again from scratch?

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