I have awesome writer friends who went to the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and shared their notes with me. I thought you’d appreciate this, too. I’ve added in my own personal comments into the notes to make them readable. This is from the second program: “Public Relations Essentials,” by Laura Reeth (who does PR for Nora Roberts).
Consider the writing style of your public relations (blog posts, newspaper and magazine articles, any kind of pres release). Are you straightforward? Classical? Whimsical? When starting out, it’s best to be straightforward.
Do you have modifiers for your book? A blog and a website are ideal because you need a place where people can find you and see what you’re about. It’s a great idea to have this in place before you even write your query letter and try to find an agent. But you definitely need this in place once you have the book printed.
Include this on your website/blog:
* A bio — one page that you can print with your information to hand out at events
* Publicity photo, one that is PROFESSIONAL and not a Facebook selfie to be included with your bio
* A place for email sign ups — believe it or not, email is one of the BEST marketing tools and authors that don’t use it are hurting themselves. Make sure this is mobile so you can take sign-ups with you on the road to events.
* Social media — Facebook, Twitter (useful for events), Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Tumblr (Only use these if you know what you’re doing. Some writers have been ridiculed out of existence while attempting to “be cool” on Tumblr — check out Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr page for ideas on how to do it right.)
* Giveaways — like bookmarks or business cards
It’s important to find your comfort zone in promoting yourself and your book. Remember, these are things you can be doing even before your book is published. In fact, you should be doing them before your book is published.
* Be consistent in whatever you do. Find your voice and stick to it. Why do you write? Are you a naturally encouraging person? Critical? Thoughtful? Let your cause come out through your public relations efforts. Be true to you.
* Be daring in social media. But don’t be rude.
* Ask questions and listen to the answers.
* Good manners count. All. The. Time.
* Be genuinely interested in the people you meet.
* Link everything together (especially Instagram and Facebook. Apparently photos from Instagram go farther on Facebook than photos posted directly to Facebook — ie. more of your friends/followers will see what you post.) However, a word of caution, if you link all of your sites to post from one medium like Buffer, make sure your scheduled message is friendly to all social media sites that you’re posting to. For example, hashtags are more welcome on Twitter than Facebook. Follow the social media “rules” for best success.
* Produce high quality content. All. The. Time.
* Be interesting.
* Minimize self-promotion (and instead, post about your interests or promote others). My (Sydney’s) personal rule for self-promotion is to only do it once a day or less on social media. Instead, I’ve found that networking with other authors by inviting them to showcase their work on my blog has gotten me farther than self-promotion ever could. And I enjoy that much more.
* Be consistent in posting and with your brand. Remember, your brand is your voice, your message, what you stand for. Example brand: “Just do it.” What comes to your mind? Nike. When people think of you, what’s the first thing you want to pop into their minds? Whatever that first thing is will be your brand. So find what you want to be known for and stick with it.
* Encourage people to get on board with your website and email list through your social media.
* Be yourself. All. The. Time. I’d say this is maybe the most important thing ever. If you aren’t being true to yourself, then you aren’t having fun. And if you aren’t having fun doing all of this hard work, then you won’t stick with it. And publishing is something you need to commit to for the long haul in order to have success.
* Interact and engage with people. You’d want to interact with your favorite author and not be ignored by them, right?
Here are some ways to make your public relations a little easier. Many authors will stress that they don’t have time to do all the promotions because they’re writing, or they can’t write because they’re doing too much promotion. Give yourself at least six months to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
* Schedule posts so you don’t have to spend all day doing PR. I (Sydney) use Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter. It’s very easy to use. And my public Facebook page lets me schedule posts in advance. So, if I wanted to, with those two tools alone, I could schedule all of my social media for a week or more in advance. But I usually don’t do that. I schedule a day in advance at a time just to make sure I stay current with the trends of the world.
* Use posts from others (Instead of rewriting someone else’s article, just post a link to the article on your site). This is a fantastic idea because it can boost your Google rankings. It’s fine to quote someone else’s blog posts as long as you give them credit! Don’t steal.
* Get help from friends or your kids if you need to.
* Hire a PR consultant or virtual publicist. If you have the time, I highly push you to do your own PR. Readers want to interact with YOU, not your hired consultant or personal assistant. If you do have someone working for your PR, make a point to drop in on your social media, website, and blog once in a while so it has a sound of your voice. But you may also find that you get along just fine without help at all. It’s definitely the cheaper option, but it could also be a great help if you have no one to mentor you through the beginning of the process.
All of your PR efforts are a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll have bad days and good days. I can’t stress enough the importance of consistency and not giving up. I know the saying is cliche, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it’s true. Your readers won’t be built in a day, either. Be patient with yourself. Keep going and keep learning.