PR questions for authorsIs there something that keeps you up at night when your thoughts turn to the upcoming launch of your new book?   Almost every author I know admits to at least one or two nagging concerns.

Someone brilliant on my staff (Jessica Krakoski) suggested I start asking this question when speaking with potential clients.  I love it, not only because it prompts surprising answers, but also because it helps everyone get clear, very quickly, on goals.

Authors too often think in broad terms when defining success.  A lot of sales, a good bit of media notice, oh, and by the way, it would be great if this book helps me sell more consulting and raise my speaking fees.

Do you understand the problem with that list?  It isn’t helpful in mapping a strategy.  It suggests ways you might succeed but doesn’t really commit to any of them.   It feels like a standard, check the boxes form that none of us likes to fill out in part because the answers suggest that it’s a trade-off, with no option to combine several outcomes.

Before you hire a publicist, sign off on a PR or marketing plan, or invest any effort in making the world aware that you’ve just written a whole book for heaven’s sake, put a few more words on paper and answer these seven questions:

  • Did I write this book to inform, entertain, or provoke conversation?
  • Do I want critical acclaim?
  • Is it important to me to build an audience not only for my book but for my services?
  • What audience is the most likely to buy my book?
  • What media does that audience consume?
  • Do I have the time and expertise to create more content to support the book?
  • What do I have on offer that is very valuable to my intended audience?

The answers should give you direction and define your purpose.  Even if you have more than one goal, you will emerge from the exercise understanding that you likely require a multi-faceted approach.     And it may help you make an important hiring decision for your team.  Just as there are abundant choices today on how to publish, from a traditional large house to a DIY digital effort, there are an equal number of choices for promotional support.  Knowing what kind of support you need, be it a speaker’s bureau, a public relations firm, or a crack sales team, will put you way ahead of the game.

Consider these seven questions as the salve to quell the nighttime worries.  I bet they’ll work at least as well as that glass of red wine.

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