7 PR Questions Every Author Should Ask

PR questions for authors

Is there something that keeps you up at night when your thoughts turn to the upcoming launch of your new book?

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:

DIY Book Publicity: What Every Author Can Do

DIY Book PUblicity

I regularly meet with new authors eager for attention for their work. For many, a full-time publicist isn’t an option. Fortunately, today’s media landscape is rife with opportunity for the DIYer. I was inspired to put together this short list of suggestions after more than two decades of working in book publicity and, very recently, becoming an author myself. Is it subjective? Yes. But I guarantee that it’s a great place to start when you find yourself thinking you should do “something” about your PR.
These tips are specifically for those promoting their own work, but if you have a publicist, they’re still a great place to start and will make you an awesome and collaborative client.

How to Land a Publishing Deal

Neal Malliet photo

Pollsters report that as many as 80 percent of all Americans say they want to write a book, in excess of 200 million people. And while options for bringing a book to market are expanding, only a small percentage of authors ultimately land a publishing deal. Given that enormous group of aspiring writers, I decided to sit down with an acquiring editor and attempt to demystify the process. Neal Maillet has enjoyed a 30-year career in book publishing, working at publishing companies as diverse as Bantam/Bertelsmann, John Wiley & Sons, Timber Press/Workman Publishing, and Berrett-Koehler. He is currently Editorial Director at Berrett-Koehler, which is located in Oakland, California.

Why Being Published is So Personal

This month is a big one for me, so much so that I am departing from my usual blog format of serving up what I hope is useful information on any and all things book-related. Instead, I’m writing from what I now fondly call my author chair, the place where I did a 180-degree career flip and wrote a book rather than promoted them. As with so many of life’s experiences, it’s been a journey.

Own Your First Impression

Name badge

Most first encounters in the modern world happen virtually, via your online presence. From customers to coffee dates, everyone is vetting you before they buy from you, do business with you, or even before showing up for an initial meeting. Every tweet, status update, blog, photo, and emoji you post is a crucial part of your first impression. Welcome to the age of the personal brand. Be proactive about what can be found on the internet in a simple search for your name. Be proactive in this space and set up a checklist to guide your efforts.

Being Heard in an Era of Noise

Standing out in a crowd

We live in an era of noise where news and information is abundant, coming to us 24/7 in an unceasing stream. At the same time, our attention span is shrinking. A study conducted last year by Microsoft shows that our ability to focus dropped from 12 seconds in 2000, to a new record low of eight seconds in 2015. Together, the din and our diminishing ability to pay attention make it more difficult to be heard. How can you stand out? What does it take to become a world class communicator? And perhaps the biggest question of all – how do you not only get someone’s attention, but keep it? Before you begin crafting material and take to the public stage, consider cultivating at least some of the skills that seasoned reporters rely on.

What Literary Agents Love

Literary Agent Jud Laghi

The changing publishing world has left many confused about literary agents. Do you need one? How do you get one? What do they do? We sat down with Literary Agent Jud Laghi to learn more about why you need an agent in the DIY era of publishing and a better idea of what they really do.

Jump Start Your PR Plan

PR plan 2016

The New Year provides a great chance to restart your PR plans. Some good ways to get started include refreshing your social media profiles, write a new blog post or column, find ten journalists to follow on Twitter, schedule a networking event and identify one stretch goals.