by Maralyn Hill
Publicity is to books what oxygen is to lungs. Without it, sales suffocate and die. –Kent Carroll
Because marketing and public relations (PR) go hand and hand, I think of them as twins, they are almost the same. You can do a lot of online marketing, but you still need to know how to get attention from the PR community, line up interviews, send press releases and target the right markets. An ongoing effort is required. For example, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was released in 1957 and continues to remain on the best seller list due to aggressive ongoing marketing and PR.
Since 2001, I’ve co-authored three books, edited numerous others, coached and assisted writers and journalists on marketing and the importance of PR. As someone who had spent 20 years in marketing and public relations, I’ve always been amazed that authors and journalists frequently don’t realize, if they don’t sell themselves, they are not going to soar to the top.
Writers like to write and frequently resent having to think about the other aspects necessary to be successful. Marketing and PR should begin at a book’s inception. This is true, whether independently published or traditionally published. One month is the maximum you will get in marketing from a main line publisher. Even in 1966, when Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls was published, she recognized the importance of marketing. She was the first female author who sold over 30 million books. Now, if you don’t submit a marketing plan with your book proposal, it will be tossed and not even considered by an agent or publisher. The exception would be an author or celebrity who is already famous.
Since I focus so much now on writing about food, wine and travel, I encourage writers in this genre to venture into books. At first, independently published cooked books experienced problems with color limitations. This is not the case today, with more competitive color availability. Cookbooks and travel books have been popular a long time, and today, books on wines and spirits are increasing in popularity.
Here is the difficulty. If you go into a bookstore and look at the competition, how does your book stand out? First of all, would bookstores stock it? Then, why would a customer pick it over someone else’s? You need to give the buyer a reason. This is achieved with marketing and PR.
My suggestion is to invest in a professionally designed website. My own preference is WordPress, but in any event, be sure your website includes a blog. When you start blogging, whether you post travel tales, wine reviews, recipes, or any subject you are covering, your blog will keep your material fresh. You should link these posts to social networking sites and start to build a following while you are working on your book. Then you introduce your book and keep sharing information about it. People who connect online want to get something beneficial from your posts. It is up to you to provide it.
I know you might rather be working on your book, but invest thirty minutes to an hour a day to work online networking and blogging. This task will get easier as you go along, develop feedback and generate excitement.
Possibly, you are not willing to invest time in using a blog, social networking, sending press releases and lining up interviews, but you still want a successful seller. Then, your best approach is to hire a good publicist. However, even a good publicist cannot help you soar without your input. If you go that route, set priorities, goals and budget. Keep the twins on track and have your marketing and PR work together.
The majority of Maralyn’s articles are now geared to the luxury market, spas, corporate retreats, business events, and culinary tourism, from simple to gourmet.
Maralyn’s description of herself: "I was born to travel and tell the tale. I’m energized by different cultures in every aspect of their lives, from food, wine, and destination, to how they conduct business. Travel represents a continual geography lesson."