Book Publicity Lessons: Avoiding Common Book PR Mistakes

Even though it comes toward the end of your process, book publicity is the most important and longest- running part of self-publishing. Having a good plan for the aim of your book PR is as vital a step as designing your cover.  At Go Publish Yourself, we don’t leave you high and dry once you have gone through the publishing process. We know that the first step in getting good book PR is knowing what to avoid in your book publicity campaign.

#1. Getting stuck in the “Oprah Zone.” If getting on Oprah or another major network TV talk show is your one and only goal, you will always be disappointed by any other coverage you are lucky enough to get. And no one likes an ungrateful author. Trust me you are not the first to think “I could really get my story/message out there if I could just get on Oprah.” For one thing, if you are reading this in 2011 her show is over. For another, you must remember that book PR is a cumulative journey and every little bit of book publicity counts. If you miss the opportunity to get some good local coverage in your community newsletter or give a mini seminar at a local school or church because you are constantly badgering the “friend of a friend who knows a producer,” you just put yourself several steps behind on that journey.

#2. Pitching in the dark. Oftentimes authors do a ton of research and preparation before they start writing their book, but when it comes to researching the people they want to cover or review their book they do nothing. HUGE mistake!  Approach your book PR in the same manner you did your book research. Before pitching to a blogger or podcaster, editor or freelance journalist, read up on pieces they have already written. You will get better results by approaching outlets that have a specific interest in your topic than you would by simply pitching every literary magazine or book critic you have heard of.  Making an effective and specific pitch will also mean that any coverage you might garner will be seen by your best potential audience.

#3. Missing the point of galleys. If you want to get coverage from the glossy magazines or anywhere with a long lead time, you will need to send out some pre-publication copies. But sending out galleys is kind of like cold calling, and you have to consider the possibility that you might get a lot of hang ups. Of course, galley copies are not a total waste of time but there is not a lot of room for print reviews these days and some journals are no longer accepting galleys. Take the time to find out which publications do accept them in order to save yourself some time and money. Galley copies may also be sent out to personal leads for endorsements to put on your final back cover.

#4. Overlooking freelancers. Many authors go into their book PR endeavor by trying to reach out to editors, and while they so often make the final cuts about what gets in and what doesn’t they are not usually in charge of creating content for the magazine/newspaper. They rely on freelancers to review and write the pieces. So should you. Full time freelancers all have websites, LinkedIn profiles, and email addresses. Find them.

#5. Ignoring the possibility of a new approach. The adage in book PR is “if it isn’t getting ink, you must re-think.” These days, the definition of “ink” is a lot looser but the message here still rings true. Going back to square one with your book publicity campaign is no one’s idea of a good time, but finding a new angle and working it will be significantly less frustrating than pitching and sending out books and getting nothing in return. Can you tailor your message more to your target audience? Does your message have seasonal tie-ins? Could you hook up with a company or charitable organization that will allow you to extend your efforts and make your message more newsworthy?

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