Marketing a book successfully by using a book publicist
Occasionally I come across people much smarter than I am… OK, so it’s more than just occasionally… Anyway – this is one of those times when an expert in the industry so succinctly and clearly explains a topic that I feel the need to let THEM tell the story in their own words. If you’ve finished self publishing your book – or, even if you are just in the beginning stages of writing a book that you are considering self publishing – this article should help you understand two big items when you get to the book marketing stage of the process…
This article is also posted on the Dog Ear Publishing web site here
The Difference Between Book Publicity and Book Advertising
by Sandra Diaz, President, Smith Publicity
As a book publicist working with authors from all walks of life, I’m often asked to explain the difference between book publicity and book advertising. Both are methods of marketing a book – however, they are very different processes and can have very different goals and outcomes.
When a book is first published, the goal is to create awareness about the author and his or her book for a variety of reasons including driving book sales, building the author’s brand, positioning the author as an expert, and attracting professional opportunities for the author such as speaking engagements, professional advancement, and future book publishing opportunities.
Book publicity and advertising are both part of a broader book marketing strategy employed to create awareness. Most people recognize book advertising since they’re exposed to it everyday as they watch television, read a newspaper or visit an online news site – and they react to it as exactly that: advertising. It suffers, to a degree, from a lack of credibility. Book publicity, however, is ‘invisible’ to most consumers as the author and his or her book is actually part of the news.
The best way to explain the difference between book publicity and book advertising is to pick up a magazine and find a story featuring an author, and in the same issue find an advertisement for a book. The article gives the author and his book credibility as the reader knows the magazine thinks enough of the person to incorporate him or her into the story. The advertisement creates awareness for the book; however the reader also knows someone paid for this advertisement. Therein lays the key difference: author credibility vs. targeted controlled messaging.
In advertising, someone—the book publisher or author—pays the media outlet for advertising space or airtime. The buyer has 100% control over what is in the advertisement (the message) and when and to whom it appears. The primary benefit of book advertising is targeted control and immediacy. The weakness of advertising, however, is that credibility is lacking and the author receives little long-term benefit.
With book publicity, it’s the book publicist’s job to convince the media the author will provide readers or listeners with meaningful information—whether entertaining, insightful, educational, inspiring, or controversial—and then to make the author part of the news. Examples of media coverage might include feature stories, articles, book reviews, interviews, op-ed pieces, and expert commentaries. There is no payment from the author or publicist to the media for this coverage. Each of the parties involved–the media outlet and author–get something they want and need. The media gets content and an ‘expert’, the author receives a tremendous boost in credibility and possibly book sales.
Put simply, the role of book publicity and the book publicist is to make the author newsworthy and to build them as a ‘brand’. The result gives the author immediate credibility and begins to build their name as a recognizable brand in the eyes of consumers. The benefits of being “seen on” or “featured in” well respected media outlets lasts long after the book publicity campaign ends. The credibility that comes from a successful book publicity campaign is priceless.
To emphasize another difference between advertising and publicity, it is important that authors keep in mind that when the media does a story or interview, they control the content of the interview or story. Book publicists suggest direction for the coverage, but publicists can’t control if they cover the author, how he or she is covered or when. A producer or editor can do whatever they want and go in any direction. They may sing the praises of an author and his or her book, or spin the story in an unforeseen direction. Book publicity is a strategy that is implemented over time – with long term residual results.
When you want planned, targeted, and immediate exposure for a book, book advertising is the route to explore. To build credibility for an author, develop him or her as an expert and brand, as well as drive book sales, over a longer timeframe consider book publicity. There are, of course, no guarantees in book publicity (or book advertising for that matter), but when it works, it literally provides opportunities you could never buy.
Sandra Diaz is the president of Smith Publicity. Hundreds of authors/publishers turn to Smith Publicity to create book publicity campaigns, build a brand, increase book sales, and open doors to new opportunities. You can contact her at Sandy@smithpublicity.com
Smith Publicity has conducted 900+ book publicity campaigns since 1997. The firm has secured coverage for authors on virtually every major broadcast, newspaper, magazine and Internet outlet worldwide.
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