One of the things I come across most consistently in my day-to-day work with authors is unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it’s experienced authors who just don’t realize how much the publishing industry has changed in the last several years; other times, it’s newer authors who believe the myths and hope for the best. Still, unrealistic expectations can be a source of heartache and certainly can make it hard to set and achieve realistic goals for promotion that increases sales. Beware!
Let’s talk about a few problem areas:
- National media is a long shot. When you look at the big picture, there are a very few spots available and a huge number of potential guests want them. Journalists who do the guest scheduling are known for saying things like, “We don’t do fiction,” and while that’s obviously not entirely true, it should be a clue. Producers aren’t looking for ways to sell your book, they’re looking for ways to engage their audiences and attract advertisers to keep them in production. Even if I can find a segment idea to pitch them about why you will be the perfect guest for their program, I still have to have clips and references from other shows you’ve been on to convince them that you’re a seasoned professional and won’t leave them looking like an idiot. Most authors who are insistent about national media seem to want to bypass those things and rarely have significant clips, experience or program hooks for me to use. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can and I’ve done it. I’m just saying it’s a long shot so wisdom says to make it part of your publicity plan if you like, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket.
- Overnight success isn’t likely. Ours is a “microwave” society. We want instant gratification and have set out to discover ways to shorten the process, whether it’s cooking a baked potato or developing name recognition and demand for a brand. I get quite a few requests for media tours that take place over one and two week periods and reviews that are complete in a matter of weeks. What I seem to have trouble communicating is that I can make those things happen, with some effort, but they won’t accomplish what many authors hope they will and that’s to make them a household name in a few weeks. It just doesn’t work that way. Effective, long-lasting book promotion takes time, consistency, and effort. Whatever it may look like from the outside, slow and steady wins the race.
- Social media is all you need these days. Wouldn’t that be great? Internet World Statistics published in 2012 show that the North American population makes up 11.4% of world internet users. Mind-boggling, right? Those of us who immersed ourselves in this new technology as soon as it became available find it hard to believe, but the numbers are pretty consistent and probably quite accurate. That translates into approximately 274 million North American internet users in 2012 so obviously authors who restrict their promotional efforts to internet users still have a large target market to work with. BUT it also means there’s a large target market they won’t reach if they don’t seek promotional opportunities offline. To get the best return on investment, it’s important to devise a well-rounded plan that targets several different areas for maximum effect.
- A publicist makes all the difference. I wish it was that easy. A publicist can make it easier by staffing your weakness, but even the best publicist can’t get it done if the book and the author are not suited for the pitch. Yes, I have some contacts who will book any author I call them about if I press the issue, but I don’t work like that and it wouldn’t accomplish much for you if I did. A publicist, an author and a publisher joined together can make a great team and a team can accomplish a lot more than a single author who also needs time to keep writing. There are many benefits to hiring a publicist, but please don’t think you can hire a publicist then go back to writing and forget promotion. A publicist alone won’t take you where you want to go.
I believe the potential for authors is HUGE in 2014. Opportunities abound and I hope you have a plan to take advantage of them. There’s no better time than the present! So adjust your expectations and get started (if you haven’t already). If you need another member of your team, or if you just have questions, feel free to contact me at BreakThrough Promotions. Onward we go!