Publicity 101: The Importance of Tracking Your Pitching

While tracking the outlets you’ve pitched in hopes of procuring reviews, features or interviews for you and your book isn’t the most exciting process there ever was, it sure is important.

Why, you ask? Firstly, it saves valuable time and money. Arguably just as important, tracking the outlets, contact names, contact emails, phone numbers, addresses, contact positions and outcomes will not only keep you organized, but also stop you from pitching the same people twice. No one enjoys getting the same copy and pasted message more than once.

Your personal running record of contact information acts as a good reference sheet for future pitches as well. For example, we’re currently launching a media campaign for the third installment of Chris Babu’s Initiation series (more on that to come—stay tuned!). Having worked on the second book, The Expedition, and documenting every pitched outlet while noting those who ran our pieces in the past gives us a better idea of who we should re-pitch for the new book.

In other words, because of our record-keeping, we know who is more likely to say yes, who only offers paid reviews, who only works with local authors, and so on. You’ve already spent countless hours on outlet research. Why start over for every pitch? Tracking your work is also crucial for determining when to follow up. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly check-in via email or phone to yield a response.

Now that we’ve covered why it’s essential to track your pitching, you may be wondering how exactly you should track. Lucky for you, there are plenty of tracker templates and organizers out there that make it easy for you to input key information. Even an Excel spreadsheet does the trick. Below you can find a sample format:

Want more information on how to curate the perfect media list? Check out our five-step process.

Book Giveaways!

We are now doing book giveaways through Rafflecopter!

This post will be updated with ongoing Rafflecopter book giveaways.

Check periodically for the latest book that we are giving away to lucky readers!

Read more about the books and authors we work with on our campaigns page.

We are currently giving away a copy of Neal Rabin’s adventurous novel (perfect for summer reading) 23 DEGREES SOUTH: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether… ending on May 16th, 2018 at 12:00AM EST. The winner will be contacted by email, so make sure to check your inbox in case it was you!

“Enjoy with your favorite cocktail!…23 DEGREES SOUTH will capture all readers with its story of two young friends on different paths who intersect within an action packed story.”
– Chanticleer Reviews, 5/5 Stars

“McKinney, a veteran book publicist, has produced a clear, basic road map to publicizing a book. .” – Publishers Weekly
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Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?

Do You Know What a Book Publicist DoesDO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
By Claire McKinney

For more information on the book visit our Plum Bay Publishing page or on Amazon.

Book publishing is an ever-changing industry—between technological advancements, the emergence of self-publishing, and the rise of social media, how can an author distinguish their book from the competition? Whether traditional or self-published, authors can be left in the dark when it comes to promoting and marketing their books.

Book publicity expert Claire McKinney has found that the lack of information on how book promotion works has left most authors without a clear idea of how they can contribute to their campaigns. Her new book DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns, stems from over twenty years of experience in the field.

In her book, McKinney exposes the depth of extensive campaigning necessary for successful promotion. From this, authors can begin to understand the everyday workings of their in-house publicist—and for indie authors, how they can improve their own promotional efforts.

Book promotion can be rife with opportunities to make or break an author’s career, and McKinney examines these pitfalls. Showing writers how to brand themselves and identify their professional goals to properly prepare their books for success, McKinney also dives deep into important topics such as creating a personal image, writing press kits, and the importance of building momentum through media with unique insight that could only be provided by a seasoned industry professional.

Combining professional advice with charts and case studies, authors will see the inner workings of book publicity at every angle from initial idea generation to event planning.

In DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? authors will learn:

• How to promote their book to the media
• How to create their own media contact list
• How to write press release materials and how to use them
• How to create a timeline and plan a campaign on their own
• How to pitch, who to pitch, and when
• How to talk to their publisher about publicity

With McKinney’s clear voice, readers will be equipped with the tools they need to create a campaign from scratch, and have fun in the process. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? serves as a comprehensive step-by-step guide that every author should have in their arsenal.

About the Author
Claire McKinney is twenty-year veteran of the publishing industry. She has worked for major publishers, including Little, Brown and Company, Putnam, and Disney Publishing Claire has appeared on CSPAN and on the Today Show as an expert on self-publishing. She travels regularly to speak to authors and audiences about book promotion, publishing, and social media marketing. Visit her at www.clairemckinneypr.com.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
Claire McKinney
Plum Bay Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9988617-0-8
Paperback
Price $11.99
146 pp

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Book Publicity 101: 5 Reasons Press Releases Still Matter

I have heard directly from book review editors that they toss the materials that come with review copies.  I have also had a radio producer chastise me for mistakenly not sending a press packet with a book.  Clients have asked me if press releases matter anymore: “I mean does anybody really read those things?”  The short answer is “yes”: there are media, booksellers, librarians, academics, etc. who actually do pay attention to an old fashioned press release, and you have no way of knowing who is going to insist on having one and who isn’t.  So in my opinion, I wouldn’t sacrifice this tool just yet.

Here are five practical reasons why:

  1. The Core Message: Press releases are different from any of the other copy you will use to market your book. Some of the words may be the same as what you have on the back of the jacket, but the release is supposed to achieve a few things including delivering the newsworthy or unique aspects of what you are presenting; giving the reader an idea of why you would be a good interview subject; and a relatively brief synopsis of the best points of the book (or product depending on your industry).  If you want to read some examples you can check out these links on our website:
  2. Press Approved Copy or When Your Words Come Back to Haunt You: This is my favorite.  First of all the copy on your release is assumed to be vetted and usable for the press.  It is likely that one outlet or another will actually lift the synopsis or even the entire release and reprint it online or in the newspaper.  The first time I saw this it was a little weird, but the words on the release, by the very nature of what the document is, are fair game for repurposing.
  3. SEO Optimization: Having the release available on your website, your publicist’s, publishers, etc. gives you more real estate online and can offer more search results. You will notice a search for your book brings up Amazon.com and other big properties first, your publisher, and even our website can appear on the first or near the top of the second page.  It gives you more power online when there are more references to you and your work.
  4. The Pitch Package: So many people interact primarily on email these days, so there is a bit more “room” to present the best aspects of your book. As a standard practice we write pitches according to which people we are sending them, and we paste the press release below so the media contact can choose to learn more.  In the past we would send a cover letter with the press kit which constituted the pitch, and I know that today all of those pages won’t get read in a mailing.  The release is an informational supplement that provides another tool for marketing.  If a contact only wants to read three sentences, fine.  If more is desired, it’s all there in the email.
  5. Standard Practices: More people want to see a release than not, and it’s part of the public relations/media relations process. In addition, your booksellers, event coordinators at higher end venues, librarians—they want to see the meat of what you are selling without having to read the entire book.  Having a press release gives you a more serious, professional persona when you are marketing your book.  It says, you mean business and people should pay attention to you.  Don’t sell yourself short.

The other more esoteric reason for the release is that it is an opportunity for you and your publicist to come to an understanding of what your intention is about your book and its relevance.  You may also discover some things that are unclear about your work, or an interpretation that is not at all what you meant.  It’s important to come to terms with how the book will be presented and what the selling points are.  It’s super competitive out there, as you know, and you want to make sure your work is getting the attention it deserves.

 

Case Studies 3: Accepting the Audience that Wants Your Book and Reaping the Benefits

You have an MFA in Creative Writing from a respected program/university.  You have been carefully crafting your story and verbiage to create the best literary debut you can. Now for promotion and the audience that comes with it—Paris Review?  The New Yorker? Tin House? New York Times Book Review? Not likely.

Whether you are published by a traditional publisher with a lot of muscle, a small independent press, or your own book production venture, no one can count on that kind of coverage for literary novels.  For one thing, there just aren’t enough venues anymore.  The other problem is that there are too many books and too little time, and frankly, if you are not published by Knopf or Simon & Schuster, you just won’t command the kind of attention you need to get into one of those classic publications.

Whatever you do, don’t stop writing and don’t give up hope for promotion!  We need great writing and great books, and while you can’t market a work of serious fiction as a chick lit novel, you can consider what other audiences might be interested in your story.

Recently we worked with an author and a novel.  It was definitely a literary book, but it also had different attributes that gave it potential in some niche audiences that were actually bigger than the more esoteric fiction readers that serious writers like to reach. The author had supported herself in non-traditional ways while working on her writing and had achieved a position as a teacher and founder of a charity that promotes writing for children in underdeveloped countries. She definitely had the credentials of a writer.

Since we specialize in promoting fiction across multiple genres and niches, we maximized our focus to include media that covered fiction, literary fiction, romance, christian fiction, debut novelists, philanthropy, and New York City settings.  We approached bloggers, websites, print, radio, and when warranted, television.

We were pretty happy with the coverage from the general fiction audiences and the publisher secured a review in the top trade, but what really paid off was a review on USAToday.com from a reviewer interested in the romance/womens fiction angle.  This review was not only a good one, but it did a couple of things that benefitted the author in a number of ways.  First of all when it ran there was a spike in sales on Amazon.com.  We were able to use the review and its national print-to-online paper status to secure additional media including a local television station in one of her home markets.  Was she happy about the review?  Well, at first not so enthusiastic because she was concerned that she would be “pigeon holed” as a romance writer.  I say “who cares?” as long as you sell books at this stage of the game.

Now I am also a branding strategist, so I do know that is important to avoid being classified as something that isn’t appropriate for you or your career.  However, one review for a debut novel isn’t going to determine your path.  It is a milestone that needs to be appreciated for what it is and to be used in as many positive ways as possible.

One of the best things she got from the deal? She was able to get a Bookbub promotion on the first try.  If any of you have tried to secure a slot on this infamous discounted book marketing site, you may have tried two or three times and perhaps did not even get accepted in the end.  One of their requirements is that they have legitimate reviews or news coverage of a book, whether traditionally or self-published and USAToday.com definitely can help put you over the top in terms of qualifying.

Her promotion ran, and her Amazon rank went from five figures to the lower threes, somewhere around 300, which is a major leap in ranking.  Sales activity like this will increase her audience; garner more Amazon/Goodreads reviews and ratings; generate additional full price sales; and will help along with the press coverage when she wants to bring out her next book and is searching for a publisher.

A couple of lessons here: Try to find every possible way to promote your fiction even if it doesn’t lead you to the coveted New York Times review.  When you do get a big nod that isn’t exactly what you wanted, revel in it, celebrate, do the ten second dance of joy, take a breath…and get back to work.