Power Book Publicity Tips for April 2008

Thank you for signing up for TCI-Smith Publicity’s Power Publicity Tips. In this issue:

  • April’s 5 Power Publicity Tips
  • 5 Answers to Commonly Asked Questions about Book Publicity
  • 10 Surefire Radio Interview Tips for Authors by Dan Smith


Here in the NYC area, we are still waiting for spring to feel like it’s arrived!  Dan Smith and I will be leaving for the London Book Fair www.londonbookfair.co.uk next week and are excited to talk with the many US and UK authors and publishers who have set meetings with us.

We will also be exhibiting at Book Expo America www.bookexpoamerica.com May 29-June 1 in Los Angeles. If you plan on attending these events, we welcome you to visit us to discuss your project. If you would like to set up an appointment, please contact me: sandy@smithpublicity.com or 856-489-8654, ext. 301.

Also please drop me a line for feedback and article suggestions for future Power Publicity Tips.

As always, we invite you to forward this newsletter to anyone interested in our book PR services.


Sandy Diaz
Vice President Sales & Marketing
Smith Publicity
856.489.8654 ext 301

Visit us at London Book Fair, April 14-16, Stand X325
Visit us at Book Expo America, May 30-June 1, Booth 5627

TCI-Smith Publicity
Power Publicity Tips Newsletter
April 2008

This Issue’s Top 5 Power Publicity Tips

1. Give your books away. The best way to sell books is to give them away. Autograph them and send to the media, give to friends, donate them to charity gift baskets, have radio stations use them for giveaways, or leave copies in train stations, airports or bus stations. Getting your book in circulation means more people reading it, talking about it and recommending it.

2. Your book is NOT important. Yes, you read that correctly. When it comes to interviews, no one wants to interview a book. When talking to a reporter or a radio host, remember they are interviewing YOU and are interested in what you have to say as it relates to the topics in your book—especially if they can be tied to current new stories. See article below for more: 10 Surefire Radio Interview Tips for Authors.

3. Size doesn’t matter. When it comes to doing interviews, writing an article, or talking with a freelance reporter, no opportunity is too small. Here is an example: one author balked about doing a small town, northern Florida newspaper interview. No one will read it, he thought. He did the interview, a producer at 20/20 found the interview/article on Google, which lead to a feature segment on the show. This is how Oprah works—she has readers scouring for new and interesting stories. You simply never know what an opportunity—big or small—may bring.

4. Give your opinions. If your book—fiction or non-fiction—has a theme that ties in with current news stories, write an op-ed piece. Write your thoughts, insights, and point of view on this topic. Keep it between 700 and 1200 words (check with each publication for specific guidelines). Make sure you put a bio about you as an author, your book’s name and your website/email address.

5. Think twice before doing a book signing. Generally speaking, book signings are not the best way to sell books.  Attendance can range from zero to many, so be prepared. Plan them in advance to get your event in the bookstore newsletters to generate as much pre-publicity as possible; make sure you contact your local media. IMPORTANT: Bookstores are usually more receptive to signings, and are better attended, when combined with an interesting presentation. The day of the signing, station someone at the door handing out flyers about your and your book, introduce yourself to the staff to make sure they know who you are, and ask them to encourage customers to meet you, and engage with people as they pass by. The most successful book signings we’ve set up have been when the author is outgoing, proactive, and not afraid to aggressively promote themselves at the store. Passivity at book signings, in most cases, leads to dismal sales.

5 Answers to Commonly Asked Questions about Book Publicity

Daily, I hear from authors as they research the world of book promotion. Below are five commonly asked questions with short answers. I invite you to call or email if there is anything you would like to discuss.

1. I only want to sell my book on my website, because www.amazon.com takes too big of a percentage, what do you think? Bad idea. Yes, we understand you will make more money selling to buyers directly, however, most people want to purchase books (or any item, for that matter) from trusted companies such as Amazon or other popular Internet sites. It is a good idea to still have book available for sale on your website, but we suggest other well known outlets as well. Tip: to entice people to buy directly from you, offer autographed copies only from your website.

2. Can you get me on Oprah? Thousands of people contact Oprah every week to get on her show. Yes, we have contacts at her magazine, radio, and television show. While publicity offers no guarantees, if we believe your book is a good fit for Oprah, we will certainly try, but you have to be realistic in terms of the odds you’re facing.

3. I want publicity to sell my books, but I don’t want to talk to the press. The best way for people to become interested in your book is to become interested in you, something you are passionate about, or the topics related to your book. This can be done in print, which may be less intimidating than a live radio or television program. Even with a little radio interview coaching, you would be amazed how easy it can be. Your “voice,” generally speaking, is essential to a campaign.

4. When should I start publicizing my book? If you are sending out galleys or advance review copies (ARCs), we recommend reaching out to book reviewers about four months before your book is published. If you are not, then we recommend beginning your campaign about a month or so before the book is available for purchase.

5. I only want national television. While national television may be an important campaign goal, it is a big mistake to turn down any reasonable media opportunity. When the media is interested in a person or project from our pitching efforts, they often research the Internet for additional information. An article in a small market newspaper can catch the attention of a national producer—and it has! While we will aggressively pursue the “home run” or “ideal” opportunities, we encourage clients to build their media portfolios with all plausible opportunities. The more exposure we generate about you, at any level, simply opens additional doors. We have seen this strategy work, time and time again.

Again, if you have any questions about your project, I invite to contact me: Sandy@SmithPublicity.com or 856-489-8654 x301.
No One Interviews a Book …

10 Surefire Radio Interview Tips for Authors

by Dan Smith

All talk radio listeners have heard them: An interview in which the guest/author utters “as I say in my book” every 10 seconds.  I’ve even heard authors recite chapter titles … every one of them! Similarly, some guests mention their website in every sentence.

There’s an adage in book publicity: No one interviews a book.  Books are not good guests. People, on the other hand, can be engaging, informative and interesting interviews. A good guest can hold the attention of a host and listeners, and sell a lot of books in the process.

Becoming a great radio guest isn’t hard, literally anyone can do it. Here are 10 tips that can make the difference between listeners changing stations during an interview and immediately ordering a book.

1. Practice the art of the “soft sell”

The “soft sell” is basically letting opportunities to plug your book come to you, naturally, within the flow and context of an interview. There’s nothing wrong with saying “as I say in my book” occasionally, or directing listeners to your website … just don’t go overboard. Remember, the vast majority of talk show hosts will gladly and freely plug your book, both during and at the conclusion of an interview. If you run into a host who doesn’t do this, then do it yourself.

2. Personalize your interview


It is amazing how much simply addressing a caller by their first name during an interview means. It shows you care, and it makes your answer personal to callers, i.e. you’re addressing their question, needs, or offering tailored feedback.  The same applies with the host of the show. Even with a “hostile” host, calling him or her by their first name makes it just a bit harder for them to be aggressive with you!

3. Be prepared, for anything


I’ve had clients call me after interviews, literally in tears. They went on the air expecting a walk in the park and instead entered a full-fire combat zone. The fact is, as sure as you may be about a show or a host’s disposition, you never, ever know how an interview will proceed. To be sure, the vast majority of interviews go exactly as hoped, with a friendly and engaging host; but trust me, this isn’t always the case.  You have to be prepared for anything. Moreover, even with a “friendly” host, you might easily get into a duel with a caller who takes issue with you. If you are prepared, you can easily handle such instances.

4. Listen to what your mom said … sit up straight


Posture counts, even in radio phone interviews. The way your voice projects directly correlates to how and where you are sitting. Sitting up straight helps create a “confident” voice and minimizes mumbling. Also, be aware of where you are sitting (or standing). Lying on your bed or your couch is not a good idea; it will create too much of a relaxed demeanor. If you have a home office, sit at your desk. This way, you’ll feel and sound more professional because of the setting. You may also try doing interviews standing. Figure out what works best for you.

5. Consider the phone you are using


This is a simple tip: Avoid using cordless phones, try to never use a cell phone, and if at all possible, use and old fashioned landline. Cordless phones can create static, cell phones create a host of potential problems, but landlines rarely fail you.

6. Short answers often say more than long ones


Most of us have a natural tendency to be a little longwinded when discussing a topic near and dear to our hearts. The problem is, time is a valuable commodity on radio, and going too long with answers often makes it difficult for multi-tasking listeners to follow along. Keep your answers short, yet complete.  Practice answering common or likely questions succinctly.

7. Mumbling, the interview killer


I don’t think I’m alone with a bad habit I have: When speaking to a group of people, I have to consciously avoid having my sentences trail off at the end into mumbling. Likewise, I have to consciously try and keep the volume of my voice consistent. Practice speaking, record yourself, and you might see what I mean. Simple answer: Know your speaking tendencies, and address the ones which don’t work to your benefit.

8. Know the show


If at all possible, listen to the show you are going to be on to learn the personality of the host and theme of the show. Usually, you can go online and listen live in advance of your interview, or go to a station or host’s website and find archives of old shows.  Knowing what to expect can make all the difference.

9. Listen to veteran talk show guests


First, if you’re doing radio interviews, you should listen to talk radio, period.  Even more importantly, listen to interviews with some very well known authors or guest. Listen to how they let the interview come to them, how they get promotion for their book or themselves without being overbearing. Then, copy their style, while still maintaining your unique personality.

10. Practice


One of my favorite things, as a publicist, is to conduct mock interviews with my clients.  I enjoy throwing “curveball” ball questions because I can see how helpful it is for them; they almost instantly learn how to handle themselves. Likewise, I offer plenty of “softball” questions to help them learn how to hit the ball out of the park with great answers! Have a friend or family do a mock interview with you. Because 99% of the interviews you do will likely be “phoners,” make sure the mock interview is done over the phone. You’ll find it incredibly helpful, and fun!

Radio interviews should be a staple of most promotional campaigns.  They are remarkably convenient because no travel is involved, and even a busy author can easily do five or more a week. As in any facet of promotion via the media, remember the process is absolutely a “you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours” deal.  Every talk show has air time to fill.

As always, enjoy yourself, and relish every minute of the wonderful experience of entertaining or educating thousands and thousands of people!

Dan Smith is the president of TCI-Smith publicity, a full service book promotion and public relations agency with offices in New Jersey, New York, and London. He has personally conducted more than 250 promotional campaigns. Clients of TCI-Smith Publicity have appeared on virtually every major radio and television show, and been featured in top publications across the country.

About Smith Publicity

Beginning in 1997, TCI-Smith Publicity has evolved from a one-person operation run from a bedroom office to one of the nation’s leading promotional firms. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, we’ve worked with over 400 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and business representing a wide range of industries.

The TCI-Smith Publicity reach is international; we’ve effectively worked with clients throughout the United States and Canada, and countries from the U.K. and Australia to Israel and Malta. We now have offices in New Jersey, New York City, and London.

While our expansion from boutique publicity agency to a multi-faceted public relations and creative communications firm has greatly expanded the breadth of our services, the fundamental driving force behind everything we do is superior presentation, promotion, and positioning of our clients. Our refrain, “make good things happen for clients,” has propelled TCI-Smith Publicity from just-another-agency to a premier promotional firm offering outstanding, cost-effective service with unparalleled customer attention.

If you are interested in receiving a proposal for your project, please contact Sandy Diaz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sandy@smithpublicity.com, www.smithpublicity.com or 856-489-8654 x301.

Contact information:

TCI-Smith Publicity
856.489.8654 ext 301