Thank you for your interest in Smith Publicity, Inc. Here is our latest Power Publicity Tips newsletter. In this issue:
- Can You Get Me on Oprah?
- May’s Top Five Publicity Tips
If you do attend, plan on visiting Smith Publicity! We’re at booth 2976. Contact us if you’d like to set up a time to discuss your project: firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-489-8654 x301.
Book Expo America is held in New York City, May 29-31. Visit www.bookexpoamerica.com
Can You Get Me on Oprah?
by Dan Smith
As publicists, the number one question we get is: “Can you get me on Oprah?” Or, clients give us a declarative statement: “The only thing I want is to get on Oprah!”
Here are some insights on the “Big O” which might help put the Queen of all Media in perspective as it relates to book promotion.
Oprah certainly is the gold standard of book publicity; an appearance on her show can indeed make a book an overnight sensation and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Her stamp of approval can instantly take an author to the major leagues. Her power is undeniable.
But … Oprah also creates some problems in the book publicity world, and at times, has actually prompted authors to make awful promotional decisions. Authors with books that might be a good fit for her show, or people who have expertise in topics she covers should always try to get on the show. The only way people get on her show is because they try. You will have no shot if you don’t take a shot. However, authors can develop an obsession with Oprah, and fixate on appearing on her show to the detriment of their promotional campaign.
The stark reality: The odds of getting on the Oprah show are akin to playing the lottery. Even if your book is a perfect fit the show, her producers (and she has dozens of them) receive hundreds and hundreds, perhaps even thousands of books each and every week. The producers also receive at least 100 pitches from publicists and authors every day, and I’m talking each producer. Some great books, undoubtedly, get lost in the piles and just never get seen. Others are put aside due to bad timing, such as a show recently taped on a similar subject.
As publicists, we engage in a structured and persistent follow-up program to producers, but this only slightly increases the odds.
Putting all of your promotional eggs in the Oprah basket is simply a bad decision. And believe me, we’ve had authors who have done this.
The ‘Oprah Effect’ spills over in various negative ways. Some examples of things we’ve heard from authors:
- “Getting all types of other publicity is fine, but my book is only going to really sell if I get on Oprah.”
- “I will pay you $100,000 if you get me on Oprah.”
- “I want to UPS myself to the Oprah producers in a box with some air holes”
- “Can you get me her address, I want to camp outside her home.”
- “I want to put a billboard up in Chicago with a message for her.”
I could go on and on with examples. While many of these are funny, they drive home the point I’m trying to make: Oprah is something you should try to get on, but understand the odds and appreciate the full spectrum of book publicity. There are tens of thousands of media outlets out there, and you have the potential to achieve great success without Oprah.
Also, keep in mind that not every book is right for Oprah. If you watch the show, take note of the types of authors and experts she has on.
So … if you and your book could make a good fit for her show, go for it! But look at the big picture, and fight against being lured into obsession.
This Issue’s Top 5 Power Publicity Tips
1. Go old school, and actually utilize the good old USPS to reach out to media. In a time when the vast majority of business communication is e-mail, think how refreshing–and attention-grabbing–to actually mail a press release and pitch letter to a producer or editor. The receive so few mailed press releases, chances are they’ll open it and actually read it!
2. When sending a book, fold the press release with the type showing out when you insert it with the book. This may sound a bit odd, but mailing experts will tell you it makes a substantial difference in terms of getting something read.
3. Send your book via FedEx or UPS for overnight delivery. This does two things: 1) the recipient may believe that since its been over-nighted, they probably requested it, and 2) something sent overnight gives it a clear sense of being important.
4. Never use Amazon.com reviews in your promotional pieces. Everyone knows that anyone can post a review on Amazon; consequently, such reviews have no impact at all. The only exception to this is media outlets or legitimate and recognized reviewers post their review.
5. Set realistic expectation for book sales, and how fast they will happen. Of course, every author wants to sell books, preferably millions. Especially for first-time authors, realize that you need to be in the publicity game for the long haul, and that it takes time to create that all important buzz which typically translates into sales. If you stick with it, whether on your own or with an agency, chances are good you’ll see some decent sales numbers.
Beginning in 1997, 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 600 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and business representing a wide range of industries.The 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, Los Angeles 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 Smith Publicity from just-another-agency to a premier promotional firm offering outstanding, cost-effective service with unparalleled customer attention.
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