Power Book Publicity Tips May 2014

Five Things to Do Before You Submit Your Proposal or Book to a Publisher

by Debra Englander, freelance editor, writer and author coach

The changes in the publishing industry have lead to new and varied options for authors who want their works available via traditional publishers, e-platforms, hybrid publishers and self-publishers.

Of course, the appeal of traditional publishers remains strong and many authors return to these companies after they have self-published one or more titles. Having a completed book and a sales history can be advantageous in getting a literary agent’s attention or consideration by an editor. However, simply having a self-published book doesn’t guarantee acceptance by another publisher or agent.

The book business still has rules and if you follow the rules, your chances for success are greater. Having worked on all sides of the publishing world:  as an editor acquiring business books at a large publisher, a freelance writer, author coach and polishing many, many book proposals – I know what works.  Here’s my guide to the five strategies that will increase the odds your proposal or book will get noticed – in a positive way.

 1.    Do your homework

It sounds obvious but too many people just “wing it” when they submit a project. Virtually every publisher and agent has a website listing submission guidelines. Use this information. The guidelines specify whether you should send a query or the entire proposal.  Areas of interest are usually spelled out. You may believe your novel is as compelling as Gone With the Wind but sending it to an agent who doesn’t handle fiction is a waste.  If a publisher includes a questionnaire, fill it out. You may have already spent time and effort following other proposal guidelines but editors want certain details in a particular format. Provide your material in the format the agent or publisher wants. Why? Well, if you can’t follow basic submission instructions, an editor or agent may think you won’t listen to editorial suggestions or other substantive advice. If you have a referral to an agent – say you met the agent at a writer’s conference – put that information in the subject line of the email. Then in your email, briefly remind the person that you spoke to him or her and you discussed….

 2.    Be honest

You printed 500 copies of your book and you have distributed all of them. That’s great…so wouldn’t Random House or Simon & Schuster want to publish your book? Of those 500 copies, how many books were sold? How many did you give away to family, friends and clients? Were your books priced at $1.99? There’s a huge difference between sales success for a self-published title and a book from a traditional publisher.

 It’s easy for publishers to check sales figures, so don’t try to exaggerate them. If you chose Print-on-Demand (POD) as a way to get your book out quickly or test the market, say so in your proposal. If you are an active speaker and give the book out, so you haven’t focused on getting buyers to purchase it online, say that as well.  In your pitch to find an agent or secure a publisher, say how long your book has been available for purchase and in what channels it has sold. You should also state whether the book has sold only in the U.S. and in what formats (i.e. hardcover, paperback, e-book, etc.). If your book has been wildly successful and its sales ranking online has been strong, that can certainly help you. Conversely, some publishers may not want to acquire a self-published title that has already sold well. They may think you have already reached your core readership.

 3.    Never claim there is no competition

If I had a dollar for every time an author says this, I’d be sitting at the beach in Hawaii! Seriously! Every book is unique but if you’re trying to persuade agents or publishers that your work deserves a larger readership, then you need to show that there is real interest in the subject of your book. Virtually every book has some competition and it is incredibly easy to find similar or related titles on Amazon or other sites. Amazon is particularly easy as a reference tool because you can “search inside” most books.  You should include at least four to six competitive titles in your proposal. For each one, write a short paragraph on how your book differs from these titles or what the shortcomings are of the other books. Perhaps the books are old and don’t cover the most recent practices or the books were written for a more academic audience and your book is for the general reader.  Distinguish your book from the related titles without saying that yours is the “latest and greatest.”

 4.    Promotion and publicity/author platform is the most important part of your pitch

You may think a traditional publisher guarantees your book will receive extensive publicity or marketing support. Unfortunately, this is a major misconception.  For the most part, you will have to do your own publicity and marketing regardless of the size of the publisher, unless you have such a unique book that a publisher builds a campaign around you. But that’s the exception, not the norm.

In your proposal, never say, “At book launch, I will do the following….” That sentence means that you haven’t thought about publicity or marketing and starting a campaign at book publication is too late. Your platform building should be going on while you’re still writing the book. In describing your platform, be very specific. If you have an e-newsletter, say how many subscribers you have and whether they pay for the publication. If you blog, discuss the number of unique visitors or whether the blog is picked up by other sites.  Don’t say that you speak frequently. Include a calendar of your speaking engagements for the past six months and upcoming six months, by venue and number of attendees.

 5.    Know why you want to write a book

Give some thought to why you want your book published. Marketing and selling a book takes time, effort and resources.  Instead of saying, “I want to write a book,” think about how you will use the book in relation to your job or your business.  Develop a plan for how you’re going to sell it (whether you’re publishing on your own or working with a publisher) and why you need a book. Occasionally, people step back and spend time developing their platform, creating a website or launching a blog, and postpone publication of a book until their platform is stronger.

Debra W. Englander is a freelance editor, writer and author coach. Formerly editorial director at John Wiley, she has also written for magazines, newspapers and has ghosted several non-fiction titles. She can be reached at d_englander@yahoo.com.


Social Media Tips and Tricks for Authors

by Brittney Karpovich, Smith Publicity Marketing/Social Media Strategist

Social media, to put it mildly, can be tricky. It is a strange pseudo-world of social interaction with complete strangers, but it can be pivotal to helping build your author brand. Social media has exploded in popularity in recent years, offering more and more platforms from which authors can choose.

The big players in social media right now are Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook. Using these sites, you can allow potential fans to learn more about you. No matter what platform you decide to use, the rules are similar.

 Here are some things to keep in mind:

Remember, social media is not only about your book, it’s about building your author brand and allowing your fans to get to know you.

Yes, people may be interested in your book but they will also be interested in you—the author. People inherently want to connect with other people, and you need to connect with your fans. Post and write about your likes and interests.  If they can be tied into the book, that’s a bonus! Don’t ever use social media to pressure people into buying your book. Instead, try to find current events and other interesting articles that relate to your book—this is the best way to get a plug for your book out there without coming off like a used-car salesman.

It takes time to grow your social media following—it will not happen overnight.

When starting your new social media profile you won’t have any fans or followers … but that’s OK! Just be honest and let people know this is your first attempt at social media by posting something “new” in your profile. Keep working on your profile. By putting in the time, you will see the return on your investment.

Find topics and discussions to post that will set you apart from everyone else.

Always look at personal and industry blogs pertaining to your book topic. Then, take what other people are saying and put your own spin on it. By posting something different, people will notice and want to follow what you have to say. No one wants to read the same thing over and over again. For example, if your book is about politics, be on the look out for different political news and try to “break” political news on your social media. Make people want to follow you by having your posts be factual and valuable.

There is a balance between posting too much and posting too little—find it.

Too many posts on your sites can be overwhelming and turn people away. If you are constantly posting, you can be seen as annoying and not informative. If you are not posting enough, people will forget about you. Also, keep in mind that social media sites are just like big search engines. Use key interest phrases and keywords related to your book so people searching for what you write about can find you.


Smith Publicity Exhibiting at Book Expo America 2014

Authors, publishers and industry professionals … come visit Smith Publicity at BookExpo America 2014–held in the Javits Center in NYC, May 28 to 31. We’re always happy to answer any questions about book marketing, publicity and promotion. It’s our 12th year exhibiting and we are excited to see old friends and make new ones!

If you would like to make an appointment for a meeting, email Corinne Liccketto at Corinne@SmithPublicity.com

For more information about attending, click here: BookExpo America.


Congratulations to Smith Publicity’s first college scholarship winner!

Smith Publicity offered high school seniors and college students a chance to win a $1,000 college scholarship by submitting an essay explaining the importance of persuasive writing. Many answered the call but one stood out above the rest. Congratulations to Kelci Weidenaar, our very first Smith Publicity scholarship winner!

Kelci will be a freshman at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, MO, this fall.

“I truly love writing and it meant a lot to me to win this scholarship from an organization like Smith Publicity! It’s opportunities like this that are helping my educational dreams come true!” said Weidenaar.

Kelci lives in Missouri, but grew up in Athens, Greece. Visit her lively blog on all things hopeful and inspired at: kelcidenaar.com.

 We wish Kelci the best of luck in her future endeavors and welcome students to participate in our next scholarship essay competition.


Display Your Book at Book Expo America 2014

Showcase your book at Book Expo America (BEA) 2014–held in the Javits Center in NYC, May 28 to 31. At BEA you will have the chance to have your book showcased in front of more than 20,000 “verified” book industry professionals for four days—from agents, book buyers to librarians and reviewers.

Registration EXTENDED deadline: May 8, 2014.

BookExpo America – New Title Showcase

The New Title Showcase remains a very accessible and valuable way to have your book prominently displayed through Combined Book Exhibit. The $250 fee includes display of one book and a listing in Combined Book Exhibit’s exclusive catalog. It’s a cost-effective way to get your book in front of the publishing industry!

For more information about having your book displayed through Smith Publicity’s partnership with Combined Book Exhibit at a reduced rate, visit our frequently asked questions page.

To register, send an email to cbe@smithpublicity.com or call (856) 489-8654 x306.

Be sure to check out more information about Book Expo America.