My first book is almost a reality. In fact, a box could show up on my doorstep any day.
This stage of the process is humbling because I have to rely on busy people to read and help promote my book. At this point, I reminded myself that I’m not only working to promote myself, but I’m also working for the publisher who put so much faith into my project. That makes it a little easier to do the asking.
Two weeks ago, my publisher’s marketing gal, Cat, asked me make a list of all the media people and influencers who would read and promote my book. Media people? I only know the PR guy at Focus on the Family and a baseball sports announcer.
Cat said media and influencers can be anyone who has a large audience. That means bloggers, authors, and speakers. With that being the case, it turns out I know a lot of influencer and media peeps. So, I collected names and addresses and passed them on to my publisher. Now hard copies are on the way to their doorsteps, too.
So what have I learned that I can share with you? Authors shouldn’t just ask for help from friends. They should ask for help from strangers, and big-time famous people.
You will be amazed at who says yes (and who says no). When I put out the word, I had some interesting responses: Some of my friends said they were too busy but if I passed along a copy, they’d try to get to it. Another friend hasn’t responded at all. Conversely, famous people I never thought I’d hear back from said, “Sure, I’d be honored.” Others went above and beyond: “You bet, and why don’t you let me put your book in a giveaway at my retreat and I’ll write a special feature about you” or “Hey, I’ll mention you at this event.”
Even strangers can have a powerful impact on your sales. I read a few articles that said if you can find top reviewers from Amazon to read and review your book, it can boost your sales. Finding someone within the top 500 is considered a coup. So yesterday I sent out four inquiries to reviewers who are interested in my genre. Two top-50 reviewers responded, “Sure, send the book.”
Feel free to read the articles about Amazon Top Reviewers here:
Many of us creative types wish to not be bothered with anything but our craft, especially when a deadline is approaching. But as your electric company has probably conveyed to you, creative types aren’t exempt from pesky little tasks like paying bills, and the IRS doesn’t excuse us from keeping up with our receipts and paperwork either. Much the same, our publishers need their right-brained authors to tap into that left hemisphere on occasion.
Last week, my co-author/mom and I worked on our publisher’s Advanced Sales and Marketing Information (ASMI), which included compiling a list of influencers that should receive a copy of the book. Our book deadline is still three months away and it won’t be on the shelves for another year. As a newbie author I didn’t know to plan for this project and my experienced co-author was surprised at how early it was being requested. It seems we authors have driven our publishers to request the information earlier and earlier.
If you’ve thought ahead and kept good records, the gathering of information will not be a big deal. Then, you can focus on the fun part of the ASMI, the description of your book, the key takeaways, the reason you’re writing it and so on. If you haven’t kept good records, though, you will likely spend days tracking down addresses and contacts, finding the best full service moving rates at http://www.fullservicemovers.biz/ and racking your brain to remember the name of the church where you spoke in the Fall of 2005 and what the call letters are for that radio station in Milwaukee that interviewed you last spring.
Don’t be surprised when you are frantically trying to meet your deadline and your publisher says, “Oh, by the way, we need the following in three weeks.”
A list of names, professional titles, and addresses of 50 influential people who can be counted on to help promote your book.
As someone who has done this legwork for self-published authors, I can say that you really want to take advantage of this offer. It’s a lot of work and expensive to package and mail 50 or more books. Your publisher is offering, but you need the connections and their contact information. In the day of email and Facebook, unless you run a business, it’s rare to exchange physical addresses. I suggest, as you meet potential influencers, to tell them you are writing a book and would love their address so you can have a copy sent to them when it comes out (you don’t have to have a contract to use this line). When you get an address, quickly add it to your online contact database and tag the person as a potential influencer. Excel is an excellent and easy place to track contacts. Here’s a sample contact form you’re welcome to use.
A list of prominent people from whom we should request an endorsement.
If you are lucky or have put in the time to network with other authors or experts in your field, you might know a few prominent people who would gladly write an endorsement for you. Even if you don’t know a person, if they would be a perfect endorser for your book and you can get their address, include them. You may be surprised who will say yes. One of my self-publishing clients requested an endorsement from Olivia-Newton John on her book Alphatudes: the Alphabet of Gratitude. Instead of an endorsement, Olivia ended up offering a free download of her song “Grace and Gratitude” with the purchase of the book. Start a contact record for any potential endorser now or when you are researching competition for your proposal. Those “competitors” may be perfect people to ask.
A list of media you think should receive a copy of the book.
Your publisher will have a set of media contacts that they already plan to send your book to, but you can’t rely on them to know every local or topic-specific outlet. The great news is they will ask you for your input on this, since you know your topic best. As you come across media outlets (blogs, magazines, newspapers, television shows) that would be perfect for your book, put their mailing information in your database.
A list of your previous media and speaking history.
For some, this may be a short and easy list. My writing and speaking career is just getting started, so I I’ve had very few media and speaking appearances, and even still, I almost forgot some of the details I needed.
My mom, on the other hand, has been writing and speaking for almost two decades. Try remembering 20 years of speaking engagements and interviews for 40+ books. My suggestion is to keep one ongoing spreadsheet for speeches and one for media. Every time you finish an interview or publish an article, write down all the details. The name of your contact person, the host’s name, the topic, the date, etc. Put contact information in your contact database, though, not on these forms, so you only have to keep one record updated. Here are sample Speech and Media History forms you are free to use.