How to Make Your Book Event Stand Out!

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author on a book tour or just doing a regular book event, it’s important no matter where the book signing or talk is held that you ensure you contribute to the success of the signing. In other words, your job is to do more than show up! The critical word to remember is promote, promote, promote!

Marketing your book through events, talks and book signings is still an incredible way to reach new readers. As more and more people become creative about the events and where they are held, it still is important to remember that the audience wants you to be entertaining, energetic and inspiring. Keep in mind that no matter how many people show up, you need to enjoy the event and be accessible. As Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series® always says, “no matter if 10 people or 100 people show up, you’re there to entertain them!”

Here are TEN valuable tips for ensuring you’re part of a successful event:

1. If you are the person booking your own bookstore event, book at least 6-8 weeks out to assume the most time for you and the venue to promote your event. Research your event prior to attending it, and arrive early in order to get a feel for the store and its patrons.

2. Make sure you know what area is set up for your presentation and that you’re comfortable with the area and where the audience will be sitting.

3. Take some extra press kits about your book with you – just in case there is an opportunity to give those to a media person or someone else who requests them for follow-up. Also bring along at least one of your speaker press kit in case someone at the signing comes up to you after your talk and is interested in you giving a large speech for her or his organization or business. Always make sure to ask for his or her business card as well so you can follow up.

4. Remember book signings are held to benefit the store and help drive sales. The more people who come to listen to your talk – the more valuable your event will be. Make sure that you ask the store to post the event in their newsletter, online at all their social media networks and be certain to have the event listed in the local media’s calendar listing sections. List the event on your website and Facebook page too.

5. Make a poster (PDF’s look especially professional) announcing the event, make copies, and send them to the bookstore so they can distribute to their customers for several weeks before your event.

6. Send a press release to appropriate local media and appropriate targeted businesses and associations announcing your upcoming event or make certain your publicist is doing so, starting at least four weeks before the date of your event.

7. Make sure that you have a prepared presentation and talk, about 20-30 minutes. Try to have two or three different talks that work depending on the audience (discuss what topic would be appropriate with the event coordinator). Be interesting, fun and entertaining, not bland and just informative. Make sure to tell stories during your talk because it will keep your audience focused on what you are saying and listening attentively. Do not book events where you just sit behind a table and wait for people to walk by and sign books.

8. Don’t be stand-offish to the audience or to the bookstore event managers – they are there to support and help your event be successful. You are really there to smooze the staff so they will remember your book and hand-sell it for months after you have left the store!

9. Leave plenty of time at the end of your talk for audience questions, at least 15-20 minutes.

10. Always give out your website, your blog address, your Twitter ID and your Facebook address at least a couple times during the event.

After the event—-always follow up:

1. Send a personalized hand written thank you note to the event coordinator.

2. Ask for her or his honest feedback on your event, including a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the feedback comments (or wonderfully written testimonial that you can use to pitch more events!)

3. Ask to schedule another event in a few months or to be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event.)

4. Keep in contact with the event coordinator or assistant manager or store manager by visiting in person once every 6-8 weeks or so or by calling or emailing. This keeps your name and the name of your book in front of these salespeople often.

5. And lastly, send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event and how wonderfully you were taken care of by their staff. This is rarely done and they will remember you and again, your book!

An extra gesture that the events will remember long after you’ve gone is to bring a little gift for the event coordinator as a special thank you for hosting you. Little things make a big difference for authors at book signings and events.

Keep your humor intact and remember to relax and enjoy the evening!

Why Even NYTimes Bestselling Authors Blog About News As It’s Happening and How You Can Too!

By Peg Booth

It’s very important in these days of 24/7 news stories that an author stand ready and able at any given time to speak as an expert on a breaking news story in his or her area of expertise.

A good publicist should be constantly pitching you to news media and their associated producers. Pitching you means not just trying to get them to feature your book (in fact, if that’s all they’re doing for you – then you might want to encourage them to do more); the best pitching really involves making immediate and exciting connections between you and your expertise and anything going on in the news in the moment.

If you don’t have a PR firm representing you, keep in mind that you do have the power of the Web and your keyboard. You can actively track the news with Google alerts – www.google.com/alerts , and those are delivered right to your inbox. These days, there are many apps and sites that track mentions of you in social media, as well. If you have a blog, then you can immediately post a response to a certain news story and help set yourself up as an expert. Make sure you link to the original story in your post. You can also forward those to your publicist and make sure she’s pitching to that journalist.

Working in collaboration with your PR firm will bring you even better results. For instance, if you’re a novelist and your book was a thinly veiled expose’ on how the big department stores were failing (as one of our clients’ books did) and you’ve done your research, then you could speak on some of the bigger economic challenges the department stores are facing because of the online shopping surge in the past ten years.

If you think as an author that you shouldn’t have to be working this hard to promote yourself and your book if you already have a PR firm – think again!

Even New York Times bestselling book authors like our client John Perkins – http://www.johnperkins.org , pro-actively responds to breaking news on an almost daily basis through his Twitter – @economic_hitman and his Facebook page. When these posts are created, we use links to them in pitching John to news media offline and online.

Keep in mind that no matter what, you have the opportunity to be an expert in your field! Timing can be everything, so keep an eye on the news.

Here are 3 tips for taking your media savvy to the next level:

1. Make yourself known to reporters in your home region – email them to let them know about your expertise and let them know you would be happy to be called upon if there was an urgent breaking story that pertains to your expertise and/or topics in your book.

2. Follow the news through Google alerts and use Twitter as another form of gathering daily news. Follow and then look through the Breaking news on Twitter – http://twitter.com/BREAKINGNEWS and use it to keep on top of the latest news.

3. Rejuvenate your media pitches and areas of expertise constantly. Get the latest statistics on your topics! For instance, did you know that in 2014, just under 70% of Americans get their news through online sources instead of print? Statistics aid in keeping your expertise at the top of your game!

Here’s to your ongoing media success!!

How to Get the Media’s Attention

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author, whether you are working with a publicist or not, it’s very important to keep in mind that part of your success is being able to answer the who, what, why, when and how for the media and its listener base.

We’re all curious about the latest trends, breaking news, innovations, interesting and unique people or products – and the media is exactly the same way. Imagine creating a new trend with your book or ideas. Imagine giving the media a brand new angle for coverage of a saturated topic.

Creativity is key to providing the unique news-hook for your book or your platform so that the media wants to feature you. Authors must think about how their book applies to the hot issues of the day – it’s a constant and ever-changing focus. One of the basic questions to ask is, “Is my story relatable? Does my story tap into something that people are worried about or an issue that might be controversial?”

For instance, some very prevalent issues as I write this column are the environment, the economy, civil unrest and war in parts of the world, the family crisis in terms of parenting and stresses on family, diets and healthful living. Each day a new opportunity presents itself to pitch your story forward in a meaningful and news-worthy fashion.

Think how you can be part of the news discussion almost in real-time, as it is happening. Don’t discount your opinion and how it might be valuable to many other associated topic interviews beyond your book.
Whether it’s hard-hitting news interviews or feature pieces, the key for you is to be able to successfully tie-in these larger issues to your book or your platform, and speak effectively on those when you are tapped by the media.

Reporters and media need credible sources, and you are the best possible source for them as long as you’re well-versed in your topic area and you are armed with verifiable facts.

The media is counting on you to be the expert, to elevate the discussion and help everyone progress to a deeper understanding of the topic or subject manner. If you think of several different angles for the story, this will help you in creating something unique from your expert perspective.

Asking questions is crucial to this practice. Who is important in this story? How will my interview impact the listeners, and why should they absolutely be listening? How can I effect change in their lives through this interview?

The media aims to establish significance of any story for their listener base, and they rely on their guests to help them do that. The more a news story applies to current events and topics, or is relevant to the listener community at large, the more opportunity and success you’ll have to be a featured expert.

It’s Never Too Late for A Boost of PR

By Peg Booth

In this competitive book arena, both online and offline, it’s still very important to empower your book’s visibility with PR outreach. The good news is that every book has a reader; in fact, with the Web’s reach, many books are finding new readers daily even if they’ve been out for awhile. But it’s not enough to coast along with your book’s profile on Amazon and do nothing, not if you want to increase book sales. This is where PR comes in.

There are a few things that you can and should do to give your book every chance for success. Every author needs to have a website or a blogsite so that readers can easily find you and find out more about your book. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be visible in the online world. Having a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, even a Google+ presence can dramatically help people get to know you and your book. People are now searching for experts and authors on Facebook almost as often as they are on Google. As Facebook continues empowering its search capabilities, that number will continue to grow. Having a clean, professional looking website for people who find you on social media can be the difference between making a fan, and getting nothing.

The power of the Internet is that online you also have the book bloggers to reach out to for good PR and reviews. Whether you use a full-service media agency or plan your own blogging campaign, the book bloggers are important and should be respected as any other offline media person. As we look at print publications slowly moving more and more of their editorial content online, you might have the best of both worlds with hybrid reviews that are featured online and offline all in one.

Keeping your book at the forefront of the current news and happenings will give you additional and empowering ways to highlight your book and your ideas. Always look for the news hook as you make your way toward success, and keep your PR firm in the loop with your ideas. After all, you’re the expert on your book; your ideas are what your audience wants to hear.

In PR there is a saying, “Pitch new and often.” What that really means is that you always want to find new ways of pitching ideas and you want to continue to pitch no matter how many “no’s” you might receive.
In the midst of pitching your book as many different ways as you and your PR professional can come up with, it is vital to maintain a fresh, vibrant online presence through your website and your social media profiles.

So even if your book is months past its publication date, by using all of these tools, you and your PR team can improve visibility and sales. It’s never too late.

6 Tips for Successful Media Interviews

By Peg Booth

No matter whether you’re on your first media interview or you feel you’re a seasoned professional, there are always good tips to remember when being interviewed, and these six are a few of our favorites.

Simply being able to complete a media interview is not the only goal. With practice you can also become a powerful spokesperson for your book and your thought leadership in your professional field.

Here are six tips to ensure you’re doing the best interviews possible. Whether television or radio – you’ll hit it out of the park every time!

Tip #1: Focus – Treat every media interview as an opportunity to speak directly to your target audience. It’s good to understand the audience base of the radio or TV show, but always keep your focus on who your target is within that audience.

Tip #2: Facts – Always have some statistics that can underline your topic. For instance, if you’re speaking on Obamacare, the situation in Crimea, or “Conscious Uncoupling,” then make sure you not only have sound bites from your book but also from the latest news about the event or subject.

Tip #3: Flexibility and Preparation – Often interviewers will ask a question that is off topic from your subject but will still relate to news of the day. One of the things you can do in order to give yourself a bit more time to answer this type of question is to say, “That’s a really good question..,” and then pause for a moment. Thinking on your feet is incredibly important and valuable in live radio shows.

Tip #4: K.I.S.S. “Keep It Simple, Stupid” – Less is more, and simple is better! Make sure when you’re being interviewed that you keep a lively tone and that you create space for back and forth dialogue. Answer in 1 or 2 sentences, not long paragraphs. Don’t sound too sound-bite rehearsed. Keep it conversational.

Tip #5: Takeaways – Make sure you have some words and phrases that specifically identify you and your brand or your book. These help differentiate you from other interviewees and provide great quotable soundbites that the media will repeat. Tell the media and the audience what you want them to remember!

Tip #6: Bridges – Be ready to bridge back to your topic no matter what kind of question the media throws at you. Have a little set of phrases ready to go, such as:
• “Before I answer that, let me point out…”
• “That question ties in with another point I’d like to make…”
• “…but what is most important is…”
• “…but what I’d really like to point out is…”

BONUS TIP: Media love to repeat great words or new terms – think of a term like “gamechanger” and how it was used over and over during the presidential election. See what terms you can come up with for your specific topic that are new and catchy.

Finally, to have success always know what you want to accomplish during the interview and have your 2-3 talking points ready. Be confident! You are the expert, after all.

5 PR Myths You Must Not Believe

By Peg Booth
Founder of Booth Media Group

There are many benefits to using public relations to empower your book’s profile both off and on the web. It is up to you as well as your PR firm to collaborate on your media efforts in order to ensure the best possible messaging and pickup. A good PR firm does not ever employ a one-size fits all PR strategy and it’s very important that an author get rid of the five PR myths below right from the beginning.

Myth #1: PR is the same as advertising.
– Advertising is a bought message, it involves paid placement and a very sales-focused message. PR campaigns are consistently fluid and dynamic and involve working with news and print media to successfully communicate the best possible news tie-ins, information and news hooks in relation to the book’s topic.

Myth #2: To get significant PR coverage all you need is a press release.
– Nothing could be further from the truth. A press release is just one part of reaching out to the media. More significant aspects to PR are the follow-up calls and news hook tie-ins that your publicist is pitching to show producers and editors daily.

Myth #3: It’s easy to get booked on television or radio shows, all my PR firm has to do is just pick up the phone and make one call.
– Getting an author booked on a major show can take hours of pitching and positioning the client as a perfect guest for the show. The media receives literally thousands of pitches a day through email, phone, and by mail. The really popular shows receive up to 500+ press kits or press releases a week.

Myth #4: PR placements should happen quickly.
– It’s vital to understand that PR is a long process of creating a relevant story pitch the media wants and needs to cover. PR is a long-term process of developing relationships, not a short-term pitching effort. It can take several months for pitches to reach their fullest efficacy and get a journalist’s attention.

Myth #5: PR is about pitching the book.
– It’s about pitching the news hook. Every pitch to producers should have a hook to a news story. A dramatic hook. A game-changing hook. A new way of looking at things as never before.

In our fifteen-year history of pitching clients like John Perkins, Greg Palast, Annette Sym, Bernie Siegel, Ken Blanchard and others we’ve also discovered a couple other tips directly from producers we’ve worked with. Here are our favorites:

TIP 1: Don’t pretend you know the producer. Don’t establish casual familiarity when there is none. Don’t pretend as though the producer knows you personally and will therefore approve your pitch. And don’t take advantage of relationships you may have with producers, even ones that date back years, by pitching everything and the bath water to them.

TIP 2: Keep your pitches as succinct as possible. Get it down to 30 seconds. Too often people think pitches need to be lengthy and cover every possible aspect of the book or author’s expertise. If you’re one of them, you might be surprised to find that producers think you’re wasting too much of their valuable time. A producer or writer will love it when you get to the point in the first sentence of your call or very first paragraph of your short email.

Happy Holidays!

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

This has certainly been a crazy year! With so much going on in the news and the world, it can sometimes feel like the sky is falling. In the midst of the chaos of not only the trials and tribulations but also the successes and achievements that we experience each day, we can all too easily lose sight of what really matters.

During the holidays this year, it is important to realize that regardless of the size of the whirlwind of news, media, and responsibilities that seems to accost us on every side, nothing can be more important than family and valued relationships.

Those who are near to us emotionally, despite barriers of distance and time, are the ones who bring meaning to the rest of our life’s activities. They support us when we chase our dreams, they help us when we fall, and they inspire us to reach for higher goals. Sometimes we might neglect to let them know how precious they really are, but we don’t have to wait another moment!

Though our family and friends are important to us throughout the year, the holidays are a great chance to reconnect, reevaluate, and renew. Seek to mend those relationships might be strained, and deepen and develop the friendships that are already strong. Send a special card to someone with whom we’ve lost touch (or better, yet, pick up the phone and call!) Drop by to see an elderly friend or relative with holiday cookies and love. Share a little cheer with a stranger by smiling as we wait in line. Reach out to our community by donating our time or resources to a local shelter or soup kitchen.

In showering those around us with love, forgiveness, grace, and gratitude, we will not only enrich their lives, but will be rewarded ourselves. This is one of the true meanings of this season; let us embrace it today and take it with us into the New Year.

2013

Ten Ways to Make Peace During Family Celebrations

Guest Post by Laura Davis, author of the book I Thought We’d Never Speak Again.

Being estranged from people in our families can make holidays and family gatherings events we dread, rather than times of joy and celebration. For instance:

  •  You’re not speaking to your mother-or your child- and mother’s day is right around the corner
  •  You’ve been avoiding your father for months and you’re expected to show up for dinner on father’s day
  •  Your sister is getting married and you’re going to have to sit with your older brother who you haven’t spoken to in years
  •  You’re dreading Thanksgiving at your sister’s house because of your loud-mouthed brother-in-law
  •  You want to enjoy yourself at your daughter’s wedding despite the fact that your ex-husband will be there

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, here are 10 ways to make things easier:

1. Acknowledge the things about the other person that you once loved and genuinely miss. All of us have good and bad qualities. Focus on the parts of the other person you can still appreciate and enjoy.

2. Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. When we see things through the other person’s eyes, rather than our own, understanding and communication increase dramatically.

3. Don’t let pride get in your way. Wanting to be “right” and needing to blame the other person are two of the biggest obstacles to reconciliation.

4. Know where to draw the line. If you know you won’t allow yourself to be treated badly, it’s easier to open the door to reconciliation.

5. Be willing to take the first step. It doesn’t matter whose “turn” it is. If you want to make peace with someone, find the courage to reach out and begin the healing process.

6. Fear doesn’t have to stop you. Risk and reconciliation go hand in hand. Even if you’re scared and shaking, you can still pick up the phone. Whether or not the other person steps up to the plate, you’ll be a better person for having attempted reconciliation.

7. Focus on what you have in common. Rather than focusing on the past, concentrate on what you can share now: spending time with grandchildren, going to a sporting event, participating in a hobby you both enjoy.

8. Be realistic, but stay open for a miracle. Expecting someone to have a personality change inevitably leads to disappointment. Figure out what you need in the relationship at a minimum, and go for that.

9. Think about the kind of person you want to be. Do you want to be someone who carries a grudge over the course of a lifetime? Or do you want to learn to let go of past hurts?

10. To err is human, to forgive, divine. All of us are imperfect. Accepting our own shortcomings- and those of others- opens the door to healing and reconciliation.

 

Using the Web to Find Book Lovers for Your Book

The Web is an incredible tool for authors and PR people to use in finding new book lovers to pitch books too. While one can spend thousands of hours searching for new book blogs and book reviewers – there are also free tools that are available to you and that we encourage all our authors to utilize. It’s very important that authors stay empowered in working collaboratively with their PR firm so that no opportunities are missed.

When it comes to Twitter, if you’re an author and you’re just starting out, one of the ways to find people to follow is to use the Wefollow tool. If you hit this link you can see the Wefollow books list – http://wefollow.com/twitter/books. These are twitter book reviewers, publishers and media people who write about books or work in the book industry. This is a free tool that you can use anytime to find some more book folks to follow.

If you want to find more libraries on the Web, a great resource to use is GalleyCat’s listings at this link – http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/best-library-people-on-twitter_b11945.

The other important thing to remember as an author on Twitter is that you use your tweets to provide strong visibility for your book. Too often authors are letting others tweet on behalf of them or focus too much on sales jargon instead of tweeting about the book and why readers would want to identify with it.

Another tip we give authors during their book signing tours is to make sure they highlight and follow the bookstores that they’re appearing at on their Twitter feed. This is a great reciprocal way to acknowledge and support the independent brick and mortar stores that are supporting authors in incredible ways.

To find bookstores that are tweeting – see this link on Wefollow – http://wefollow.com/twitter/bookstore.

If you do a book signing at a brick and mortar store – take a picture and post it out across all your social networks as part of your support for the store as well as your book. And make sure that you tweet out your date and time for signing prior to the event. Thank the bookstore via Twitter as well.

Make sure your PR agency is also keeping up with the latest tools online and offline so that you’ll have the competitive advantage! Ask them if they are open to you sending them blogs that you want them to reach out to. Ask them if they pitch to Twitter book reviewers and online blogs/sites. Ask them how often and how many, and see if you can see samples of links and posts they’ve garnered on behalf of their authors.

Above all, use the best of online and offline tools to make sure your book comes out on top!

No Substitution for Good Old Fashioned PR

While we’re all embracing new, exciting media tools for reaching out in PR, and pitching, it’s also very important to keep in mind to keep some traditional tools in your PR arsenal as well.

Too often PR agencies are spending more time these days emailing pitches to producers without picking up the phone to make that important human connection to develop a strong relationship with a producer or writer. It’s a lot easier to say no by email than it is on the phone. On the phone you have the chance to pitch many different angles as well as answer an objection or misconception about the book.

Good PR is a fine balancing of all the tools, both new and old that work to get the client the top booking on the most relevant shows and online media.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that no matter what your book or your vertical of expertise covers, your best bet of getting coverage and interest from journalists offline and online is to make sure you keep the audience of the show or the site in mind.

The best opportunities on radio shows and television shows come through a real team of seasoned individuals pitching you in real-time to producers with active and relatable news pegs. Your story has to be interesting, insightful, engaging and stand-out dramatic. It also has to fit the coverage style of the show being pitched. Good PR people are always thinking of how to make the client stand out. You can do this as well, by ensuring that your story is as clear and riveting as it can honestly be.

While email in many ways helps us all work faster, and in some instances, is the best way to communicate efficiently, you simply cannot only rely on email pitches to get you on major television or radio shows. Many producers get literally thousands of emails daily and what they are really looking for in the early hours of planning the day’s show is a real news peg coupled with experts who can speak on the topic.

Just emailing a producer a formatted generalized press release will also not capture their eye.

Another very important aspect of pitching is to have a pitch that is 30 seconds or less in regard to the story hook, the expert and the reason it will fit for the show. Too often producers are pitched storylines, angles and experts that don’t match their audience demographic or their expert need.

While an email can certainly be sent as well and include tie-ins for the pitch and the news coverage and the uniqueness of the pitch, you will also want to make sure that a phone call is also employed as part of the process.

In our agency, we have several full-time publicists who spend each morning on the phones touching base with producers and pitching our clients. We don’t blast-pitch or email blast producers en masse, instead we work very hard to take that extra time to truly provide a perfect candidate for the producer. It’s important to understand for instance if you’re pitching The Dylan Ratigan show that you would never pitch a cookbook author to the show. By creating a customized pitch for each client and for your book you will create much more potential for you to be covered on that show.

One caveat to this as well, is that in our agency our online strategist works differently than the offline PR pitching. Many times bloggers and reviewers online would rather conduct pitching via email, Twitter and LinkedIn.com. This is a different form of pitching and we’ve found it incredibly valuable in terms of reaching people online, but we know that offline should also include the phone calls!

FIVE Tips When Calling Producers:

1. Don’t stalk the producers, by calling numerous times with the same pitch.
If you have new information for the writer or producer (the author is scheduled to be on The Today Show next Tuesday, or his new book will be #5 on the NYT bestseller list next week) updating them with a quick call or email is good to keep the author’s name and expertise front and center to that producer.

2. Learn as much as you can about the show and track their news stories and coverage for at least a month to get a really clear vision of the people they have on their shows.

3. Customize your pitch to tie into their audience demographic and news of the day.

4. Get to the point quickly – know what you want to say and do NOT READ A SCRIPT.

5. Be a resource. If they are looking for something that day and you know another publicist or author that could meet their need, always share that information. Be willing to help no matter if it’s your own client or someone else’s. They’ll remember that and it helps build goodwill.

Finally, always keep in mind that the media is always working to find new stories, it is your job or your PR agency’s job to make sure you stay ahead of the news curve! Always pitch with persistence and long-term success in mind. If you’re sure it’s a good fit for the show or online media, keep pitching. Many times it’s just a matter of timing and you have to be diligent and positive that you will get that break.