I’m on Amazon, why do I need a website and a blog?

Glad you asked.

After months of writing and rewriting, of working with an editor, of pouring one’s self into a book, it can be understandable that the very last thing an author wants to do is write more. Especially when that more is for a platform or marketplace they feel might be a waste of time.

It’s a common misconception that once the book is written, it is done. But in order for an author to truly reach their audience on a much larger scale, the book needs to be placed in the hands of their fans. In order to do this, standing out in the constant noise of digital media is key. And it’s easier to stand out when you have something to stand ON: content.

Before a book is finished, it is wise to begin creating the buzz online. This can be done through a thoughtfully designed website that features you as an author and the book itself as a coming attraction. Generating this kind of interest grows more the closer you get to the book’s release date. Along with the website itself, having a strong blog that consistently shares information about the author, the origin of the story, locations found in the story, and other bite-sized details will be good in keeping the potential readership interested. A website can even give the author an idea about how well the book will be received by offering things like pre-order options.

A strong blog will also generate a great deal of content that can be shared across social media, something that should go without mentioning when it comes to the promotion and buzz that an author generates. These blogs also allow your PR campaign to showcase what’s coming: everybody wins!

Of course, an author who has just written a book might not be interested managing all of the day-to-day activities of their book promotion. This is why hiring a good social, web, and marketing firm such as Booth Media Group is essential in creating that ever-important web presence for the book.

Having a book is one thing. Marketing the right way to gain the necessary traction is another and can make all the difference in your overall success as a published author. It can be a journey to becoming a household name or seeing your book on the big screen, but it all starts with content.

Summer is here

Summer is Here

For many, summer is a time of relaxation. Teachers and students are off for a few precious weeks. Office workers and entrepreneurs often take a vacation around this season. It’s a time of travel, different schedules, camps, late nights, and naps (sometimes.)

But the summer can be so much more. On a personal level, this is a time for intentionally working on activities and goals you may feel too busy for the rest of the year. You can begin that great America novel, learn to juggle, go surfing, or take a screenwriting class.

This is a good time to start building healthier habits, whether exercising more, spending more time outside and away from your computer and phone, or learning a healthier style of cooking. The longer hours of sunlight give us extra energy and the feeling that now there finally IS time for that long-put-off project.

Many people create a Summer Bucket List with ideas big and small. Joining a group of people like a running group, a book club, or a writer’s group, can help jump start these new activities.

In PR, the summer is a good time to invoke a little boost of sunshine and spark in your campaigns. Seasonal summer topics like vacation, sports, sun protection, going to college, and holidays are easily connected to many other topics for pitches and features. It’s a great time of year for seeing what the trends in books are for the Fall and Winter seasons, cleaning up your desk, updating your database, finding new connections at events, learning new things coming up next for the industry, and checking in on your ongoing campaigns.

At Booth, we spend the summer getting checking in on our goals and getting excited again what’s ahead in the fall, a big season for publishing. We spend some time learning new things happening in the industry, new shows and publications to pitch. The summer is a great time to bring new ideas and technology into your PR process.

Summer is here; what will you do with it?

Blending media: the Art of a Good Book Tour

By Booth Media Group

When you write a new book, it’s a beautiful thing, a fresh creation, a message for the world. And writing it is certainly the hard part. After all, you’ve put in hours, brain cells, and probably a few tears into those pages. The editing and revising process was soul-numbing, and your editor is your best friend and arch nemesis all at once. But finally, the book is done and on the digital shelves of your nearest Amazon.com.

So what’s next?

The next step is somehow to let the public know your book is ready for them to buy and read and love. This step has many facets and options. One option is to go on a book tour. Variations on a traditional book tour that are a bit more affordable for most new authors are the virtual book tour and doing one major event in your hometown. All three of these options follow the general outline below. They will all help you launch your book. Combining these tours and events with as many key radio shows as possible, plus offering an article on a newsworthy topic that connects to your book to daily newspapers and key monthly publications can really help spread your net of visibility.

A traditional book tour means that you will travel into various cities and go to various venues, usually book stores, read little excerpts from your book, and then answer questions. Ideally, you’ll also do radio, tv, and get print coverage in these cities to promote your book and events.

In your head you’re probably imagining cozy rooms full of earnest and interested people all giving you their undivided attention and then flocking to the cash register to buy your book which you will sign with a pithy saying and your best autograph. But reality can be very, very different.

Often, bookstore events draw just a few people. A “crowd” is when people who aren’t your family show up. But even with a sparse turnout, these events are important for a number of reasons:

Connecting with readers:holding local events gives you a chance to connect with readers. In a world when we are usually so far apart from the authors, icons, celebrities, and leaders who influence us, being present and tangible still has value.

Connecting with booksellers: these are the people who, after all, have the power of recommendation when that wandering soul comes along an asks, “I’m looking for a good book. What do you recommend?” And if they’ve met you or know about your book, they are more likely to say, “Why, this new one from Whatever-Your-Name-Is is really good!”

Connecting with the location: and this step really requires media of all kinds: print, radio, television, and online. The beauty of being in a city is that you have the opportunity to capture media that prioritize LOCAL stories. You might be from Timbuctu, but you can pitch the local angle because you’re physically in town.

People need to see and hear about your book a number of times before they will buy it, according to studies. So when you blend radio and tv interviews, print and online reviews and features, and local events, you are giving your book the best chance of finding open eyes (and ears.)

Book tours aren’t necessarily for everyone, but have a chat with your publicist and see if they might be right for you.

Pros and cons of a radio campaign

by Booth Media Group

We’ve talked a lot about book tours as one of the time honored traditions of publishing a book. Part of what makes a book tour successful are radio spots talking about the event in each area. Being heard on the radio talking about your book and area of expertise, is a huge factor in people not only hearing about you, but caring about you – and your book.

Why do you want to be on radio?

The most important reason to be on radio is to tap into the influence of the hosts who have a dedicated following. Whether the audience is small and fierce or large and sprawling, loyal listeners tend to follow the advice of their favorite voice on the air waves, and if that voice tells them to buy your book or go to your website you can bet most of them will.

Your publicist works very hard to find radio shows that really fit your book or topic, and these shows may range widely depending on how versatile you can be. These radio shows will ideally have large local or regional audiences, or even national audiences. If they can be heard online either live or as podcasts, they have the potential to reach much farther.

In order to gain the interest and commitment of the radio producers and hosts who have the power to give you air time, your publicist must understand your work and the connections to current news and stories so that he or she can quickly communicate why you are a great fit for an interview. You can help this process along greatly by providing useful comments and insight into events and stories in the news, even if your book is about something different. For example, the author of a book about the scandals of a past president can provide interesting perspective on current scandals and therefore join in the conversation in today’s news. For other tips on how to sell your book in an interview, check out our blog.

Long story short, a radio campaign can get your name in the ears of a large number of people you could not otherwise reach. Pros include being able to do interviews from almost anywhere (as long as you have a landline) and not having to get dressed up. Also, these interviews are often archived online where they can be accessed, found, and the links sent by anyone. Cons include sometimes having to get up very early in the morning to accommodate time zone differences, sometimes speaking to small audiences, and not being able to talk with your hands (come on, we all do it!)

If you aren’t already considering a radio campaign for your new book or endeavor, talk to your publicist today to see if it would be a good fit.

Selling your book in an interview: how to discuss your book to make your audience want to buy it.

By Booth Media Group

You’ve written a book. It has a cover and a barcode and everything. You feel amazing, maybe even a little nervous, and all of this is surreal. Now what?

Whether you’re self-published or working with a traditional publisher, you’re probably working with a publicist. (If you’re not, you should be.) It’s your publicist’s job to get the media to give you some attention: radio interviews, TV appearances, book reviews in print and online publications, and perhaps a book tour with signings and talks. If your publicist is worth her salt, she’s pitching the media with a press kit that includes a press release, your bio, sample interview questions, and possibly even samples of articles you’ve written. She’s getting the producers, editors, and hosts excited to talk to you! Now what?

This is where you come in. You’re the expert on your subject matter, and you are the reason the producers booked interviews with your publicist. They want to talk to you about your story, your perspective, your background, your take on the news of the day, and the topic of your book. So, should you mention the title of your book every five minutes? Well, not quite.

There is an art to an interview. Deftly answering questions on unrelated points and pivoting them back to your book without sounding excessively promotional and “sales-y” takes some practice and finesse. If your book is about JFK’s assassination, for example, and the host asks you a question about Donald Trump, you need to be able to smoothly reply, “That’s a great question, and it reminds me of a point I made in chapter seven of my book JFK: the Real Story, and that is that these politicians are so very careful about the face they put out to the world…” Or maybe your book is about traditional South American Cuisine, and the host asks you about the low unemployment rates in the US, something completely unrelated. Be ready for anything—especially if it is in the news that day! You need to practice your segue back to the point YOU want to make. It is a skill to be able to courteously answer a host’s out the blue question briefly and yet firmly lead the interview back to YOUR message.

If this is your first book, then the first several interviews you do with the media might be intimidating. It can help to practice with a friend, answering questions on the fly and preparing your talking points. A media coach can also help. Here at Booth we can connect you to some of the best so that you are confident and ready to “sell” your book during any interview.

“Say What?” Email Follow Up

By Booth Media Group

We’ve all gotten a garbled voicemail message from a number we don’t recognize. And we’ve all struggled to make heads or tails out of the message because due to interference, poor reception, or a thick accent, it is next to impossible to tell who is talking or what they want. We listen to the message over and over and might even call in a friend or colleague to listen as well: “What name did he say? Can you tell? Did he say Brenda or Barbara or Burrito? Argh!”

These kinds of miscommunication happen, but they are no good for productivity or collaboration. It is so refreshing to hear instead, “Hi Mary, it’s Jeff. I’m calling to tell you I have the check for you. Please call me back and let me know where we can meet so I can give it to you.” This message is very clear. You know who it’s from, who it’s for, what the person leaving it expects to accomplish, and there is no guess work about results.

It might seem like email communication should be easy. After all, words on the screen aren’t at the mercy of reception or accents, though spelling and grammar can indeed get in the way sometimes. But when we are emailing a producer or media contact out of the blue wanting them to say, “yes,” it is vital that our message is crystal clear. What, exactly, do we want them to say, “yes” to? Don’t make them guess!

I don’t know about you, but getting an email from a colleague that is vague, circular, and never gets to the point is one of the most annoying time-wasters in my day. Don’t make me guess what you want! Just tell me (nicely!)

“Hello Joe, I hope you’re having a great day. I’ve got a client I think would be a great guest on the show! Let me tell you why, and I hope you’ll want to book an interview.” This tells Joe exactly what I want without being pushy. It’s still up to Joe to read over my reasons why and decide yay or nay, but now he can read the rest of the pitch knowing what I expect. Everybody wins in this situation.

If you’re not getting the responses that you want, maybe it’s time to be more direct while still being pleasant and personable (see our latest blog post here on Timeless Truths about PR.)

One last point about email. Sometimes you have to email the same person about the same message several times. Don’t just copy and paste the same words over and over. Spice things up a bit with different subject lines (even, “Have you thoughts more about….” Or “Great Guest for you…”,) different pitch bullet points (did anything new happen in the news since last time you emailed?) and different attachments (or no attachments at all.) The media read thousands upon thousands of emails a day, so make their lives a little easier and more interesting by sending clear and direct emails.

Leaving a Great Voicemail (Smile): how to say it all in 30 seconds

By Booth Media Group

If you’ve been in PR for more than five minutes, you know voicemail is as ubiquitous as coffee in this field. Even if you do a fair amount of your pitching and follow up by email, being able to leave effective voicemails is an essential skill.

There is a lot of talk out there about the “Elevator Pitch,” the quick version of your message that can be delivered in the time it takes an elevator to reach its destination. This is a valuable exercise not only for job or investment seekers, but also for PR professionals in search of a favorable media contact. When you’ve been calling all day, each voicemail, each interaction, is a priceless possibility – so that message needs to have oomph, elegance, and a bit of conviction.

To have any hope of convincing your listener, you must be believable and concise. Know your point: What is the point of your call? To get an interview or review. What is the point of your client’s message? That is the hard part: to become an expert on someone else’s book or endeavor so that you can sound like it is your own. Studying the material is of course important, but so is practicing your “elevator pitch.” Be able to tell whoever answers the phone exactly what you want and why they need to say yes. If they can’t tell what the heart of your message is within 30 seconds, you’re saying too much. Trim it down so it’s blindingly obvious to anyone listening.

If you are having trouble with this, grab a friend or a tape recorder and practice your pitch until you can say the whole thing in 30-45 seconds with all relevant details: Who, What, Why, and How to book an interview. If your media contact wants to know more, be ready to answer questions and describe in greater detail why your client is a great fit for the show, newspaper, or other platform. But you’ll only get that opportunity if you start off with confidence and clarity.

We recommend taking a deep breath as the person on the other end says, “hello,” and smiling while you introduce yourself. While quickly and clearly pitching your client, keep smiling, and remember to be pleasant and helpful, not pushy or demanding. It’s important not to sound like you’re rehearsing a speech that’s been given a hundred times before, so keeping just a few bullet points of your topics and themes in front of you on a post-it note will help you sound conversational and casual. Sounding like a human being and not like a recording can go a long way to keeping the interest of your listener. Be a human!

A great, short, and interesting pitch can be the difference between yet another nonresponsive contact, and a producer or editor who becomes a valuable resource. Get cracking on practicing!

The Art of Follow Up

by Booth Media Group

Good things come to those who work. And better things come to those who work hard. In PR, the hard work is the follow up. We send out press kits, packages, and pitches with what sometimes feels like wild abandon. Desks around the world are graced with materials from our office. The inboxes of countless producers and editors hold striking PDF press kits attached to friendly email pitches from our publicists with compelling subject lines. But is it enough to put together a beautiful press kit complete with sample interview questions, compelling topics, and a riveting press release on colored paper?

Of course you know the answer is, “No!”

At Booth Media Group, we pride ourselves on being “Pleasantly Persistent” in our efforts to work with the media. Whether we leave voice messages or send emails, we always have a smile in our voice and are clear in our emails. We know our media contacts are incredibly busy, often getting hundreds of messages and emails each day. To make it easy for the media to book our clients, we send multiple emails (but not too often!) and call frequently in order to have the best chance at speaking to a live person.

We often hear that the 10th email was the ticket, or that the 7th call that ended in a conversation was just what the media wanted. “Oh, thank you for trying again! I wanted to book with you but the email got lost in my inbox,” they say. Or, “So glad you emailed again. The timing is perfect right now as we are covering politics all week. Your client is perfect to have on the show to discuss the primaries.” That extra mile is one of the keys to our success in results. Being the right person at the right time takes persistence.

And when that last email results in a “No, thank you; we’ll pass this time,” we never argue. We’re just glad to be considered and to get a response. After all, no one likes arguing with a stranger about something they don’t want. It makes no sense to burn bridges with the media just because they’re not interested in this story; they might love the next one, so we need to let them know we respect them even when they say no.

The art to follow up is to realize that the media are people, too. Let’s make their lives easier by making it simple to say “Yes, let’s book!” That way, we all win.

5 timeless truths about PR

By Booth Media Group

1. We’re all human. That’s right – you’re a person, and the people on the other end of the email or phone are people, too. So, talk to them like people. Put some dang personality into your pitches and your follow up messages. Think you’re tired of leaving the same voicemail 100 times? Try listening to it over and over. It’s ok to be a little spicy (professionally speaking, of course.)

2. Grammar matters. Typos display a lack of care. Do you like getting emails from strangers rife with dropped words and misplaced modifiers? Probably not. Double check your spelling!

3. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If you say you’ll call back at 1:09 pm PST, then do it. Make a note, set an alarm, tie a whole ball of yarn around your finger. Follow through on your word. And if they say, “Thanks for the pitch, but no thanks,” don’t argue – respectfully accept this professional rejection and leave the bridge to that producer solidly in place for the next client.

4. Your listeners can hear the smile in your voice. But the reverse is also true: you can hear the smile (or lack thereof) in their voice, so be ready to adjust your pitch as needed to match the mood of the person on the other end. Are they sounding stressed right now? Offer to call back later. Do they sound like they want to chat a bit? Throw in some small talk – see point 1: you’re both humans!

5. Do for others what you would want done for you. So you need interviews and bookings for your clients, and that is why you’re calling and following up with the media. But what do they need? Be aware and alert of what your contacts are looking for – if you are genuinely helpful in providing good stories, guests, and information, you move from being an annoying fly buzzing around their voicemail to a valued friend or respected resource. And in this business, friends and valuable resources matter.

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.