Tips for New Writers

Being an author isn’t easy. Attaching your name to a piece of writing that is open to public criticism takes courage. Experienced writers who have developed thicker skin might say that it gets easier over time, but for new writers, the idea of publishing can be daunting. Here at Booth Media Group, we have helped guide many authors in different points of their career. Which is why we wanted to share a few tips for any new writers who are looking to successfully launch their first book.

To begin, take plenty of time to identify your audience. While your marketing strategy is made up of a variety of components, you should focus your attention on who will make up your readership initially. It is much easier than you might think to leave out individuals who can make up an influential portion of your audience. We suggest using brainstorming activities created by leading marketing professionals that are at your disposal online. For instance, set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write down as many of the five W’s (who, what, etc.) of the individuals who you believe are your target readership.

Remember, being a successful author takes time, and there will be setbacks along the way. Do not be discouraged; taking what you’ve learned from your mistakes will help you in the long run. Take time to invest in your brand. One way to do this is by setting aside a few hours every week to develop engaging content to be posted on your brand’s website and social media accounts. Don’t know where you’ll find the time do write social media content as well as your book? No need to fret; we can help with that, too!

We’re confident that these tips will lead to early successes. Make sure to check out our Facebook Page for other tips and motivational advice posted weekly.

The Shy Author’s Guide to Shameless Self-Promotion

There are those who are the Don Kings of book promotion and who revel in the busy atmosphere of finding their unique space within a book signing or press junket. And, there are those authors who shy away completely, wishing their book would sell based on their writing merits alone without speaking words to other human beings. And even in this new era of book promotion, your audience would like to meet and understand the person behind those words in the book that cost them x number of dollars. That human connection is still what sells books.

There is help, however for the shy author who would rather hire a stunt double than speak in a public forum about their book.
Here are some tips:

1. Prepare all the things you want to say or have announced about you. By writing down different ways to kick off conversation about the book that you are comfortable with, you can have some sense of control over the narrative. If you ignore the process altogether, you might find yourself in conversations you simply do not want to have.

2. Be a participant in the physical set up of the table, desk, podium placement or interview seating. This will empower you to, again, have some sense of control about what your audience sees and feels when they meet you. If you have marketing material to share like personalized bookmarks, signed copies of your book or cards with your social media handles, share it. Allow these items to do the “speaking” for you.

3. Put out candy, or something! Invite the warmth to your table in any way you can and if candy, or mittens, or keychains or something that can be taken directly from your book, use it.

4. Know that if your digital marketing has done its job right, there is an audience waiting for you and they want to see you. Be yourself and enjoy the ride. They came for you.

5. Co-signing. If you are still terrified to meet and greet your readers or to hold any kind of book signing, why not pair up with a fellow author? Cross promotion can become something greater for you and should not be viewed as competitive but as a compliment. By endorsing each other’s books in the form of casual conversation (much like a podcast) you will eventually find the courage to venture out and promote your book on your own. Plus, merging different audiences can win a wider fan base.

6. Blog and reach out on social media more. If public speaking is simply not for you, keep yourself free of any form of speaking by writing and stepping up your web presence. Start an email list and reach out with newsletters and announcements. Make your audience feel special.

Meet your audience wherever they are. Of course, they are online, but they are also in bookstores and at events. Connecting with one will help you connect with many: and that connection will sell your book.

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.

Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts of PR

PR as an industry is always changing. As a cousin of the marketing industry, the rapid evolution of trends such as social media impact public relations. Instead of faxing press releases, for example, now we might tag a producer in a tweet about a client in a bid for his or her attention.

But even though you may pitch via infographic now instead of by fax, there are some evergreen Do’s and Don’ts of PR.

1. Always have a smile on your face when you place a call. It will show up in your voice. Smile while you type your pitch or follow up email as well (It will come through, I promise!)

2. Know exactly what you want to say and the result you want to get before the phone starts ringing or you hit send on that message.

3. Be authentic, enthusiastic, and friendly.

4. Don’t mail out something unless you have the time and energy to follow up with several phone calls, emails, or even social media messages. In other words, don’t make a promise you can’t keep.

5. Be prepared to send out material over and over again. In this business no news doesn’t mean “No,” it just means “Not Yet.” And it’s your job to turn that into a “Yes.”

6. Don’t call your media contact when he’s on deadline. Use your head, and don’t call the “News at Noon” producer at 12:10 pm when he’s swamped.

7. Listen for state of mind. If the person on the phone sounds busy, find out a better time to call. And then – this is key – call at that time! This lets her know you are considerate and can be counted on to do what you say you will.

8. Don’t take rejection personally. After all, if you don’t ask the answer is “No” automatically, but not every producer or editor will be able to say “Yes” to your pitch. It’s not about you, so just keep trying.

9. Be persistent without being obnoxious. Don’t be pushy or argumentative, just don’t give up without some effort. It’s often after the 5th or 10th contact that a producer finally gets around to answering your email or picking up the phone, and if you’d given up after just 1 you’d never get that relationship or that booking.

10. Become a resource by finding out what else your contact is working on and trying to help. Going above and beyond even in little ways will set you apart and solidify that contact in your database.

There you have it. These are time-tested, technology-immune rules for good PR. They are really rules for good living, too.

Pitching the Way They Like It: Creative Pitching for Radio

Need to get your client on radio? Have you pitched and followed up 17 times by email and phone calls? What do your pitches look like? Are they boring and wordy? Do you say the same thing every single time?

In this fast paced world of social media and multiple pathways of communication with all kind of people, our pitches need to be fast paced, versatile, and exciting.
Whether you’re pitching via Twitter, sending a good old fashioned email, or leaving a voicemail, your message needs to be crystal clear, interesting, direct, and straight to the point. These kinds of pitches are going to get you more results.

Knowing how your contact likes to be pitched is important, but pitching them something they’ll want to read is even more important. It doesn’t matter what your subject matter is – whether it’s a niche topic or breaking news – what matters is how you deliver the news.

A good subject or headline will get them interested. Using a bullet pointed list to clearly layout the 3-5 main points will immediately let them know what you’re pitching and what you want them to do about it. This straight-to-the-point, crystal clear style of pitching applies to any topic or theme and will help your client’s message be seen and heard by those who can get it heard on the airwaves.

Once you have a clear message and an engaging style, you can use the power of multiple platforms to get through to your producer or host. Send an email, follow up with a phone call, then try a quick contact through Twitter or Facebook. Don’t be pushy or annoying, just be available through any avenue that person uses to get pitches. Just like in marketing, you need to be talking where your audience is listening and pitching in the way they like to be pitched.

The moral of our story is that the successful publicist must write pitches that will get results and then must get those pitches out in various ways. Our publicists have not only perfected these principles, but continue the follow up with pleasant persistence until we get an answer. Patience, positivity, and hard work pay off.

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.

“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!

Donald Trump: PR genius or nightmare?

“Let’s be more like Donald Trump.” Wait – what? Bear with me; he’s not all bad from a PR standpoint.

“No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.” Do you really believe that? Donald Trump certainly seems to.

Politics aside, you kind of have to admire the man for his apparently limitless ability to be in the news at all times. And not quite in a Kardashian kind of way. There is a rather large number of people who seem to like what Donald Trump says and does, and those who don’t like him definitely like talking about him. (Among all likely voters, 61% now say Trump is likely to be the official Republican presidential candidate.)

In the PR world, your message is vital, but the way you present it is just as important. As my mother always says, “Always tell the truth, just don’t always be telling it.” Trump takes this a little too far, telling it just like he thinks it is, whether it is true or not.

Trump says what he thinks, apparently without fore-thought or consideration for the consequences. His words make his listeners and readers sort of crazy, but they certainly don’t allow anyone to ignore him or take him lightly. The very controversy in his message and delivery has ensured his notoriety and therefore popularity. He is always in the news because he is always making the news. Instead of waiting for things to happen to him, he finds ways to make things happen.

Though he does frequently err on the side of too much negativity, his straightforward, no apologies kind of talk has proven effective – and the PR world can learn from it. We too often take the safe route, the politically correct sentence that is sure to offend no one – the kind of sentence that no one will notice and no one will remember. To create action, we must use language that creates emotion. While we don’t need to go quite as far as Donald Trump and make our audience hate us, we can and should take a few more risks.

So, let’s be more like Donald Trump while not being quite as Trump-y as he is. Let’s be more proactive and more direct in 2016, creating more emotions and inspire more actions in our audience.