Publicity doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead, authors need to turn to what they do best – tell a story, shedding light on the motivations and purpose behind their work. Every stage of publishing the book – from telling the story to attracting an agent and publisher, hiring a publicist, posing for photos, answering questions from journalists or fans, running workshops, sending out messages on social media – should include storytelling devices.
Stories of characters in a book probably connect with stories from the author’s life – and authors can’t help but remember moments that triggered the tale. So, more work has probably been accomplished than the author realizes.
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- Books typically have several themes, and authors should have strong opinions on those themes. If those themes connect with current events, then draft 500 words – opinion essays, book reviews, feature articles and blog entries for newspapers or television – presenting a perspective drawing on anecdotes from real life or the novel itself. Such expertise leads to speaking engagements and opportunity to tell more stories.
- For profiles or interviews, be prepared to answer the question, “How did you get the idea for this book?” Nicholas Sparks tells that story on his website. And there’s the story behind ideas and their process: Greg Breeding describes the story behind Bono’s song, “One,” in an article for Story Matters, an online magazine from design and publishing firm Journey. “Great ideas do seem to come out of nowhere, but then again, the intentional push against mediocrity is the rich soil where excellence takes root,” he writes. “Hard work doesn’t necessarily produce greatness, but it’s hard to imagine that the really great ideas come without it.”
- Linking articles connected to book themes on an author’s website can attract invitations to write or speak.
- Images can relay stories and increase curiosity. Categories, captions and photos in Pinterest can reveal how an author selects details. Even a quick brief clip of a workshop, posted on YouTube, can introduce an author’s attitude.
- Communications – enchanting, intriguing, instructive or funny – should be concise, focused on one of the book’s theme. Twitter posts, long conversations or stand-alones, can relay a story and raise suspense. Tweets that read like poetry or moments of weakness, blasting a critic’s review, do attract notice.
- Take advantage of read-made social media for storytelling and control the story on LibraryThing, Goodreads or your Facebook Timeline.
- No author is going to be an expert at every facet of publicity. Don’t panic. Jacket Copy from The Los Angeles Times gives the best advice – make it fun.
One huge difference between drafting story for novels versus publicity is timing. Deadlines loom for publicity. Copy must be submitted quickly. There’s less time or tolerance for a bad first draft. Writers must be spontaneous, coherent and insightful for social media and any type of interview. Practice helps.
Susan Froetschel is the author of four mystery books, including Fear of Beauty, releasing in January, 2013. Visit her website at www.froetschel.com