Writing a novel is a tough task for even the most accomplished writer, and if you choose to self-publish, the next step on the road to literary success is often even tougher: Marketing and promotion.
Those two words alone will make a lot of writers hide away and lock the door. In some cases, writers are so unaware of the importance of marketing and promotion that they self-publish their novel and then sit back and wonder why it isn’t on Amazon’s Bestsellers list within a couple of weeks.
The simple truth is that self-published authors have to become an author, publisher and publicist all rolled into one little package. With that in mind, it pays to understand how important the power of PR can be to self-published authors and the sales of their eBooks.
What is PR?
PR stands for public relations, and is an incredibly useful way for authors to publicise their works via a number of different tools and techniques, including:
Press Releases – Including news stories, promotions, publicising novel releases, speaking events, book fares and much more.
Public Speaking – Including public performances/readings, lectures at schools and colleges, speaking events, Q&A’s and public screenings (where applicable)
Media Kits – Including brochures, book excerpts, photos, videos and other promotional materials (to be sent to publishers, radio and TV stations, etc.)
PR can be used to find your target audience via a variety of channels including local press and media, the web (including popular websites and blogs) and TV and radio. Not only can you find readers for your novels and build an audience for you as a writer, but you can also use these PR techniques to build relationships with a variety of people in the likes of the press and media, in the hope that you can help each other out in the future.
Build Your Local Fan Base with Press and Radio
The web has made a large number of people forget that there are still thousands of people getting their fix of media and entertainment news from the local papers, radio and TV. You can use the power of PR to build lasting relationships with the local press and radio by making initial contact with a press release when you are releasing your novel.
Not only will you reach a wide audience for your writing, but it could create some great opportunities for you in the local area, including public speaking gigs and events, becoming the ‘go-to’ writer when the press/radio need a quote about the arts, and generally just expanding your horizons as an author.
A personal example: When I submitted my short film ROCKY ROAD into festivals across the world, I submitted a Press Release to my local newspaper, and they gave me a call the next day to discuss the film. In the press release, I talked about how both the director and I had graduated from the local university, and that we wanted to make more films in the local area. By giving the press release a local angle, the newspaper were interested and featured the story on their website. Result.
Networking in Person is Even More Essential in the Digital Age
Writers can quickly become reclusive animals living a sedentary lifestyle, and the likes of social media and other forms of PR and marketing have made it even easier to build an online profile to hide behind. While this can be great and sell you a lot of books, networking in person and giving people an opportunity to hear your thoughts on writing – not to mention sell books in person at signings, book stalls and events related to literature and the arts – is still just as important as it’s ever been.
There are a number of writers who use public speaking as a way of introducing their works to a new audience and as a way of sharing their knowledge and expertise on an appreciative audience. The author and comic book creator Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) regularly speaks at Leicester’s De Montfort University (he lives in Northampton, approx. 30-40 miles away) to students about his career in writing.
Some writers simply do it to get them out of the house and away from the blinking cursor. Either way, networking and appearing in public is hugely beneficial to self-published authors who are looking to get their names out into the world of literature.
Outsourcing Your PR
If you have set aside some cash for your marketing and promotional efforts, you could consider outsourcing your PR to an established agency. Let’s be honest: Sometimes social media and other forms of self-promotion are exhausting and can feel like a hiding to nothing. Only authors can sit on Facebook and Twitter for hours on end and it not be called procrastination.
Jokes aside, outsourcing your PR efforts can be incredibly useful because a) You have more time to write, b) You are working as a collaborative team with professionals who know what they’re doing, and c) You are spending money on marketing and promotion that is more likely to work than throwing yourself into PR and marketing yourself and your works and hoping something pays off.
Whether it comes down to writing a decent press release, a quality query letter that is more likely to receive a response or the PR company using its contacts and resources to get you some great coverage on local radio, TV or in print, it could translate to some solid book sales and build your audience significantly, and is therefore worth considering dipping into your savings for.