Thursday, July 14, 2011

Publicity Primer - Conference Workshop

Before I start, I wanted to mention that I will be changing things a tiny bit. Mondays I will write my regular post; Wednesdays will be [Mostly] Wordless Wednesdays, where I post photos I've taken; Fridays will be Feature Fridays, where I post about a blog I follow. I thought this would be a good way to introduce the blogs I find interesting and why. This is possibly just a change for the summer, but I'm finding my time more limited than I had expected. I reserve the right to post extra posts any time I want, though! My next post will be Monday and Feature Friday will begin next week.

It's been awhile since I posted notes from a conference class. I didn't want to continue beating people over the head with the conference, so I figured I would spread out conference posts. This workshop was called Publicity Primer - Ideas and informal Q & A with Sue Mitchell & Deb Courtney. You can find Deb Courtney at The Conversational Shoplifter and she is the person who runs the Monday writer's nights at Rico's. I am unaware of a website for Sue Mitchell. This workshop was to inform writers how to do their own publicity, which is quickly becoming primarily the writer's job.

Firstly, you should create a marketing action plan, complete with a press kit. Have a marketing approach before you begin selling yourself.

Elements to include:
*Marketing Overview
*Synopsis - Thumbnail (log line), Short (1-2 paragraphs), Full Page
*Follow-Up/The Next Book (If you have another book planned, mention it now to whet appetites)
*Author Info/Bio (why should they be interested in you?)
*Knowing the Customer/Audience (who will be interested in your writing)
*Knowing the Competition (what established authors do you compare to?)
*Creating Market Opportunities (ways you know you can present yourself--platform, connections)

Action Plan
Pre-sales (sense of how many pre-sales you'll have from local bookstores and Amazon pre-sales--you'll need an ISBN and bar code)
Second Run
Secure Retailing
Book Positioning
Author Positioning (website, for instance)
Customer Rewards (mailing list on your website--run a contest, use review copies for giveaways on your site and/or at conferences)
Public Relations/General Releases
Retailing/Book Tour (book your own if your publisher can't, do a couch tour*, walk into book stores to see if they're willing to carry your books, find a local rep for big book chains and ask them)
Event Appearances (conferences, seek out local writer's groups for events)
Speaking Engagements
Multi-Media/Interview Questions (virtual press kit**)

*Couch Tour: Definitely focus on your local area book stores, but also be aware of places you can travel to with lower expense, such as cities where you have friends who will let you crash on their couch)

**Virtual Press Kit: Synopsis, head shot, picture of your book cover, pre-answered questions on stuff you're comfortable talking about, copies of reviews

Press Releases - Format & Spin
A press release is like a news story. It should be topical, timely, interesting and geared toward the specific recipient you're contacting. Each paragraph should only be a couple sentences.

Media Relations - Who, How & The Big Interview
College radio stations, local radio stations, local TV stations. Figure out questions ahead of time and rehearse answers.

Personal:an established blog is one year, with posts at least two times per week, getting reads and comments.
Huffington Post or Equivalent: Bloggers can get established on there with a link to their personal blog at the bottom of their post/article.

Free Resources:
Look around on the internet and locally.

Book Reviews
Getting Them: Find people on Goodreads or other blogs who are willing to review your book. Even if you get ripped apart, be polite and thank them. Be gracious.
Writing Them: This can get you out there, as well. Set up your own blog, write reviews for other authors.

Social Networking:
Facebook: They have books and library courses to help you set this up. Make a fan page in your name for people to "like" and pages for your books.
Twitter: Follow publishing houses for information/announcements

Linked Online Presence:
Set your blog up as a networked blog to Facebook and Twitter, so all posts will go to both places. (I need to figure out how to do this; it would make my life easier!)

Create an online presence for yourself. Use, Digg, Reddit, etc.

Don't send a press release if you're not willing to include your personal information (you can get a Google Mask #).

Don't post a lot of personal information about yourself online.

Don't send stuff out constantly or you will over-saturate with your presence.

***They also gave us a sample Press Release:



Phone Number
Email/Web Site

HEADLINE (Capitalize all but prepositions)
Date, or Date of Event/Release
Location of Event

COPY: Begin with timely introduction, unique information or story angle. Bring in details. Synopsis in regular sentences of the event, not the piece of fiction. Ex: "Local author, xyz will be doing a signing on x date..." List who, what, when, where, why and how.

BOILER PLATE: Information about author, history, organization, etc.

Centered at the bottom of the piece, put: -30-

-30- means there is not a second page to the press release, that it is complete. Do not put -30- if it is not complete.

I hope this helps!

Do you have a press kit for yourself yet? Have you had experience with any of this? Do you use Digg, Reddit or similar sites to get yourself out there?

Happy Writing!


  1. Man, I've got some serious work to do!! Wonderful post, Shannon, and very informative. I'm gonna get on some of this stuff, see what I can whip up. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great information. Thanks for sharing.
    I'm a new follower.

  3. Alyssia, yeah I was posting it and thinking,"hrm, I should be doing that and that..." So much work!

    Rebecca, thank you and welcome!

  4. WOW. You put a lot of good info in there! Nice :D

  5. Good info.
    And great idea to structure your posts... not a bad idea. (=

  6. I'm exhausted already just thinking about all the work you put into this! These are all great guidelines for building a marketing action plan. It's really a full time job. Thanks for the wake-up call! Julie

  7. Shannon - this is a great accumulation of info. I'm not ready for lots of it yet and I used to be a publicist but back in the day - before social media - lots to learn!, back to my revisions.

  8. Oh my. I have huge amounts of work to do!

    Such a useful post - thanks, Shannon!

  9. Hi Shannon,

    Wow, this is great! You put so much time and info into this post. I think I'll save it under my Resources & Links sidebar spot for future reference.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello, it means a lot to me.

    Take care,

    Kathy M.

  10. Jolene, thank you, but I can't take credit since it was from notes.

    Jo, thanks. I'm hoping the structuring helps a bit.

    Julie, it definitely sounds like a full-time job, eh? I figure doing as much in advance as one can is the best way to get through.

    Jan, hopefully having been a publicist helps a lot, despite it being before social networking. I'll definitely have to keep an eye out on your blog for tips, as well!

    Sangu, me, too!

    Kathy, thanks! I enjoy stopping by.