Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

09/25/2009

The New World of Book Publicists


Book publicists are having to change their MO (modus operandi) in todays publishing atmosphere. They’ve always had to establish trust with clients but today the methods have changed. The following post from Yen Cheong spotlights publicists and how they have to establish trust using todays tools:

How book publicists can be Trust Agents
Posted: 23 Sep 2009 08:00 PM PDT

Back when I started The Book Publicity Blog about a year and a half ago, I looked around to find interesting and informative marketing / PR / social networking blogs from which I could draw information that would be of use to book publicists. Every so often, I’d link to Chris Brogan’s blog, which provided a trove of handy information.

Imagine my surprise and delight when Brogan’s publicist, @cincindypat, asked if I’d be open to a guest post from him. (Brogan is now also the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.) Who better to talk about how to successfully publicize a book? Voila.

As you struggle to survive the attention wars, finding ways to connect your authors to valuable audiences has changed. This isn’t easy. Working with bloggers isn’t the same as traditional journalists, but connecting with journalists isn’t all it used to be, either. Getting mainstream coverage is more and more difficult. Budgets are tight. What’s a book publicist to do?

I’m writing this from a strange perspective. My book, Trust Agents reached the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal lists within two days of release. We speak about trust and how to use online tools to build relationships using new tools and new channels, and in the process, we had two publicists helping us as well. So, I have two sides of the coin in mind when I write this, or maybe three. I write it as an author, as a professional blogger, and as someone thinking on how the publicist might develop their efforts. Here’s what I have for you.

Find The Audience You Need – The easiest way to start on this is to grow bigger ears. Use tools like Alltop.com and Technorati.com to find who’s writing in the space your author is trying to reach. Don’t be swayed by big numbers, but instead, pay attention to the people who might connect with the work, and get to know them. Don’t reach out yet. We have more to do.

Do Your Homework – Use sites like Compete.com to find out if the bloggers you’ve picked have a decent audience. Check their blogs for numbers of comments and level of engagement overall. Determine whether the blogger has done book reviews in the past (though don’t let this sway you).

Comments Come First – Leave comments about other posts over a week or so. Make them relevant, and never pitch your author at these points. Just connect on posts that make sense. Don’t ever hide that you’re a professional publicist. This is the art of building relationships before you need anything. It sounds like work. It is work. And yet, the yield is much better.

Break the Big Lie – Want to earn my respect forever? Acknowledge that there are other books from other publishers that are well done and/or that complement your author’s work. Stun people with your grasp of the real world. I say this with a bit of sarcasm, but realize that media makers like bloggers and podcasters know that there are other books out there, and we’ve maybe even read them before.

Build Non-Book Relationships With People – By getting to know people on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on blogs, you’ve got to talk about non-book things from time to time. This is part of the whole relationship-building experience we’ve written about in Trust Agents. People don’t want to hang out with promoters. They want to spend time on online social networks with friends who interact with them, ask them questions, and talk about things beyond their business interests. It’s not wrong to talk about your author or authors. It’s wrong to make that the primary thrust of what you talk about.
This all adds up. Over time, it’s connecting in these human-shaped ways that will make all the difference in the world. People connect with those they know and who make them feel comfortable. Earning trust before you need something for business is a fast track to getting the kinds of coverage your authors deserve. This is how we’re seeing it done. There’s more to it than just showing up and typing, but these are some of the ways I feel you’ll be able to do business in the new social space. I hope they work for you.

Chris Brogan is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. He writes about social media and how human business works at chrisbrogan.com.

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