Monday, October 8, 2007

Building Buzz

Almost as soon as I turned in my manuscript for The Jersey Shore, Atlantic City through Cape May: Great Destinations, family and friends started asking me what I would be doing next. A common response (aside from "sleeping for a week") was working on the publicity campaign. One well-meaning family member, who shall remain unnamed, asked "why don't you just make up a few fliers and post them around popular places down the shore?"

He means well. Really. But that's not how book publicity works.

I'm coming at this from a different angle than most authors. As part of my freelance writing business, I review and write about books, and I use authors as experts in service pieces. This means I work with a lot of in-house book PR people. I see how busy publicists are and have come to realize that, as good as their intentions might be, they cannot give 100 percent attention to any one book at a time. I even wrote an oft-linked to piece for Poets & Writers that offers my insights into the world of book PR. You can read that here.

So I know how much effort this PR campaign is going to be for me. Sure, I'll coordinate my efforts with the PR person from my publisher, but there's no way they can understand the local media marketplace like someone who lives and works in it every day, especially when they put out books about regions from all over the country. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I'm thankful that I realize this way ahead of time instead of when the book's already out and I'm wondering why no one cares.

To start, I signed up for Sandra Beckwith's Build Book Buzz class. It's a ridiculously good value when you consider that, in two weeks of classes, I've already had my eyes opened to ways I can promote the book that I never even considered. I don't want to give too much away, but I'll just say that I'll never look at tip sheets the same way again.

I'm also creating lists of media outlets that might want to write about me, the book, or both. This hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, it took about 10 minutes to put together a list of area writers and reporters I know who will probably write about the book, but that's only the beginning of this book's potential. For example, a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article pointed out that about 25 percent of people who visit Cape May County come from Canada, specifically Montreal. So I'm asking Canada-based colleagues about what papers they think would be interested in the book, and how to navigate the French-media market in Montreal if your knowledge of French dates back to high school.

I've also had editors from all over the country comment about my blog and how they, from New York, California, and Michigan, either used to spend time or still vacation at the southern New Jersey shore. How do I reach those potential readers? It's on my 'to do' list. This blog is also going to be a prong of the publicity campaign, and I'm toying with the idea of building an entirely new site just for the book.

And then there's the world of book launch parties -- I think I'll have one in the Philadelphia area, and down the shore -- and how to get the most bang from my buck at book-related events. I'd also like to run a contest through this blog that would offer shore-related prizes and hopefully a few laughs. That, too, will be publicized and hopefully bring in readers. I have a few ideas -- if you do, too, send 'em my way or post in the comments.

And that's just the tip of the promo iceberg. It's intimidating, but it can be worth it. Why? One word: royalties. The more books I sell, the more money I make and the more money the publisher makes. And they're nice people, so why not help us both out at the same time?

If you have any ideas of how I could promote this book, or want to offer any advice, either drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com, or post in the comments below. And send this blog link to your friends!

What I'm Listening to: Under the Iron Sea by Keane

What I'm Reading: My Life in France by Julia Child

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Computer Clarity © 2004 said...

Hi Jen
My vote is "Yes," - give the books its own web site.

I'm a computer consultant and FLX'r. My first book fit within the parameters of my main web site, but my second book, on writing, was not a logical match. I created a blog and a separate web site and it makes a big difference, (

Your book site keeps the viewer focused on your book. I use mine to link to the blog, to events, resources, endorsements, etc. It's a one-stop shop for the media.

Good luck!

Helen Gallagher

Marijke Durning said...

Hi Jen!
I've been looking around some more for you here in Montreal and I have a few more ideas - just have to put them down so they make sense. :-)

I might follow your recommendation for the book promotion class. Oscar's Diaries sales have stalled and it's time to get moving on it.

It's my first visit here, but I'll be back!

Matt Katz said...

Drop $50 for some Google Ads, so when people search Jersey Shore, a link to your amazon page comes up.