Avoiding the Five Most Common PR Mistakes

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So you’ve published your book. Now what? It’s a daunting task going about finding people who are NOT your blood relatives to read and review your book. And you know that, unfortunately, when it comes to book sales, every sale is a hard sale. But getting your head in the right place and having a few tips from insiders who do this stuff for a living will help you in the long run. And trust me, book promotion is a VERY long run!

#1. Poo-pooing anything that isn’t Oprah. You may really have a book that IS Oprah-worthy but watch the show for one week and ask yourself “Do I (insert author name here) fit into this guest lineup?” For example, this week Oprah welcomes Jay-Z and Barbara Streisand. I’m not saying your story is not worthy of media attention, I am just saying sell a million copies first and you might get the call.

Oprah should not be your starting point. You are not the first one to think “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just get on Oprah??” Well yes, yes it would. But PR is a cumulative journey and every little bit counts. If you miss the opportunity to get some good local coverage in your community newsletter because you are staying up all night packing up boxes of books for the whole Oprah staff, you just put yourself one step further away from her.

#2. Failing to do your research. You probably did a lot of research and preparation before you started writing your book, right? You have to approach your PR in the same manner. Before pitching to a blogger or podcaster, editor or freelance journalist, read up on pieces they have already written. You will get better results by approaching outlets that have a specific interest in your book than you would by simply casting a wide net. This will also help you to connect better with the right kind of audience.

#3. Overstressing or overestimating the importance of galleys. As a reviewer I work with once eloquently wrote, “I usually approach an unsolicited galley with about as much excitement and anticipation as I do a root canal.” Sending out galleys is kind of like cold calling, so expect to get a lot of hang ups. That said, advance copies are not a total waste of time it’s just that fewer and fewer publications are working with galleys at all anymore. So take the time to find out which publications still accept them and save yourself some money by only sending them to those places.

#4. Thinking the Editor-in-Chief is the only contact that matters. Sure editors make the final decisions most of the time, but they aren’t usually the ones making contributions of content to the magazine. They rely on freelancers (more and more in this bad economy) to provide them with reviews and articles. These people all have websites and email addresses. Find them.

#5. Refusing to re-brand. If something isn’t working in your pitches, you may need to go back to the drawing board. It’s frustrating, yes. But I promise it is significantly less frustrating than doing even more fruitless labor. Make sure you are thinking about editorial calendars and yearly themes that publications will center each issue around: the age issue, the back to school issue, Halloween. Halloween is a BIG one.

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