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Publicity Week Day 1: Why Publicity is Your New Best Friend

Welcome to the first annual Book Publicity Week on Lisa Tener’s blog!
Special guest post by Rusty Shelton, Managing Director, Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists

Rusty Shelton, managing director of P&P
Rusty Shelton, managing director of P&P

When Lisa invited me to guest blog about book publicity, I thought back to five years ago when P&P ran a national publicity campaign for Lisa and her co-authors, Jane Middelton Moz and Peaco Todd, for their book, The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger.

The huge success of that campaign was linked in part to the active role that Lisa, Jane and Peaco played in the publicity launch, educating themselves ahead of time, working with their senior publicist and being proactive.

My goal for this week is to show you how authors today are using new and traditional media to get buzz for their books, and to put into your hands the tools that will help you be effective in your book publicity–both before publishing the book (in order to build your platform) and as the book becomes available to maximize the impact and sales of your book.

As I take your through a new topic each day, you’ll find additional “coursework” at the end of each post to help you take what you learn and put it into action. Lisa and I will also answer any questions that this course sparks for you. Feel free to submit them in the comments section or via email.
What can publicity do for you?

Third party credibility

When your first book releases you are viewed as an unknown commodity in publishing and, frequently, the media. As your publicist introduces you to media contacts around the country you build your platform as an author. With each interview you receive an implicit endorsement from the media by virtue of being featured on the air, in print or on the Web. As you rack up media experience, you can quickly become an author that has been “featured by Fortune,” or “interviewed on NPR,” giving you priceless third-party credibility that goes beyond your career as an author.

Book sales

Publicity helps sell books but  your publicist does not control how well your book is distributed. Make sure your publisher (or you, if you self publish) alerts book stores to any big media coverage, so that stores can meet any increased demand for you book. Remember, too, that publicity is not the only catalyst for sales—it

See your book on bookshelves!
See your book on bookshelves!

should be a piece of a full marketing strategy.

Set your book apart  from the competition

I hear many authors say, “I don’t need publicity for my book—I’ve got a wonderful cover, great endorsements and a foreword by the leading expert in my field. When someone gets to a bookstore looking for a book on this subject, they will certainly pick mine.”

According to the Book Industry Study Group, 59% of people who walk in the door at a bookstore know exactly the book they are going to buy when they get there. You need to reach them before they ever reach the store, and publicity will do so.

Give you a platform

Your platform as an author is one of the most important things that you bring to the table when publishing a book. A platform is especially important for nonfiction authors, many of whom decide to publish a book

Exposure across different mediums
Exposure across different mediums

to further cement their expert status as a leading resource on a certain topic. In fact, book sales may be less important than the boost your platform gets from media coverage–leading to better and more speaking gigs, consulting projects, and other opportunities.

Exposure across different mediums

Book reviews account for a small percentage of the coverage authors receive. While stand-alone book review sections are disappearing from newspapers at an alarming rate, print and online reviews are still realistic goals. Print publicity can also include interviews, particularly as you and your publicist identify newsworthy aspects of your book and your expertise in general.

A smart publicity strategy offers the opportunity to pursue coverage for you and your book across four forms of media: radio, TV, print and online. Often the most meaningful coverage you receive will not be a book review, but will come in the form of a feature story or interview.

Each media format has advantages and disadvantages and you have to understand both to get the most out of each opportunity.  Below are just a handful of each:

The Pros and Cons of Each Media Type


Advantage: A print booking is two bookings in one: It shows up in print and also online. Print is also viewed by many as a tremendous credibility boost and such clippings are a great addition to an author’s online press room.

Disadvantage: Instead of speaking directly to your audience, as you do on TV or radio, you have to communicate your message through a 3rd party—the journalist—and sometimes your message gets a bit muddied in the process.


Advantage: Convenience. Busy authors love radio interviews because you can be interviewed from home, at the office, from a hotel room on the road—any land line available. They also provide much more time—typically 15 to 30 minute interviews—as opposed to three minutes on TV.

Disadvantage: There is no visual connection, so your audience can’t see the cover of your book flash across the screen or read your website address under your picture. This means that, as an author, you have to communicate in sound bytes and ensure your book title and website address make several impressions during the interview.


Advantage: The visual connection takes the pressure off you to mention the book titles and website address, as both of those items are usually imprinted on the TV screen below your picture. TV interviews can boost your speaking opportunities, because people can see you in action–you can include a DVD in any speaking kit.

Disadvantage: Brevity. The host cuts to commercial before most authors get comfortable in their chair. You can expect a TV interview to be around three minutes long, which means you have to communicate succinctly. This is where soundbyte prep comes in.


Advantage: No media format offers more to authors right now than online. On Friday we’ll to dive into the many advantages for authors that online platforms provide but one of the most important is the direct link to a sales channel.

When someone reads an online book review about your book they can typically link directly from the article and buy your book on right then—when they are most interested in the book. That’s much better than hoping they remember the name of your book from a radio interview they heard on the way to work that morning.

Disadvantage: Part of what makes the internet so great for authors is that it allows everyone to voice an opinion about books. Not every opinion will be positive. You’ll need a thick skin. Just ignore them: there are few things an author can do that are worse than responding in the heat of the moment to a bad review.

I’ll conclude today by saying that while each media format may have advantages and disadvantages, it is crucial to pursue and garner coverage across each. Don’t put all of your publicity eggs in one basket.

Tomorrow’s post is titled “The Publicity 411: What to know before getting started” and will talk all about preparing for the publicity launch of your book.

Today’s extra credit is found over at the Phenix & Phenix blog. It’s a three part series prepping authors for TV talk shows:

Part One: Booking the interview

Part Two: Soundbyte prep

Part Three: Networking

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Stephen Monrad says

    Do authors need to hit all the publicity channels to be successful? For example, if I am more comfortable with radio, can I focus on that and skip television?

    You mentioned that publicity is only part of a marketing strategy. Can you explain what the other components are? I would have thought that publicity and marketing were the same thing.

  2. Rusty Shelton says

    Thanks for your kind words, Malcolm. I hope that throughout this week the process will become more clear for authors, making the task of getting quality publicity less daunting.

    Good questions, Stephen.

    1. Do authors need to hit all the publicity channels to be successful?

    RS-We are of the the view that to have maximum impact, it is important to build frequency across many different mediums. You hit different markets with each type of media, so if you just focus on radio, you are going to miss out on book buyers you may have hit with print, online or TV opportunities. If you are much more comfortable with radio, I would say that it’s fine to focus much of your energy there, but don’t ignore print, online and TV along the way.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that when you begin building your platform in the media, you are not likely to have a lot of name recognition in place, which means that people may have to hear mentions of you and your book multiple times before they make a buying decision. By building a frequency of coverage across several types of media, you increase the likelihood that the impressions will multiply.

    2. You mentioned that publicity is only part of a marketing strategy–can you explain what other components are?

    RS-Good question. Publicity is a piece of the marketing process, but not the only marketing tool that authors have at their disposal. Keep in mind that publicity is really media relations–working with the media to get coverage for you and your book.

    We often define marketing as those efforts which are “direct to consumer,” rather than using the media as a third party. If you are published by a major publisher, many of these efforts may be handled in house. If not, here are a few types of marketing that I recommend authors pursue:

    – Book signings/readings/speaking engagements
    – Social networking on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and beyond (more about this on Friday)
    – Partnerships with like-minded groups or organizations
    – Book clubs/reading groups
    – Conferences and other networking opportunities

    Publicity works hand in hand with many of these marketing tools. For example, your publicist will likely do tour media around every event that our authors have in place. While many would argue that book signings are not the sales tool they used to be (which I agree with), they are great tools for publicity (an event creates a local hook–which media loves). Publicists typically also provide publicity support for partnerships, conferences, etc.

    In addition, as an author builds more and more third party credibility from media coverage, moving forward with marketing efforts becomes much easier (and more effective).

  3. lisatener says


    That’s a great question. In my experience, it’s nice to hit them all, but you can certainly do very well with print and radio. And the internet can be so powerful for publicity, that some people focus there with good results. I’d still encourage you to diversify and I think Rusty’s response gives some powerful reasons to consider TV, but if you feel an aversion and diversify with all other media, I think you’d be fine.

    Rusty’s distinction about marketing is important. You need to be careful to be strategic about your book marketing–if you try to do everything without a strategy, you will find yourself burned out, spending a lot of time and money, and not necessarily selling that many books. Do a few strategic book signings and find ways to get a big turnout, rather than lots of small signings.

    Offer talks and workshops as a better alternative to signings–sometimes I offer a free workshop of writing in the zone at All That Matters Yoga and Holistic Conference Center in Wakefield, RI. I had 20 people at the last one and many either signed up for the half day workshop, which I do charge for. The day of the free mini workshop, I had three people signed up for my half day workshop. After the free event, I had 23 people sign up! Many who took the workshop now want to work privately with me or take my write your book in 6o days course. The book (or in this particular case a CD) builds on your passion and offers synergy with the other things you’re doing. A strategic marketing plan will help ensure the synergy. You can add a book signing to an event like mine and have it be an income producer rather than just a time sink. And you’ll probably sell more books when people hear you in action, too.

    Yes, but if you have a great publicity team, like we did, that helps! And take it step by step. If you plan your publicity before the book comes out, it will make it much less overwhelming.


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