5 Tips to Turn Rock Star Publicity into Rock Star Income: A Distributor’s Perspective on Publicity by Meg La Borde, Executive Vice President, Greenleaf Book Group
It doesn’t take an industry expert to tell you that an appearance on Oprah or Today can shoot book sales through the roof, but a dirty little secret in the book industry is that media coverage—even a BIG hit—does not always turn into book sales. You owe it to your publisher, your distributor, your hard working publicist and yourself to turn media into money. Here are five tips to help you use fame to get fortune:
1. Leverage your publicity with the supply chain. Update your publisher and distributor! If there is no supply to meet the demand your publicity is creating, you’re wasting money and losing sales. Your distributor can target stores in the geographic markets your media coverage is reaching and use your publicity as leverage with national buyers to get more books in stores.
2. Make time for proper timing. I understand that things move fast in a publicity campaign, but it’s nothing short of tragic when sales—big sales—are lost because of a silly detail like timing. If you think reviews will have a big impact on your book sales, make sure your publicist has galleys in hand at least four months prior to publication. If your publicist is booking radio or television interviews, consistently give your distributor three-four weeks notice so they have time to work books through the supply chain. If you land a national TV interview, communicate with your publisher and distributor immediately to troubleshoot any inventory issues and to give them the opportunity to use the hit to negotiate front-of-store placement with the chains. Whatever you do, don’t let money slip through your fingers because of sloppy timing.
3. Define three sales points to use in all media interviews. NOTE: The hook that lands the interview is not necessarily the hook that sells the book (and vice-versa). Be a good guest, but don’t be shy about using free airtime to sell your book. Know your readers and appeal to their needs in your interviews. If you only appeal to the needs of the media, you may get lots of interviews, but your book sales will flop. HINT: Don’t feel obligated to answer only the questions interviewers ask or to stick to the hook in the press release. For example, if you landed the interview by positioning yourself as an expert on a newsworthy topic, don’t assume people will go to a bookstore to buy your opinion. Instead, offer specific, usable content in the interview and clearly communicate (1) who needs the book and (2) what they will gain from reading it.
4. Say your title at least three times in every interview. Yes, there will be times when this is impossible, and there will be times when this is tacky, but if you make it a rule and stick to it, you will sell more books. Erase the words “my book” from your vocabulary, and always use the full title to refer to your work. This is one easy way to sell books in an interview without sounding like an infomercial.
5. Invest in media coaching. A media coach will help you define your sales points and teach you how to incorporate them into every interview. The fastest way to guarantee big returns is to get your distributor (who, in turn, gets the national buyers) excited about publicity, and then bomb the interview. NOTE: Being a talented speaker, charming personality, or good conversationalist does not make you media savvy.
If you’re investing in publicity, you should minimize your risk and grow your potential ROI by learning the mechanics of an interview and fundamentals like sound bites and message consolidation.
Meg La Borde is the Executive Vice President of Greenleaf Book Group, the nation’s leading distributor and consulting firm for small and independent publishers. To learn more about Greenleaf Book Group, visit www.GreenleafBookGroup.com.