DEBBIE YOUNG: Remember to sell yourself, not just the books

What are the best PR practices authors can use to generate book sales? Debbie Young, a PR Guru, Commissioning Editor at the Alliance of Independent Authors, fiction and non-fiction indie author as well as in demand public speaker at literary events and writers’ conferences, answers to the point.

What are the major benefits authors can get from using PR?

For an author, PR is about building relationships not just with potential readers, but with anybody who might potentially recommend or help you sell your book. For example, booksellers, book bloggers, any intermediary that could come between you and readers if you are not dealing with readers directly. The purpose is to make them know and understand your work, and also build desire for your writing.

What PR tools authors can use to fulfill these goals?
The problem with PR is that there is so much you can do that it’s tempting to spend far too much time on it. First and foremost, you need to make sure you have a really good author website. The website is the heart of everything to do with your work and reaching potential readers. If you don’t have control of your website, you are at the mercy of everyone else says about you. The website needs to have a profile of you and your books available for readers from around the world any time of day or night. You also need to keep it updated, interesting, and dynamic. All other marketing activities, including social media, feed into your website. Look at driving people to your website.

UnknownAnother must-have is a mailing list. Although you might have thousands of followers on your social media channels, you can proactively approach them only when you capture their contact details, their email addresses. Therefore, your website should include a form of capturing your followers’ emails.

What social media channels do you recommend?
Choose those you like doing, those that really excite you. For writers, Twitter is a good match. It is very easy to home on in people who would be interested in your topic and genre by using #hashtags. Personally, I find it pretty fun playing with phrases that would fit the 140-characters definition. If you like taking photographs or have photographs related to your work, Twitter is great to share them. Tweets with photographs will always get more shares.

Nothing wrong will happen if you go on Facebook or Instagram instead of Twitter. I would say pick one or two you really like and try to get a daily buzz on each of those.

Another must-have is to remember to sell yourself not just the book. People expect to find information about the authors on the websites, not just a shopping list of their books. Say funny and interesting things, share information and inspiration into your genre or your topic. Be friendly, chatty, and jolly. People like to know about the human beings behind the books.

What other PR tactics can authors use to sell more books?
I always say marketing begins at home. And I don’t mean selling books to your mom and dad. In your home territory, look at the traditional media. The local papers, the local radio.These guys need to fill their pages and airwaves with interesting local news all the time. As a local author, you have an interesting story to tell about your book. Something about your research, interesting things in your environment.

You should also look for opportunities to speak at local events. It is easier than getting into a major festival when you aren’t yet a household name. If you engage at a local level, you will build your competence and confidence to target larger outlets. You will also build a track record and credibility.

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