Blogger: Mary Keeley
Karen Whiting is a veteran author, and over the years she has developed an extensive network of marketing relationships and ideas. I asked her to share some of the efforts she undertakes to promote her books. Here’s what she kindly offered.
Mary: When do you start to promote a book?
Karen: With the idea and at the very concept stage of the book. I talk about the topic to f ind out who knows something about it. This usually leads me to sources and influencers I can approach. These conversations also give me insight into what they’d want in a book on that topic.
Next, I investigate the topic to see what research is out there, current books already published on the subject, and what blogs abound on it. That helps me to know if the book I want to write is needed or if the idea is overworked, and it helps me to pinpoint what would be new and fresh content (where are the holes/unanswered questions).
I start to write blog posts about the subject as soon as I muse about the topic and keep writing posts throughout the creation of the book. The posts will contain the backstory matter, what doesn’t fit in the book, how I will make choices, or tips that will help the reader. Then, when the book launches, I’m ready to post and can move on to interviews and other writing and marketing efforts.
Mary: Here are several takeaways from Karen’s initial strategy. Can you think of others?
- Talking to a lot of people about your idea adds to your network and can open the door to connecting with influencers.
- Listening to those in your network provides insight into finding a unique angle, fresh content, and an untapped niche.
- Organizing and planning ahead during the concept stage makes lighter work when you are busy marketing your current release while also writing your next book.
How do you find that network?
Karen: The best place to start is locally and through people you know. Ask questions to find out what people do. Keep detailed notes. I recently attended a writer’s conference and Facebooked ahead with others attending. I discovered the husband of an attendee is a radio host. Since he was at the conference, I talked with him and scheduled an interview. That’s leading to some other great promotion. He works in media at a college, and they need practice at creating video, so they will use me and my book topics, and I’ll get free YouTube videos.
When I was considering writing a book about going green, I already knew more than a dozen people I could contact as sources for information. This saved me lots of research time and contributed experts/authorities to the book. That made it easier to create the proposal and pitch the book.
Mary: What can you apply from Karen’s response?
- Start networking right where you are, in your own field of reference. It likely will connect you to further networking opportunities. The point is, get started. Facebook friends are a great resource, and sometimes you can return the favor.
- Be proactive. The little effort it took Karen to connect with attendees at a conference led to a radio interview, which opened up the additional opportunity with the videos. One thing leads to another.
What is the best way to approach a request for a radio interview?
- Through the needs of the audience that ties to your book’s topic and what you know. Interviewers often want stories. Next week, when I have an interview on my upcoming Stories of Faith & Courage from the Home Front, the host wants to talk about today’s moms and military dependents. I can use my personal experience as a military wife/mom. I can also weave in a few examples from the past that provide solutions for today. I can even go to a hip hop station that had me on in the past and pitch the idea of songs related to wars (that’s in the book) and how music impacts and reflects life. They don’t want the book pitched as much as relevant topics with interesting slants.
- Relate the book to current events. Cec Murphey did that with his book on male abuse when the college coaching scandals broke last year, and that landed him many interviews.
- Relate the book to unusual date connections. For instance, if you write about organizing or the home, Clean Up Your Desk Day is a great launching pad for interviews. This year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which ties to Flag Day because the Star-Spangled Banner was written during that war. For me, I have an article coming out for Flag Day for my home front book.
- Relate to facts and statistics. Do you know that ____% of __________ have this problem? Once it looks big, people want someone to talk about it. Keep up with demographics, the Barna report, and studies like http://www.sciencedaily.com/ as that provides fuel for landing interviews.
- Relate to the seasons of the year, especially back to school (not just kid things but moms, who find that time is busier or lonelier), Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc. Do you have a great mom story in your book, or a funny mom story?
Mary: Which of Karen’s ideas struck you as something you could apply to your current work? How could you adapt her idea to fit your work?