Think global, act local -- this environmentally-friendly axiom can also be a way to think of your public relations effort for your book. And by local, I mean hyper-local. Get your community talking about your book and knowing you as an author.
The ideal would be to have your local bookstore work with you on launch event for your book. However, in lieu of a local bookstore being willing to have you talk and sign books and have big banners and run full-page ads to announce that you are coming (yes, I am being a bit sarcastic. A local bookstore will expect that you invite every person you know to fill the room). Here are two hyper-local ideas that I believe could work in small, medium or major markets:
FIRST HYPER-LOCAL IDEA:
-Set up to talk at a free, open to the public event.“Free and open to the public” are key. Local news outlets are more inclined to publicize free, open to the public events. Go anywhere were there is a built-in audience to speak – examples of two places that I’ve spoken at: community senior group and local library. Ideally, an event organized by the "friends of library" – where those “friends” will be present. Your close friends may come to one book event – and you do want to save them for your local bookstore. Yes, you may sell a few books here – I sold a few at my senior and library event. However, the primary goal here is to publicize the fact that you are doing the event and raise awareness of your work in the local media. So, how do you publicize in a fast, easy and local way? Here are some suggested steps based on my experience with the promotion of my debut novel, LIE, (St. Martin's Press, 2011) as well as from 20 years in public relations:
-Write and distribute a “Media Advisory” for your event. This is one-page document that says you have some PR savvy to the local press – and can even make your event look “bigger.” Here’s a quick PR lesson on how to write:
MEDIA ADVISORY (BOLD AND CAPS)
YOUR NAME, AUTHOR OF, TALKS AT (ADD LOCATION)
WHO: (your name again, author of XXX)
WHAT: (1-3 sentence description of event)
WHERE: (be specific on exactly where-full address, room in building if needed)
WHEN: (give start time and end time)
PRESS CONTACT: (your name, email, phone, cell phone, website)
This document can be emailed – I would suggest with a jpeg photo of your book cover -- to community calendars at local newspapers, “free” papers such as Pennysavers, and one my favorite new hyper local public relations opportunity in many areas: AOL Patch. Be aware that deadlines for community calendars are often 3-4 weeks in advance.
So now you have an event to publicize, but you want more than just “community calendar” items. You want to build that event into a news “peg” in public relations parlance, a reason why a newspaper or even a local television station will cover it.
Follow up your media advisory with a phone call to the features editor for local or “hometown” news. This phone call should be made the same day you email the media advisory out. In a major market such as New York, this would be the “Metro” section of the New York Times or the local borough sections of the New York Daily News. This is not the book editor (if your paper even has one). You are essentially pitching a profile of yourself with the “news peg” being the local, free event. Plus, you are a local author. Where is your book set – is it local too? Is the theme of the book somehow connected to people’s lives in the community? Where you inspired to write your book because of something that happened to you that could be tied back to where you live? What other connections make this a “hometown” story – make sure you tell the editor.
Be aware that you should be making this call 3-4 weeks prior to the event (longer lead in major markets) and be prepared to send a copy of your book along with the media advisory and a press release to the reporter if she is interested.
Follow up to event. Your public relations effort is not over. If you are published by an established press, make sure you share the good news about your local efforts with your editor and official book publicist, who hopefully, like my terrific publicist, worked on a national (global) basis while I acted on a local basis, doing this kind of hyper-local outreach. These days, it’s critical that your publishing house knows that you are also making an effort to publicize your work.
Last thought: make sure you secure at the event framed by people – a photo that implies you have all these potential readers and buyers hungry for your words versus one of you alone at the podium. You may need to “set up” this photo at the event i.e. ask the crowd, sweetly, if they’d take a picture with you. If you’re like me you hate having your photo taken – but do it for the sake of your book!
Email the photo to the photo editor at your local paper. If your local library or senior center has a newsletter or website, make sure they have a photo of the event. Post on all your on line promotional vehicles. Post photo to She Writes! Make sure you clearly caption the photo with names, date and place of event – and with the fact that you – successful author – just had a successful event for your new book.
SECOND HYPER-LOCAL IDEA:
HAIR STYLISTS: I once worked with an independent documentary filmmaker renowned for getting attention for his projects – and himself. He gave me this idea: go to the hair salons, and give out free tickets to the event – to the stylists. Why the stylists? They spend all day talking to customers. They are built-in “WOM” word-of-mouth marketers. Give your stylist a copy of your next book – better yet give every stylist in the salon a personally signed copy of the book and ask the salon owner to display a poster of your above local “event” in the salon. Then, have your hair done so you look fabulous at your event!
Any other hyper-local ideas out there? Share?
The author of LIE