Community Member Q&A: PR by the Book

PR by the Book
PR by the Book is a boutique publicity firm based in Austin with another office in Nashville. The firm specializes in traditional & online media relations, social media services, and book tour support for both new and seasoned authors of just about every genre. Founded in 2002 by Marika and Doug Flatt, PR by the Book has worked with clients such as Patagonia Books, HarperCollins, Thomas Nelson, Rex Pickett (Sideways), Debbie Adler (Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-free & Vegan Recipes), and Dr. Darrell Bock (Truth Matters) to name a few.
PR by the Book is also a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Marika Flatt to find out more about them.
Marika FlattScribe: You founded PR by the Book over 13 years ago. What are some of the changes you’ve noticed in the past few years for authors in the world of publicity?
Marika Flatt: We work hard to stay ahead of the curve because book publicity changes every year. Some of the most recent changes include: shortening pitches (via email), utilizing an Experts Page online for each of our clients, and working to make the social media platform of the client sync up with their PR effort.
Scribe: You offer Social Media Coaching for authors. What aspects of social media do you focus on and what can an author expect from completing the training?
MF: We have a Digital Media Coordinator who handles our social media & the platforms of our clients. The basic service offering is a coaching session where she will review what you’re currently doing online and find where the holes are, what you’re not currently taking advantage of or accessing and give you homework to strengthen your social media platforms. For those of us who aren’t social media experts, it’s just impossible to know how to make your presence as robust as possible.
Scribe: How important is it for an author to build a brand? And is it equally important for fiction as it is for nonfiction?
MF: It’s absolutely important for authors of any genre. You have so much competition in the market—for readers, for media attention, for publishing opportunities. That’s what folks are looking for—an author who is crystal clear about who they are and what they deliver. Don’t ever try to be all things to all people— it won’t work out in your favor.
Scribe: What are the one or two biggest publicity mistakes you see authors make?
MF: The most common these days is not taking advantage of utilizing a strong social media presence to fully push out the media hits they’re getting through traditional and online PR. First and foremost, you need to be appealing online to a media outlet. We can get their attention but the first thing they’ll do is look up the author’s website and social media platforms and if they’re not contemporary enough (website), thorough enough, or lack a following, our opportunity might be dead with that outlet.
Another common problem we see with self-published queries is a lack of understanding when it comes to media expectations and poor book cover design.
Scribe: What’s your biggest piece of advice for avoiding these mistakes?
MF: A. Get trained on how to create a more robust social media platform. B. Don’t expect a first-time self-published author to catch the eye of top-tier media. C. Spend time and money on a cover design that can compete with major publishing houses.
Scribe: Pick one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down.
MF:  I loved Austin author Clara Bensen’s No Baggage which comes out in January. I was able to review it for Texas Lifestyle Magazine’s winter issue (also out in January).
Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?
MF: We’ve been supporters of the WLT way back when I was at a different book publicity firm in the late 90s. We believe in helping our own and we’ve given away hundreds of hours in free advice over the years. We are happy to “pay it forward,” and do so on a regular basis. There’s a lot to know about this industry so it’s important to listen to the experts in the various areas. We enjoy working with Texans and know there’s a great deal of talent in our state.
Thanks, Marika!
Click here to visit PR by the Book’s website.
Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?
Community Membership is a great way to connect with the Writers’ League’s membership base and share news and information about writing-related services and events. For more information on Community Membership click here or call our office at (512) 499-8914.

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