October’s Third Thursday Wrap Up: “An Author’s Guide to PR & Marketing”

By Lexie Smith

“Hey! Did you hear about my book? “

“I’m writing a book. It’s gonna be awesome.”

“Please buy my book. “

Pestering your friends, family, and foes is one kind of marketing, but the “I’ll buy your book so you’ll shut up” sale is not public relations gold.

Thankfully, there are ways that are more effective and, dare I say, enjoyable.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Marika Flatt, Jennifer Hill, and Dominic Smith, were the experienced panel of authors and communication professionals who inspired us during  October ‘s Third Thursday program at Recycled Reads, Austin Public Library’s invigorating used bookstore. Here’s a quick recap.

Helping Dr. Author and Mr. Marketer Coexist

You may be intimidated or simply not like the idea of being a business, but a split personality is not required to promote your writing career.  Writer you and PR you are both you. (And neither is as nasty as Mr. Hyde.) These tips can help the one you do both things needed to sell your work.

Guard your active writing time. Whatever time of day works for you, protect it. Marketing and PR must be additional time in your schedule, but don’t let it cut it into time spent on your primary writing projects.

Manage your marketing time.  Jennifer suggested you divide your marketing time between writing marketing content, and interacting on the social network(s) you’re a part of.

Improve your writing while marketing.  Always Capra helped Jennifer strengthen her character development and social media muscles at the same time. Blogs give you more space to do that, while Twitter’s 140 character limit requires conciseness. (Especially if U R going 2 limit textspeak, by choice or need.  LOL.)

Realize the value of industry professionals. Do-it-yourself technology (blogs, Twitter and Facebook) makes it easier and cheaper than ever for authors to connect with readers. However, at some point, you can benefit from the experience and industry relationships of public relations professionals. To get an idea of what they offer, from a consult to a full marketing plan, visit Marika’s at PR by the Book and Jennifer ‘s services at Robin Hill Media.

This is How They Do It

Take a look at a few authors who do marketing and PR well. When you see something you like, try to incorporate it into your plan.

Marika mentioned how well author Bryan Davis uses Facebook to connect.  He responds to all comments and even alters his book tour according to suggestions from his fans.  He has several books and over 3,000 Facebook “Likes” for his page.

Jennifer started her Always Capra blog out of boredom. Her character Capra was also active on Facebook and Twitter.  An agent noticed and Jennifer was signed to write a novel.

Billy Coffey has one book under his belt with another coming out November 2011. Marika noted the strength of his online presence. He uses WordPress for his site, which includes a blog and links to his Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can also see a list of interviews he has done.

What’s Next?

All the PR skills you develop will help with the next step of building your book, the book launch, which happens to be November’s Third Thursday topic, “Blast off: The Book Launch & Beyond.” Join us on November 17 for for the conclusion of our “Building Your Book” series.

(My apologies to Dominic Smith for not mentioning him more often. Due to traffic, I missed the first half of the meeting, so I didn’t hear him speak as much.  If any of you were there and would like to leave a comment to fill in the gaps, please do. Thanks.)

Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.comBloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.

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