Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest post: Increase Book Exposure Through Author Speaking Engagements

Increase Book Exposure Through Author Speaking Engagements

Increase Book Exposure Through Author Speaking Engagements

By Sarah Bolme

One surefire way to spread the word about a book is for the author to embark on a public speaking campaign. Authors who pursue speaking engagements gain more attention for their books. Some authors have single-handedly propelled their books to bestseller status through traveling and speaking nationwide on a continual basis.

Even if an author does not have the ability to travel and speak extensively due to other life commitments, don't overlook this important aspect of book marketing. Authors willing to do even a few speaking engagements will develop a loyal reader base and increase their books' sales.

Getting Started

A good place for authors to start speaking on their book's topic is through local bookstores and libraries. Many bookstores (especially Borders and Barnes & Noble) will host short seminars by authors for their patrons. Libraries do this also. Authors who take advantage of these opportunities can sell autographed copies of their books after these events and boost their sales.

Non-fiction authors usually have a built-in topic for speaking. However, fiction and children's book authors can create opportunities for speaking. For example, children's book authors can volunteer to read their children's book at a bookstore or library during National Literacy Month (September). An author of a young adult fiction title can volunteer to lead a short seminar for teens on fiction writing at a local library. Authors of mystery novels can take advantage of Barnes & Nobles' October Mystery Month. These ideas are just a few of the many opportunities that can be created for authors to schedule speaking engagements to promote their books.

While developing a public speaking business takes time, speaking publicly can pay off for those authors who undertake this aspect of their book marketing campaign. Initially, authors generally will need to speak for free and use each speaking engagement to sell books. However, once a speaking business is established, authors can begin to charge for their speaking services.

If an author has no previous speaking experience or is fearful of the idea of speaking in front of a group of people, consider getting some training in public speaking through reading books on speaking or taking classes. One good place to gain know-how and confidence in public speaking is through joining a local Toastmasters club .

Securing Speaking Engagements

Speaking engagements must be cultivated and pursued. Opportunities only drop into the laps of those authors who have built the speaking side of their profession over time. Most new speakers will have to spend time cultivating speaking engagements.

All sorts of events feature authors as speakers. Authors can seek out speaking engagements through identifying specific events and groups geared toward their book's target audience as potential speaking venues. For example, a book on healthy dating habits for teens could lead to speaking engagements at middle- and high-schools as well as community and church youth groups.

When an event or group has been identified as a potential speaking venue, the next step is for the author to contact the group's organizers and present an author bio and speaking topic with synopsis for consideration.


How many books can you sell through speaking engagements? The number all depends on the event, the speaker, and the audience. Whether the book sales total three or three hundred, remember that each speaking engagement is exposure. And exposure builds on itself to produce future book sales.

Sarah Bolme, is the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace ( and the director of Christian Small Publishers Association ( �2007

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Authors Should Do Book Signing Events

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One of the hottest tickets in the author book signing world right now is for rock star Ozzy Osbourne's latest book, Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate Survivor.

  Each of his book signing events has been met with readers camping out in line, lines going around the block outside the bookstores and bookstores issuing wristbands to guarantee readers a place in line.  Ozzy's book entered the NY Times Best Sellers List at #12.

But, this isn't the experience of most authors and their book signing events.  The average bookstore signing event results in about six books being sold.  There usually is no line around the block, and customers at the store may be indifferent to the fact a book signing is being held at all.

The difference is Ozzy Osbourne has a platform from which to launch his book.  He is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, pioneered the heavy metal rock sound with his former band, Black Sabbath, and has been performing since the late 1960's.  He and his family also had a TV show you may have heard of, "The Osbournes."  His book probably would have been a bestseller even if he had done no book signing events at all.

The reason he is doing book signings is simple.  It's not for the book sales or the money.  It's for the publicity.  Each book signing event is another opportunity for him to talk about his book, connect with is fans, and get media attention, which does drive more book sales.

Chances are, you are not a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, or have legions of fans who have followed you for the past 40 years.  That is even more reason to do book signing events, speaking engagements and any other event that will put you in front of readers.  You may not sell 200 books at a book signing event (although I work with many authors who have), but the events are a way of introducing you, and your book, to new readers that you may not have reached otherwise.

I often have authors tell me "I'm not going to waste my time with book signing events.  I'm just going to market my book online."  The problem with this is they don't know who to market their book to online.  They build a web site, join groups on Facebook and Tweet "buy my book!" to 100 or so followers on Twitter.  Those activities are fine, and might result in a few sales, but they should be done in addition to, not instead of, book signing and author events.

We have a saying in my marketing department:  "Events sell books."  Over the past six years, I have seen it time and time again:  the authors who do the most book signing and author events sell the most books.  The authors who are not very active with events are the authors whose books are not selling well, and they are also the authors that tend to complain about their royalty statements the most.

Yes, you will run out of friends and family to invite to your events.  That is why authors need to constantly be networking outside of their circle of acquaintances.  This is where the "marketing online" comes in, but also getting out and meeting new people through signings, speaking engagement and other personal appearances.  Use each appearance to generate additional events.  Mention to the groups you are speaking to that you are available to speak to other groups with which the members might be affiliated.  I have had more than one author tell me "I only sold two books at my event last weekend, but I got two speaking events lined up as a result of talking to customers."  I have had authors tell me that it "costs too much money" for them to drive to book signing events, and then turn around and spend several hundred dollars on a newspaper ad (against my advice).  Unfortunately, the ads rarely generate sales, whereas the book signing events probably would have.

If book signing events weren't worth doing, the celebrity authors like Ozzy Osbourne wouldn't bother doing them.  Every new author has to start somewhere in terms of building their platform, and book signing and author events play a major part.  Think of the events as your introduction to the book-buying public and a publicity activity...and yes, an opportunity to sell your book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Deal With Bad Reviews

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do. - Benjamin Franklin

Every now and then, not often, but a few times a year, I receive a panicked call or email from an author which goes something like this:

"I just noticed that someone left a terrible review of my book on (or some other online bookseller).  How can we get it removed?"

Well, the short answer is:  you can't.  Customers are able to leave reviews of your book on most any bookselling web site, and you may as well get used to the idea now that not all of those reviews are going to be positive.  That's just the nature of the business.  That doesn't mean people can go on these sites and attack you personally, but they can just about say anything they want about your book.

The great thing about the Internet is that it allows anyone to go online and instantly communicate anything they want to say.  The bad thing about the Internet is that is allows anyone to go online and instantly communicate anything they want to say.  Some people say things online that they would never say to someone face-to-face.  The anonymity of the Internet gives them free reign to say mean things.

Take this one-star book review from, for example:  "The character development was shoddy, unrelatable and unbelievable, the plot kept changing along with character perspectives the actually story never really getting anywhere, it was written as if it was a bunch of stories that someone decided to string together with random sentences and pieces of other stories."

The book being reviewed?   The Holy Bible.

When you publish a book, you are putting a piece of yourself on public display.  Just as in everything else in life, not everyone is going to like you, or your book.  Book reviews are subjective.  Opinions will vary from person to person.  In the not-so-subtle words of my company commander from Navy boot camp:  "Opinions are like a hole in your butt.  Everybody has one, and some of them stink." 

I once shot a TV commercial for a radio station where I used to work.  The kindest review I read about it was "Terry doesn't look as old as I thought he was."  Another review contained the world "yuck."  The local newspaper named it "The Best Worst Local TV Commercial" in its year-end edition.  My morning show's ratings were increasing, so I got a chuckle out of the reviews.  When you are in a public position like radio announcer (or author) you've got to have a thick skin.  

So, what can you do when your book gets a bad review?  Should you respond to bad reviews online?  My recommendation is "no." Why throw fuel on the fire?   Let the positive (and negative) reviews speak for themselves.  When your readers contact you to tell you they like your book, encourage them to leave a fair and honest (and hopefully positive) review on Amazon, and other book review and bookselling sites.  Let your loyal readers be your cheerleaders. 

Don't let negative book reviews get you down, and don't let them dissuade you from writing more books.  Every author has received bad reviews for their books.  It happens to everyone.

Just ask the guy who wrote the Holy Bible. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest Post: What Should Your "Promotional Tagline" Be?

In my role as the head of a PR firm, one of the most common misconceptions I see has to do with the superlatives people choose to describe themselves. Now, I'm not referring to how the media positions someone, but rather how someone seeking publicity wants to refer to him or herself.
I once overheard my senior strategist, Tony Panaccio, having a conversation with a client about what their tagline should be. It went something like this:
Client: So, what should I call myself?
Tony: I'm not sure what you mean.
Client: Well, when I identify myself to the media.
Tony: Well, your name is Jim, right (not the actual name)?
Client: Yeah.
Tony: So, why don't we stick with that? It’s short, concise and happens to be, you know, your name.
Client: That’s not what I meant. I was trying to think of something catchy.
Tony: Okay, how about “James?”
It went on like that for a bit, until Tony was able to explain to the client that it’s not kosher to try to “name” yourself to the media.

Taglines can work well for people who have their own radio or TV shows, but for those just breaking into the spotlight, it actually has the reverse effect than intended. The media is a cynical, somewhat sensitive league of professionals, not unlike Tony, actually. When they see a name they've never seen before with a tagline they've never seen before, it strikes them as odd and out of place. In fact, many will turn their noses up at those self-made designations.

We often get folks who want to attach all kinds of superlative descriptions of themselves in their bios like “genius,” “brilliant,” “guru.”  The point is that those in the media will come up with the nicknames and catchy taglines as they see fit, once they have come to understand that person’s experience is real. They are the ones who get to determine who the gurus are and not the prospective gurus themselves. 

Further along those lines, some have tried to attach the terms “groundbreaking,” “innovative” and even “spectacular” to describe their products or their books. The problem is that the media feels they are the ones who will determine if someone or something fits those descriptions. When people are positioned that way as part of a pitch or an article, it can be offensive and it immediately raises the question as to the validity of that designation. That’s why using superlatives about yourself in order to establish your credibility, typically results in exactly the opposite effect.

That’s why I don't call myself anything like “The PR Mechanic” or “The Marketing Maven,” as others in my industry call themselves. It’s not for me to make those calls. It’s up to you and the media to determine that I’m deserving of some kind of title to show my expertise.

In the meantime, feel free to call me Marsha. All my friends do and you’re far more likely to get my attention.

Marsha Friedman launched EMSI Public Relations in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. Some of the more prominent names on her client roster are Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and the famous Motown Group, the Temptations.
She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Post: 10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

By Dorothy Thompson

By now, most authors know what virtual book tours are or at least have heard of them. They're that wonderful marketing tool that should be a must have in every new book's campaign. With each new book I write, I'm making a game plan before the book is even published and a virtual book tour is the first promotional venue on that list.
While most of us know what they are, there are still a few new authors who might have heard of them but have no idea what they involve. I give you my top 10 things you need to know about virtual book tours so that you will know what to expect.
  1. Virtual book tours are the BEST way to get the MOST online exposure for your book. Not only are you presenting your book and yourself to thousands of people, all of your interviews, guest posts and reviews are archived which means months down the road, you're still selling your book because of that one tour.
  2. Virtual book tours ARE a lot of work. Not only are you searching for the perfect blogs to host you, you are acting as the middle man between you and the blogger unless you are using a paid service such as Pump Up Your Book who will do all the work for you. Even if you do sign up with Pump Up Your Book, there is still lots of work to do completing assignments - filling out interviews and writing guest posts unless you choose an all review tour. Even though it requires a little bit of your time to fill out interviews and write guest posts, it's well worth it.
  3. You will learn more about your book than you ever did. I had an author tell me that through the interviews and guest posts she had to complete, she never learned so much about her book which caught her off guard. Now when she is interviewed on radio shows and makes television appearances, she is better prepared.
  4. Virtual book tours will build up your author platform. No matter if you're a fiction author or a nonfiction author, virtual book tours will build up your author platform using your key search words.
  5. Your reviews are guaranteed. Offline publicists while they mean well do it all wrong. They query a book blogger, make arrangements to send the book, then that's where it stops. The review is not a guaranteed thing. The reviewer can post the review anytime they see fit. With virtual book tours, your review is guaranteed on a certain date unless the reviewer jumps ship which rarely happens. I had an author tell me she signed up with an offline publicist who sent out many books and only one or two reviewers actually came through for them. That was money loss for the author. Books don't come cheap these days so coming up with a date you and the reviewer can agree upon guarantees that review will be a given thing.
  6. Many reviewers now take ebooks which save you money. Thank goodness someone was smart enough to invent a device that automatically loads a book in a few seconds (no waiting to go to the book store anymore my friend) and makes it fun to read. When Amazon lowered their price of the Kindle, sales soared and book lovers started talking about getting one. What that means is that it opened up a wonderful way to get these books to the book reviewers quickly and less expensively. Have you noticed how much books are and how much it takes to ship them? Not saying all reviewers will take ebooks, but as time goes on, most will have an e-reader and, as a matter of fact, will prefer an ebook.
  7. More website hits, more blog hits, more Twitter hits and more Facebook Fan Page hits. All authors should have a website or blog and accounts at Twitter and Facebook. No matter if you think they're all a waste of time. A virtual book tour will definitely give you more hits at all places as long as your links are in your bio.
  8. Going on a virtual book tour raises your Alexa rankings. What is Alexa? Alexa measures how well you are doing in the search engines. By going on a virtual book tour, and including interviews and guest posts during that tour, your website and blog links are included in every bio (or should be!). Those are incoming links which Alexa uses to measure your ranking. The more your website or blog link shows up on other sites, the more valuable your site is to them and thus, your rankings soar.
  9. You will learn how to sell your book through media exposure. Not all authors take advantage of their interviews and guest posts by gearing them toward their audience, thus luring them to their book and/or website/blog. I've had many authors on tour and the ones who really take the time to make their interviews and guest posts effective selling tools are the ones who profit the most. The key thing here is to make your audience curious. One liners in the case of interviews may not cut it. Of course there are only so many ways you can answer "What's your book about?" but take your time and get your audience's curiosity peaked so that they do make your way over to your website or your book's buying link.
  10. Virtual book tours teach you how to connect well with others. There is no better way to learn how to network. All these wonderful book bloggers who agree to host you are your new friends in your extended network and they will be there for you the next time you have a book to promote (unless they completely hated it of course). You'll also learn how to use the social networks effectively as you study how to get people over to your stops by persuasive wording. Remember to talk to your audience, not at them.
There you have it. 10 reasons I feel you need to know about virtual book tours in a nutshell. If you have a tour coordinator as opposed to setting one up yourself, she will walk you through it so that it will be a fun experience for all. Your book will thank you for it.

Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book!, a public relations agency specializing in online book promotion. You can visit her website at

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