I’ve been taking this Intro to PR class and we’ve been discussing the different facets of PR and the processes of PR in different fields and careers. I thought it would be fun to do my own research on PR & Publishing. I find the topic so fascinating and I’m always so interested in what goes on behind the scenes between authors, their publishing companies, and the PR buzz that surrounds their books. Sometimes an author does the majority of their buzz, but sometimes they have a big enough fanbase or a large PR campaign behind them. However, the author is almost always working on their own hype and buzz. I wanted to explore why that is. Let’s get into it! *
*All information is taken from my own experiences and from the sources listed below. All statistics and concrete lists and things are from experienced professionals and academics.
Are You Interested in Going into PR for a Publishing Career?
What does a PR agent do when in the publishing field?
According to Melissa Nguyen, the Publicity, Marketing, and Sales Manager at indie publishing company, The Experiment, most her responsibilities vary from day-to-day. However, the majority of her time is spent:
· “Writing promotional copy” (i.e. galleys, press releases, and pitch letters)
· Working with authors to plan publicity surrounding their work
· Designing promo materials
· Updating the websites and blogs
· Tracking the sales of the released works
· Acting as the liaison between the publisher, distributors, and sales representatives
These aren’t all of the jobs that a PR agent has in publishing but are some of the many.
So, you want to go into PR for publishing?
Many of my nerdy comrades are probably saying “Oh dang, this sounds like the perfect job for me! How do I prepare myself to have this kind of job in the future?” OR “I’d love to go to school to do this! What can I do?” You’re probably not asking those exact questions, but you’re probably wondering, right? Of course, you are! I’ll just answer your questions right now.
To have a job in publishing, it is recommended that you have at least a Bachelor’s in English, communications, journalism, or any other related field. You’re asked to have strong analytical, business, and marketing critical thinking skills. You can research the company that you’re looking to work with and they usually have the information you will need to prepare yourself.
Well, what can I do to further cement my likelihood of getting this job?
As a college student, I cannot give you tips that will definitely help you get into your preferred job, but here are some tips from other sources that I trust. I’m currently studying to get a job in publishing, so I’m going through this advice myself for the future.
- Complete an internship that is relevant to your future dream job. In my English program, it is required that you complete an internship outside of your regularly required classes. During the last semester and this semester, I’ve been a part of my campus’ academic journal. This internship has allowed me to acquire experience in a publishing setting and be a part of a team with like-minded goals. Being a part of a relevant internship allows you to gain knowledge of the career and to gain practical experience in the industry.
- Be ready and willing to start in a lower position. In most publishing settings, you typically start in a lower position and work your way up into the group as you gain experience, skills, and show your dedication to the group.
Information an Author Must Be Aware Of:
What is an author’s job when promoting their work(s)?
Since the boom of “author twitter” and “writing/writer twitter”, the processes of individual writers have been actively displayed to readers and the public world. Though authors have been doing their own PR since before the internet age, the processes that they go through have been blasted into the interwebs and captivated the bookish and the nerdy, alike. Many who aren’t actively in the bookish community do not realize the intense amount of work that an author does in their spare time and when they aren’t writing. Many newly published writers have asked “Why should the focus be on me? Why not my work? Why should I have to do all of this for free?” The answer isn’t simple or easy.
You’d think that the author could just sit back and enjoy the bliss of completing their revisions and wait for their release-bliss…NOPE! According to “The Guardian”, even Charles Dickens did his own PR! During his time, he managed to travel around Britain and Ireland and give 87 “’farewell readings.’”
What can I do to promote my book?
If you’re already a self-published author, you probably already realize the amount of effort that goes into getting your work out into the public sphere. It will not be easy, my friends! Here are some methods you can use to get your work out into the wild.
1. Start a blog! Having a platform allows you to get a reputation among the writing/reading/bookish community and allows you to interact with readers, bloggers, and social media personnel. As a book blogger, myself, it’s really great to see what kind of platform an indie author has because it shows their dedication to their craft and I can have a connection to them as a fellow writer. A blog is also a platform for your other social media. Always include:
· Information about your work
· Your social media links
· Information on where to read your work
Today, readers are interested in your writing process and your journey to publication. Continue to bare your soul to them and show them your dedication to your craft.
2. Don’t be afraid to leverage your work. If a blogger or reviewer isn’t interested in your book, take heart and keep searching. Ask around and see who is interested in your book. Ask the blogger! The majority of the bloggers I know are eager and happy to help authors promote their work or give you recommendations on who will enjoy your book. As a blogger veteran (4+ years, baby!), I’ve made many friends in the community and I’m always happy to point authors in the right direction when it comes to promoting their work. Some readers really do not enjoy some niches of books. We’re all diverse in reading tastes. Why not be kind and help others?
3. Invest your time in social media. The world is quite consumed by social media and taking advantage of the perks of each platform will bring attention to your work.
· Instagram: Post aesthetically pleasing photos of your book. Post stories on your writing process and publishing journey.
· Twitter: Post quips and advice for other writers. Make friends. Post photos! Share snippets of your characters or inspiring quotes.
· Goodreads: Host giveaways, share your inspiration, update your profile and book information.
Those are just some examples, but utilize your platforms and get to know your followers, friends, and viewers.
4. Don’t ignore the opinions of journalists. If a journalist approaches you, answer their message(s), provide information, and get back with them in a timely manner! These are the contacts that will benefit you in the future. HOWEVER, do NOT pester them. They are busy and appreciate their time. If they aren’t interested in your work, do not bug them for another chance. Take the rejection with grace. ALSO, do not treat them as a “one night stand”. Build relationships and reputations with the journalists you work with.
5. Be careful with what you put out.
- Do not overuse hashtags. Hashtags should always be used sparingly. If used improperly, you look desperate and unaware of social media etiquette.
- Do not tweet without fully thinking about the reception it will receive. When you are attempting to put your work into the world, you are going to be as professional as possible. In this case, Twitter is a business tool that should not be abused.
- Do not use fillers in your press releases. All press releases should be short, concise, and to-the-point.
Maintaining your reputation through so many mediums of social media can be a challenge. According to the blog: “Book Baby”, “being connected to a firm can show reviewers, publishers, and the media that you’re a serious author and that you mean business.
PR Firms and PR departments allow authors to have more flexibility. Because of their more accommodating budget, PR teams can do many things for authors that authors cannot feasibly do without extensive funds.
Some examples are:
- Setting up book tours
- Connecting with harder to reach media contacts (i.e. newspapers, other well-known authors, etc.)
- Book you for speaking events or release events
- Workshop messages that will reach the largest and most effective audience
- Book Baby Blog’s “What Book Publicity Can an Author Gain on Her Own (And Where Does a PR Firm Help Out?” by PR by the Book
- The Guardian’s “Why authors need to join the PR circus” by Ruth Killick
- Muck Rack’s “How bestselling authors run PR campaigns” by Muck Rack’s media relations
- Study.com’s “How to Become a Publisher: Step-by-Step Career Guide”
- C.S. Lewis & Co. Publicists’ “Book PR –Authors Should Avoid These 11 Mistakes” by Paul Blanchard
Whether you’re doing your own PR or you’re working with a firm, patience and perseverance are the key to success. You have to put in the extra effort to get the word out about your work and you cannot rely on others to do everything for you. Whether you’re an indie author or you’re being published with one of the major publishing companies, you need to be aware of what all goes into publishing a book. Writing the book is just the first step to publishing a successful tome.
~Liv the Book Nerd~