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“Bring continued exposure” to make a book a bestseller, an interview with Sara Connell & publicist Cindy Birne

The key is to bring continued awareness and exposure to a new book. Repetition, repetition, repetition. After all, what’s the point of having a book if nobody knows it exists! As part of my series on the “5 Things You Need To Know To Write A Bestselling Book” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy […]


The key is to bring continued awareness and exposure to a new book. Repetition, repetition, repetition. After all, what’s the point of having a book if nobody knows it exists!

As part of my series on the “5 Things You Need To Know To Write A Bestselling Book” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Birne.

Cindy Birne of Dallas,Texas, President of Cindy Birne Public Relations, brings over 30 years of extensive experience specializing in book publicity, promotion, marketing, advertising, and media placement representing NY Times bestselling authors and award winning titles covering all genres.

With a working knowledge of the publishing industry, Cindy offers in-depth insight into what it takes to give a book a chance of becoming a bestseller. She has collaborated with royalty publishing houses and indie publishers, top editors, writers, cover designers, and in-house publicity and marketing teams, social media professionals in support of new titles coming up the pipeline. In addition, she has collaborated with major motion picture studios including Paramount and Fox Searchlight on cross-promotional events with their in-house publicity teams, and has maintained a strong working relationship with members of the media on a national and global level.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

I began my professional career with one of the top leading advertising agencies, before finding my true calling in public relations with the Dallas Cowboys Football Team under the leadership and mentorship of then president and general manager, Texas E. Schramm. Mentored by the best, I learned the ins and outs of the sports and entertainment business while honing my skills in publicity, promotion, marketing and advertising representing the Dallas Cowboys.

When current owner Jerry Jones purchased the team, I transitioned into sports marketing as Director of Public Relations of a sports marketing company and began representing high-profile athletes in the NFL, the NBA, the National Baseball Association, the NHL, and Olympic Volleyball athletes, and coordinating major sports and charitable events, securing corporate sponsors, coordinating press conferences, and securing media coverage.

After meeting renowned literary agent, Jan Miller, I was presented with the opportunity to exchange high-profile athletes for bestselling authors including Anthony Robbins and the late Stephen R. Covey to become the Director of Public Relations for Dupree-Miller, Literary, Inc., and thus began my education into the publishing industry. There was apparent need to fill a void within the publicity and marketing side of the publishing industry to ensure bringing continued awareness in support of new books once the in-house publicity and marketing teams had completed their part of the book journey.

Today I continue to represent high-profile authors, and bestselling authors covering all book genres as the head of Cindy Birne Public Relations.

What was (so far) the most exhilarating or fulfilling experience you’ve had as an author?

As a book publicist it has been exhilarating to represent a variety of fascinating authors including Anthony Robbins, Four-Time Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Hugh Aynesworth, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert W. Jordan, renowned NFL journalist and NY Times bestselling author Gary Myers, philanthropists, CEOs, physicians, attorneys, athletes, children’s book authors and famous chefs. The biggest pleasure is scoring huge media hits for each on a local, regional, national, and global level.

What was the craziest, weirdest, wildest experience you’ve had as a bestselling author?

One of the craziest and ongoing experiences I’ve had as a book publicist is working around the clock with producers and editors on a moments notice to coordinate guest interviews for former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert W. Jordan, who continues to be a sought after resource and frequent commentator addressing issues in the Middle East, Saudi/US relations and the impact on the financial markets. His book Desert Diplomat was released in 2015, yet to this day I make sure his book is mentioned and the cover image is flashed across the screen in his introduction for every national and international news program. I’m a one-person operation on that front with the relief of a new producing team taking over. I have always provided personalized attention to my authors, and remain hands-on to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Equally thrilling was representing Four-Time Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Hugh Aynesworth. Working on his book NOVEMBER 22, 1963: Witness to History tying into the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, where I grew up. It was a whirlwind of media activity that was both thrilling and fulfilling.

Additionally exciting has been switching from hard news one day to sports media the next or sometimes both in one day. Sometimes a human interest story comes into play the same day too. Working Super Bowl Media Week during Super Bowl 50 and 51 was beyond thrilling. Now I a promoting two new books by a NY Times bestselling author on the Dallas Cowboys and the history behind the founders of the NFL among other new titles.

What is the greatest part about being a successful, bestselling author? What is the worst (if anything) part?

The greatest part about representing bestselling authors, or helping to establish new bestselling authors is scoring big media hits on national and international programming: hard news like Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNNi, Bloomberg News, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS, BBC, the NY Times,WSJ, Washington Post, and international print/online news outlets; and sports coverage on ESPN, the NFL Network, Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio, ABC Sports Radio, as well as regional and local sports media outlets. Scoring media hits on behalf of an author when you least expect it is the icing on the cake. For example, the cover story of the November issue of MONEY Magazine.

The worst part is putting forth your best effort on behalf of a new book project, and still finding it hard to gain sufficient traction to enhance book sales. I have learned that scoring the best publicity, marketing, and promotional efforts possible, it doesn’t guarantee a book will become a bestseller. The publishing industry has changed so much over the past many years it hard to gauge what will move the book sales needle. Social Media has played a significant role in bringing awareness to new books and branding thereof.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer?

Speaking on behalf of my authors, I have found the authors who can put their egos aside, hit the pavement by introducing themselves to bookstore managers and owners, keep books in their car at all times, are willing to accept a radio, TV, Podcast, newspaper, or magazine interview even it’s not a national or international outlet, and willing to work with me as a teammate on thinking up new ideas, angles, and strategy makes a big difference.

The key is to bring continued awareness and exposure to a new book. Repetition, repetition, repetition. After all, what’s the point of having a book if nobody knows it exists!

Which writer or leader has had the biggest impact on you as a writer?

As a publicist, the authors who have had the greatest impact on me are the ones who trust and respect my abilities to produce results, who understand I do my best work when I can fly, and who have patience. Realistic expectations need to be considered too. These authors inspire, and motivate me to work hard on their behalf. I welcome a challenge. The harder it is the sweeter the reward. I always go the extra mile for every author I represent, because I want to succeed to the best of my ability to ensure their success.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author?

My biggest challenge was learning it’s not personal when a producer, journalist, editor, or writer/reporter is not interested in a story I am pitching. When they are interested they instantly bite. I’ve learned that tenacity coupled with enthusiasm and maintaining a professional attitude gets the job done. When I score a hit, I take responsibility in making their jobs as easy possible by providing them with whatever they need as quickly and as efficiently as possible. I have a successful track record that supports my efforts.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career?

My biggest challenge as a publicist was learning how to talk in sound-bites! 🙂 I talk fast, and have a lot to say, but I’ve nailed it down. My enthusiasm also helps to opens doors, and gets people to listen. Having confident plays a essential role as well.

What are the 5 things a writer needs to know if he/she wants to become a bestselling author?

1. They need to be able to present a polished proposal to present literary agents and publishers for publishing consideration. They need to also understand that all good writers have great editors.

2. A solid summary of their story content coupled with a marketing, publicity, and social media platform.

3. A good chapter outline

4. Three sample chapters.

5. Author Bio

What are the 5 things you would tell your younger self who was just starting out on their journey as a publicist

1. Cindy Birne, you have the ability to do it all: publicity, promotion, marketing, advertising, event coordinator, press conference coordinator, securing sponsor, and media coverage. I once interviewed for a position with the top guy at the Texas Rangers Baseball Club that wasn’t available at the time. However, I wanted him to know I existed should the opportunity present itself. After two plus grueling hours, he told me I was the best interview he had ever had, because every time he would circle back to me and ask me what position I would take, I said I can do them all, so I didn’t want to limit myself!

2. Believe in yourself.

3. Capitalize on your contacts.

4. Have confidence and stop underestimating your abilities.

5. Finally, and to borrow a line from the movie WORKING GIRL, “Who makes it happen? YOU make it happen.”

What are you most excited to work on next? Most excited to read next?

I am always excited about new and inspiring book projects I agree to take on. However, I remain loyal to my current authors working just as hard. I love the variety of book genres across the board. I am always up for a challenge and constantly learn something new every day. 

Side bar: I know which book genres work best for me and which ones to decline. I cannot sincerely promote a book I do not understand or feel passion about.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

I initially dreamed of becoming the head of publicity of a major motion picture studio. In my role as a publicist, the closest I came in the past was working for the Dallas Cowboys. However, to day, I get to work with the in-house publicity and marketing teams at a number of major motion studios on cross-promotional projects. In addition, I work with publicists and agents at the top talent agencies in L.A., NYC, and now Nashville. Of course, I get to collaborate with in-house publicity and marketing teams within the royalty publishing houses too. My motto is; “As long as I’m still breathing there is still hope.” For now I’m in a great place!

Thank you so much for these great insights!


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