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Is DIY Book Publicity Right for You?

Doing your own book publicity can be a daunting challenge.


Doing your own book publicity can be a daunting challenge.

A recent New York Times article (“Improving Your Public Relations Without a Public Relations Firm”) got me thinking about do-it-yourself book publicity. And as an author, new or seasoned, you may even be considering the idea for yourself.

But is DIY publicity right for you? Or would your book, not to mention your business and brand, be better served by you hiring an expert?

Yes, cost is a consideration. Today, though, there are scores of skilled solopreneurs and small firms whose fees won’t break the bank. As you consider being a do-it-yourselfer—an author, media strategist, content developer, and publicist all in one—I’d recommend also weighing this: what an expert can do for you smarter, faster, and better.

Here are some essential elements of a successful publicity campaign, ones that a good book publicist will be able to accomplish for you:

Establish objectives. Of course you want to sell books. But what about the bigger picture? How can book publicity serve your larger business goals and objectives?

Identify targets. Pinpoint the specific audiences you want to reach and by which mediums and outlets you can best reach them.

Develop the big idea and so-what. Succinctly answer two critical questions about your book: “What is it about?” and “Why should we care?”

Create content, content, content. Bring your ideas to life in media pitches, press materials, bylined articles, blog posts, and more. Link your key messages to the real world, making them practical and actionable.

Illuminate the headlines. Connect your work to the day’s hot topics—emerging issues and trends, breaking news and newsmakers, and current events.

Challenge conventional wisdom. Put forth contrary or counterintuitive  viewpoints. Push back on the status quo. Debunk misguided myths.

Pitch smart. Approach the right contacts at the right outlets in the right way. Leverage longtime, hard-earned relationships with media decision makers and influencers.

Determine what success looks like. Publicity outcomes generally can’t be measured, so it’s important to establish your own metrics. Only then can you really recognize—and celebrate—success.

Determine what success looks like. Publicity outcomes generally can’t be measured, so it’s important to establish your own metrics. Only then can you really recognize—and celebrate—success.

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