Ask the Publicist

Book publicity these days seems to be all about questions. Even clients who have logged thousands of media miles are calling to ask: do I need video on my web site, what do you think about using Skype to connect to book clubs, should we concentrate our efforts for the next book on social media? Does anyone really know what makes a book sell in the era of Facebook and Twitter ….. if you do, please call me.

I like to think my clients are lucky to have someone to ask -- even if my answer has to be, “I have absolutely no idea. But I’ll try and find out.” These days, most authors are left to navigate the publicity waters on their own and that often means setting off without a map or any real idea where they should be going. And that makes me angry. Too many wonderful books are doomed to failure simply because authors don’t have the money to hire a publicist.

So for the month of February, I’ll be open for questions. The only exception being, “how do I get on Oprah?” If I could have guaranteed that to my clients, I would now be retired on a beach in Maui. Other than that, ask away!


Joni Rodgers said…
Lucinda, thank you so much for doing this. I know it's going to be tremendously helpful. If you don't mind, I'm going to chime in and pass along some of the most common FAQs I get from aspiring/emerging writers.

To get the ball rolling: What are a few of the basic Dos and Don'ts for effective author websites?
Hi, Lucinda,
What a great opportunity! I'll be sure to pass it along to my writing friends.

Allison Brennan said…
Thanks Colleen for posting the link!

Hi Lucinda: my question is how to work the indie stores. I'm a NYT bestseller, have great quotes from major suspense/thriller authors, but because I'm in mass market, I have a very difficult time finding my books in indie stores. I convinced my publisher (Ballantine) a few books ago to do a big ARC mailing to all the mystery indies, and they did--but didn't feel they had a good enough response vis-a-vis orders to justify doing it again. I've used the MWA list to send out personally signed letters to indies with a bookmark (that has my backlist and contact info) offering to send them my new book--I sent 200 out, got NO response, so didn't send to the rest of the list.

I straddle genres (romantic suspense) but fall more heavily on the suspense side than the romance side. I know that indies have smaller sales than the venues I'm in, but I also know that the NYT list weighs sales at indies higher, so a small inroad into the indie stores would help on list placement.

So . . . I'm open to ideas. Ideas that I can get my publisher to do, or things to do myself. I just launched a new series, but because the last indie mailing wasn't successful per my publisher, they didn't try again. I'm still thinking about asking them to send out book one of the series before book three comes out . . . but doubt they will. Help! :)

Thanks for answering questions, I for one appreciate it!
Amanda Stevens said…
Hi Lucinda,
Thank you for doing this! I'm getting ready to do a snail-mailing to bookstores for my May release, which is the first book in a new series. I've had my advertising daughter come up with a cool design and concept(which will include a URL for a digital galley), but with email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., has a mailing like this become passé? I'm hoping it doesn't just get tossed in the trash. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Jessa Slade said…
A couple great questions so far. I'll be checking back thru February to read all your answers. Thank you for sharing your insights!

My Q: If you had one ARC to send out, where would you send it and why?
Marcia James said…
Hi, Lucinda, My question concerns strategies for promoting e-books vs. print books. Where would you suggest an e-book author spend her time and money?
Marilyn Brant said…
I'm so looking forward to reading your thoughts on all of these questions, Lucinda.

Mine is: Do you feel book giveaways on blogs or giving online interviews are effective strategies to increase sales or awareness of one's novels? Or is it only helpful (in a significant way) if the site gets above, let's say, 1,000 unique hits per day? Basically, what elements need to be aligned for online blog promotions to be a good time investment?
Vicky said…
Hi Lucinda,

I'm a debut author (w/a major print publisher) & after just finishing the whirlwind 1st book launch, I've got hunches about what was effective & what wasn't. I went into this with a high level objective: to increase Awareness (the Marketing Funnel). I've got tons of questions, but I'll limit it to just two for now.

#1 What is your opinion of book trailers? I hired a firm to make one after hearing the value is in the distribution. It posted on guest blogs, Amazon, B&N, my website, and my publisher's website. I think in conjunction with other efforts that it may have helped contribute to awareness. But it's relatively expensive (for me at any rate!). Before I spend more of my hard-earned $$ on another one, what is your opinion of book trailers?

#2 What are your Top 5 recommendations to Debut Authors?

Thanks in advance! Looking forward to reading all of your responses.
Diane_Holmes said…
Dear Lucinda,

As the founder of Pitch University (, my focus is how writers can improve their skills at pitching their books, including to READERS.

So, my question is this: What are the most effective approaches (best examples you've heard) of "pitching" your own book to readers?

It really comes done to, "What can an author say (especially in person) that really makes a sale and convinces a reader to buy?"

Most of the advice out there is way, way to general. "Let your passion shine," is not actually something that helps make a writer more effective, because the answer is, "But I am!"

Every novel has a plot (in the case of fiction), so just reciting the plot isn't the "thing" that converts a random reader into your reader. And saying it's "really, really good," doesn't help either. ;)

So, we'd love to hear your thoughts!

I'll send our Pitch University writers over here. They're eager for solid advice. Thank you and thanks to Boxing the Octopus!

Diane Holmes,
Founder Pitch U

As everyone else has said, thank you for doing this. I'm freelance journalist with hundreds of published articles to my credit. I'm also working on a non-fiction that will be out this summer.

However, my real passion is for my fiction writing in YA and MG. I'm finalizing revisions on my YA Fantasy and it is a month away from submitting to agents.

My questions for you is this: Since I dapple in various writing areas should I have one site that encompasses them all (branding me as a mutli-genre writer and adding to my name recognition and brand) or should I keep my different writing ares seperate?

I just started a blog where I am cross-promoting my national freelance contracts and talking about writer issues that apply to the art of the craft and therefore touches on my non-fiction and fiction work. Do you agree with this strategy? I'm open to and look forward to your suggestions.

Thank you!

Natalie C. Markey
Gerry Bartlett said…
Hi, Lucinda,
Thanks for doing this. Obviously you already have a week's worth of questions here but I'll throw one more at you. How do you get your publisher to put more behind push behind your books? My experience has been that no matter what I do, if I don't get a bigger print run and publisher support, none of it matters. Any thoughts on squeezing things out of a publisher? They already pay for new release table space but that's about it. Again, thanks for sharing your wisdom. We really appreciate it!
Jeanna Thornton said…
Colleen, thank you for this post. You are amazing!

Lucinda, thank you for the opportunity to chat. I am an aspiring/emerging writer of women's fiction. Since both of my questions have been asked, I am here to listen! I look forward to your comments.
All I did was help publicize, Jeanna. Our friend Lucinda's doing all the heavy lifting. But thanks so much. We appreciate the kind words!
Alma said…
Another debut novelist here thanking you for your posts. My book comes out in July and even though my publisher has promised lots of support I want to do everything possible to maximize the novel's chances for success, while not driving the in-house publicist crazy.

Here's an oddball question: my book is coming out in the UK first. Is there anything I can do from the US to help spread word of mouth?

And ditto the request for top five recommendations for debut authors.

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