Discoverability and the New World of Book PR
Cal Reid @CalReid
Senior News Editor
Publishers Weekly
Barbara Henricks
@Barbara Henricks
President, Cave Henricks Communications
Hollis Heimbouch
Vp, Publisher, Harper Business
Rusty Shelton
President Shelton Interactive
  • There are at least 300,000 new titles. It’s not possible to promote or even report on books in the same way.
    • Anything with a screen is a now a chance to read a book
    • Seemingly inexhaustible supply of book content.
  • We’re inundated with opportunities to discover new talent. 
    • The effect of finding authors much earlier in their career, means there is much more work to develop the author. It’s the same work, just more emphasis.
  • In the age of digital retail, are there clear strategies for helping readers find their books
    • Many journalists get 100 books a day, 800 emails a day.
    • Challenge: cutting through the noise.
    • Where once you sent out hundreds of books, now…
    • Really dig in and find an audience of 50 people that are really relevant, and send them really customized pitches.
  • Most exciting time to be an author.
    • At intersection of three industries that are all rapidly transforming: book publishing, journalists, and PR.
    • In 2008, 1 in 4 media jobs evaporated.
    • And that was before the recession. Now maybe it’s 1 in 2.
    • So journalists have far less time to cover anything.
    • Journalists: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
    • When a journalist is looking for someone in your speciality area, making sure that you can be found when they are looking for an expert. Google is your friend. Instead of pushing info out to journalists, be interesting enough online that you’re the obvious answer when the journalist is going out.
  • Really use online reviews and interviews to build the swell and momentum. 
  • Authors must have this relationship with journalists long before they submit their final manuscript.
  • An author should start building their audience the minute they conceive of their book
  • Instead of going directly to a huge audience, go to the influencers who already have that audience, and build relationships with them. 
  • We’re in a bookstore 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Several years ago: 59% of people who went into a bookstore knew exactly what book they were going to buy before they went in.
    • But now we’re in a bookstore all the time. 
    • And there is infinite supply
  • There are 11,000 business books published each year.
    • The NYT is cutting their number of reviews of business books from 24 a year to 12 a year.
    • It’s not a viable strategy to pursue a NYT review.
    • You have to pursue non-traditional media, and you need to create as many opportunities as possible.
  • Start the viral effort on your own.
    • If people ask how they can help: a review on Amazon, a blog post, here’s five questions I could answer for you.
  • Good PR helps bad books fail faster.
    • Ten years ago it took a long time for people to discover when a book was bad.
  • Give people an action item, an interactive campaign, that encourages people to extend the campaign: You want something more than just “it’s a great book” (although that is good).
    • A Thousand Gifts: great book in which author talks about a thousand gifts in her life. It naturally encouraged readers to do the same, which meant that it wasn’t just a single mention of the book (“it’s great”), but a thousand mentions of the book, as readers publicly articulated a 1,000 gifts for themselves. 
    • You want to build a movement
      • (Note to self: Is there a movement around artificial intelligence and robots?)
  • As authors, it’s particularly important, especially for 1st and 2nd book: there’s a real finite time when there will be publicity around the book. it’s the first 60 to 90s.
    • if you go on the air to give an interview: you want to mention the book, but you also want to encourage people to connect with you online.
    • Not just “go to my website”, but some kind of offer:
      • an assessment
      • an online test
      • free material online
    • When you think about website and social media presence, you want to grow an audience in your topic area, even if they aren’t ready to buy a book today.
  • If you don’t take social media presence seriously, you will need to rebuild from scratch for each book that comes out, because you’ll have lost interest in between.
  • How does the rise of reading on mobile devices help or hinder?
  • Questions
    • Q: How about a limited budget for online advertisements?
      • Rusty Shelton: Facebook advertising. You can get people to like the page, creating long term relationship. You can target very specific interests.
      • Hollis: Facebook. On a limited budget, it’s not possible to establish enough impressions with traditional media.
    • Q: Are book videos helpful?
      • Most effective is an interview that’s been broadcast somewhere. It’s short, it shows people.
      • For a very compelling author, a book trailer. It can lead to national exposure.
      • Not helpful: long speeches. The media doesn’t have the attention span for something more than 3 minutes.
    • Q: What about social networks besides Facebook and Twitter?
      • Pinterest: coming up with creative ways to reach your audience: young females is a great reader audience. Pinterest is like a visual twitter. If you give people a way to extend the book with quotes or action items.
      • Many people using Pinterest toolbar, which pulls the images to the front: As author, you need to examine what happens, what the images are, if they are helpful.
      • Google Plus: Have authorship attached to your profile. Google’s search pulling in Plus profile data to display next to articles in search results. Read up on the code needed to ensure that this happens.
    • Q: What about authors that don’t want to do all this work?
      • Most authors that don’t have social media presence come in with bias against it. But within a couple of weeks, these people are striking up relationships.
      • Don’t pull people kicking and screaming to it. 
      • “Will you commit to give an hour a week?”
      • Then work to make that as valuable an hour as possible.
      • If they won’t do any social media, do things that feel traditional:
        • podcasts
        • webinars
    • Q: I use Pinterest for wedding pictures and parties. 
      • That’s hard to connect a book readership to.
      • But you can do: quotes that inspire them. more text based.
    • Q: What would drive, someone who didn’t create a book, to promote that book? What truly inspired them to promote a book?
      • It’s passion: When you are inspired by a book, then you want to promote that book.
    • Q: ? (something around what’s coming and how to prepare)
      • Publishers who are signing up for books now, don’t even know what capabilities they will have in 12 months when that book comes out.
      • Perhaps in the future: it will be more like a subscription to someone’s knowledge: that they’ll keep updating and providing more/newer information.
    • Q: If I’ve got an interview with an author, how should I best use that time?
      • It’s rare to have an interviewer who read the book, and very rare to have 15 minutes.
      • It’s tough to get into the plot, because most people will not be familiar with the plot.
      • People want to know what the author is like.
      • They want to know how the book relates to current news.
      • The more opportunities there are out there, the more it stands out that someone like you is taking the time to read the book. They will make them very
    • Q: As an editor, we used to cut lots of stuff from the book during development. Now we save that content to use, as supplemental content.
    • Q: DRM limits discoverability – with a paper book I can lend it to a friend. 
      • I think there are other ways to accomplish what you’re talking about without tackling DRM. Sampling and content syndication. Give people free chapters online. Give people a chance to read for free. That’s easier than trying to tackle DRM.
    • Q: Why should we expect authors to be great marketers?
      • We don’t expect them to be great marketers. We do expect them to be great storytellers and to create really interesting, smart content. And the publisher and marketing team can figure out the best way to get those stories out there.
      • We expect an author to not only write a book, but to continue to create awesome related content to build the communication.
      • People write books because they want to have an audience, they want to be heard and to be seen as an artist/idea person. If you want to call that marketing, you can.