I recently posed this question in two private Facebook groups for authors working on their book marketing campaigns: “What one word comes to mind when it comes to getting publicity for your book?”
The responses ranged from trepidation, yikes, and oy vey, to clueless, confusion, and uncomfortable.
I get it. Authors experience anxiety when it comes to getting publicity for their book and book marketing in general. You’re not alone. I do too and I’ve been working in this business for close to 25 years.
What to do in dealing with or mitigating that anxiety?
It starts with preparation and having a solid foundation and understanding of our message: What we want to say, how we want to say it, and who we want to say it to. Here are a few tools to stay focused, build confidence and keep us grounded.
Elevator Pitch – Value Proposition – Brand Promise
We’ve heard all these phrases before. Call it what you will, but we need to establish that answer to the question, “What do you do?”
How we answer this question can lead to a meaningful conversation. Whether it’s with a reporter, podcast host, online through our blog, in a presentation or in person, our answer helps set the tone and direction, and keeps us focused on the message and story we want to tell.
How do we develop an answer? The following approach and model has been around in the marketing communications world for as long as I’ve been in this business. Not sure where it originated, but it has helped me and many of my clients gain clarity.
Step 1: Brainstorm and answer these questions:
- What category, industry are you in?
- What opportunities, problems, issues or challenges exist among the people you are trying to serve/help?
- What solutions do you provide?
- What are the benefits among those who you help or serve?
Step 2: Based on your answers above, fill in the blanks below
I am _____________________________________________________
I help ____________________________________________________
So that ___________________________________________________
Here’s an example of how I filled in the above once I went through the brainstorm exercise above:
- I am a communications advisor.
- I help authors
- Do/understand how to get publicity for their book
- So that they can have a larger impact on the people they serve.
Don’t get discouraged because it might feel clunky at first. Mine took several months of thinking, tweaking and modifying before I landed at a place that felt right. And it still gets modified to this day.
This may change over time. As you get out and start using this language, be listening and noticing what kind of reaction you get in return. If it resonates, great; if not, then it may need further modifying.
A message is simple, clear, concise, and is the starting point and guide for communications consistency for our book and our message.
Key messages help guide consistent communication and development of our book marketing campaigns and events, advertising, brochures and collateral, speeches, web copy, blog posts, press releases, social media, and every other way we may plan to communicate, connect and engage with our audiences.
A message map is an extension of our elevator pitch and is a great tool to help keep us “on message” when further discussing our book, why we wrote it, how we work, etc. It’s a framework to help us manage the conversation with a reporter, a business prospect, or anyone we’re engaging with either offline or online.
Think of a message map in three phases: Problem, solution, results. We can identify points in each of these areas by asking several questions:
- What do we want to communicate? (TIP: What problem, frustration, opportunity exists among the people you are trying to serve/help?)
- Why do we want to communicate it? (TIP: Does it support our purpose, why we do what we do?)
- Who needs to hear it? (all internal and external audiences)
- Why do they need to hear it? (TIP: make it about them; fight the urge to make it all about us or our organization)
- What do we want to accomplish by communicating with them? (What’s the positive action? What do we want them to understand? What’s the solution?)
- What are the benefits among those who we want to help or serve?
- What information, data/statistics do we need to support what we want to communicate?
Answer these questions then create a message map like this example. It’s my message map for staying “on message” when talking about my work and how I help authors get publicity and awareness for their book.
Having a document that outlines questions and answers we are commonly asked or need to be prepared to answer in an interview is another fundamental tool to further help us prepare for those media moments.
Why have a Q&A?
It gives us confidence when heading into an interview, and helps ensure we will have a meaningful discussion with reporters and those we’re connecting and engaging.
Here are several questions to be prepared to answer as thought starters for a Q&A document:
- Why did you write the book?
- Who is the book for? Who should read it and why?
- What is the book about?
- Where can people buy your book?
- What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
As a list of questions are being developed, let’s not forget about the questions we hope we never get asked. This is an internal document for our eyes only so get the tough ones down as well.
Being prepared with a few book marketing and publicity tools like these can help reduce anxiety and put us in position to stay focused and on message during every media opportunity that comes our way.
About the Author
Joel Kessel is a communications advisor with a specialization in working with media. He helps organizations and those who have something to say—authors, speakers, thought leaders—gain clarity and confidence on how to strategically and authentically communicate and deliver their message through the media—reporters, podcasters, bloggers, influencers—so they can have a larger impact on the people they serve. Read more from Joel’s blog at www.joelkessel.com.