Solving the Book Publicity Mystery / Marissa DeCuir

Solving the Book Publicity Mystery

by Marissa DeCuir

A military-based thriller, a psychological escape, and a mysterious middle-grade fantasy—what do these things have in common? Well, each is a book. But no two books are exactly the same, and neither should be the promotion.

Your questions about publicity will be the same. Ask yourself:

What’s possible for my genre? What/who is my target audience? How can I directly reach them? What makes my book unique? What titles are most comparable to mine, and where were they showcased and successfully promoted?

  • What about my own personal story and background?
    • Where do I personally have ties?
    • What makes me unique as an author?
    • Where do I have networks of friends and family who would be willing to support my work?

Your answers will differ. Sometimes it will take you into the hidden corners of the internet. Sometimes it will be right in front of you.

Here are a few specific examples from real publicity campaigns to get you thinking strategically, thoroughly and creatively!

  1. Samuel Marquis’ WWII trilogy and other thrillers: In Sam’s case, we wanted to connect with military fiction and other topic-related book bloggers and reviewers, especially to highlight the historical accuracy of these fiction titles. We also showcased Sam’s technique through guest articles. With Sam based in Colorado, outreach to local media and bookstores was a priority and resulted in him becoming a #1 Denver Post bookseller. Sam has since released eight books, but especially for his debut title, we needed to introduce him to readers who likely had no prior knowledge of his work. This is where knowing your audience is so important––we needed to find readers who enjoyed comparable titles in this genre. Garnering online reviews from readers on blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc., helped build a solid reader base to showcase genuine interest in a new author.
  2. Kim Hooper’s psychological thriller: As soon as we saw Kim’s work, we knew it would be a perfect book club read. So we invited nationwide clubs to participate in a tour along the route of the novel’s main characters who traveled from California to New York.  It also helped that Kim has a great sense of humor, which led to her making a hilarious video in the style of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets. While this was at heart a fun way to let readers get to know the person behind the book, it was also a worthwhile promotional opportunity – we launched the video exclusively through Hypable. Another important element to our work with Kim: Reading lists. It’s important to think about the reader and how and where they might enjoy a title. Bustle, for example, is one publication that offers reading list coverage!
  3. D.E. Night’s middle-grade fantasy: Especially when writing for a younger audience, you need to think like them for promotion. What would have made you excited about a book in the fifth grade? What would make a parent excited about buying a book for their kids? For D.E. Night, we arranged author visits and offered copies of her book to middle school book clubs. We reached this younger audience through “Bookstagrammers” and “BookTubers” (Instagram and YouTube users who cover books). We also thought about how to make reading a fun bonding experience by encouraging mothers and daughters involved with certain organizations to read and discuss the book together. It was important to think about “tastemakers” in this genre. How do young people find out about books? In addition to social media influencers, youth librarians, middle school teachers, parents and writers for youth-specific outlets like Girls Life were instrumental in this middle-grade fantasy’s promotion.

Now you’re set to solve the mystery of book publicity! You and your book are unique, and it’s important to treat the publicity as such. That said, it’s still important to remember that you do share the commonality with other authors of being just that, an author. There are certain tactics that should be implemented for any book (optimizing your book on retail sites, getting a great editor, hiring a professional book cover-designer, and if you’ve got incredible accolades – flaunt them!) And you certainly will have shared experiences worth exploring and discussing.

There is no better way to connect with fellow authors than at events like Killer Nashville, which also provides opportunities to gain more accolades with the awards program. The author community is a supportive one. Lean on one another, talk through potentials of cross-promotion to your fan bases, and find comfort in your shared experiences.

Marissa DeCuir is the president and partner of JKS Communications, a book publicity and marketing firm. She was born into a newspaper-owning family and has written for USA Today, National Geographic and numerous other daily newspapers. As a former journalist, she’s always looking for the best hooks to utilize in each publicity campaign, helping readers and reviewers understand a book’s importance and purpose. She values fostering the relationship between writer and reader in an organic way, and believes in taking a personal and strategic can-do approach to help authors reach their goals.

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Thanks to Joseph Borden and publisher/editorial director Clay Stafford for their assistance in putting together this week’s editorial.