Monday, June 25, 2007

Publicity for the self-published

I have a fabulous 'how to' book which (through my own sweaty efforts) is now in five small bookshops on consignment, and (through my own sweaty efforts) has been reviewed in a major newspaper and a major national magazine. How do I make the next big jump to be on television? It seems that the morning shows and current affairs shows are only interested in shock and controversy, not helping the public with a 'how to' book. (I was interviewed by Channel 7 but the story never went to air.) What will get my book onto TV and still maintain my integrity and dignity?

This is somewhat related to the earlier post about self-publishing, but does highlight the particular difficulty of letting people know that your book exists, and the conundrum contained therein.

The difficulty: if you're not already famous, how do you get the sort of TV coverage necessary to promote your book? The answer: hire a publicist. Publicists have the contacts necessary to ease your way into the media. They can't guarantee anything, of course - there are over 1000 books published each month in Australia, so there's a lot of competition for publicity - but they can cut out all of your sweaty efforts. Yes, a campaign will cost money - that's the danger of being self-published, you have to bear all those costs yourself. But the alternative is you cold-calling every media organisation in the land and probably getting knocked back (and this process will take you months). Closed shops are only closed to those outside the door; publicists are inside the building.

The conundrum: your book is only stocked in five bookshops (presumably all in the one city). If you do secure a spot on national TV, how can you supply enough copies to meet potential demand? What if there's someone in Hobart who wants to buy it but no bookshop there has ever heard of it? Most bookshops won't take orders for a book they can't easily locate on Bookscan or Books in Print. Even if they did, the impetus from your national TV appearance will be lost within a couple of days, and potential customers would lose interest. The answer: once you've hired the publicist, call other bookshops and tell them about the campaign he or she has organised for you. That will be an incentive for them to order stock.

A possible final solution: there are companies who distribute books for small and self-publishers, who have sales reps and might even help with publicity - call the Australian Publishers Association for some advice.

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