Category Archives: book publicity

Still can’t stop talking about it: Get Known Before the Book Deal

Day 19: I sincerely wish I could stop talking about it. I wish writers who send me queries had read Christina Katz’s Get Known Before the Book Deal and implemented the strategies she outlines in the book. I wish I didn’t need to tell so many prospective clients to back up and learn exactly what publishers and readers expect of them in 2014. I wish I were a fairy godmother with the power to transmit knowledge, skills, and business sense with the flick of a glitter-spangled wand. I’m weary of repeating myself. I’m whining today.

GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL by Christina KatzHowever, there is good news! There’s an upside of my frustration, which I assure you is shared by at least a few other agents, as well as book editors and publishers, not to mention successful authors who frequently are asked how they got so lucky. The bright side is that the unbelievably small percentage of writers who apply—that is, put into practice rather than just reading—Christina Katz’s advice can achieve an enormous advantage over the larger number of writers who don’t.

Think about that. Did you just feel the power shifting?

Christina doesn’t promise instant results, and she doesn’t say it’s easy when it’s not. No one ever truly masters self-promotion in a turbulent market, and the mere attempt takes a lot of time. More hard work is exactly what average writers or wannabes will not confront. They believe they should be finished with the work part when they put the last words on the last pages of their manuscripts. They’re ready for the cake, punch, and applause precisely when the going really gets tough. C’mon. Take advantage of their mistakes.

Writers need to exploit every possible asset in order to stand out among thousands of contenders and to get their books noticed among the incredible quantity of titles now frictionlessly available to readers. Those readers easily can choose similar content in other media, often at less expense. Writers who are aware of their competition, respect readers, perfect their manuscripts, consider their art a career, and demonstrate their ability to engage their intended audience, well…

We know who they are.

Full disclosure

Christina Katz is my friend, but I recommend her book because the advice in it is so good. Chuck Sambuchino wrote a similar manual called Create Your Writer Platform, but then I must admit that Chuck’s a friend, too. There’s also Amanda Luedeke’s ebook, The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform. I’ve met Amanda. I like and respect her. She’s a dynamo. Several other books cover this very topic, and some of these resources are likely to be available at the nearest library. By the way, my old neighbor Bob Robertson-Boyd developed the WorldCat interface that shows the closest library where a copy of a particular book can be borrowed.

Musical accompaniment

Believe it or not, I do have a heart. It gets crumpled a lot, to the tune of “The Laugh of Recognition.” Over the Rhine are some of my favorite musicians.

BookADay-The Borough Press

Dusting off the popular list of book reviewers

The month of March was a slog, weather-wise, which motivated me to take care of boring chores like fixing the broken links on my list of Book reviewers on the Web. It and a few other posts on this old blog get lots of page views. I imagine readers nagging me to update it periodically.

Book reviewers on the webOne visitor mentioned that my book reviewers list was confusing or disorganized, so to improve navigation I’ve added a table of contents linking directly to each section, or type, of reviewers. If you use the Book reviewers on the Web list often, please let me know how I might make it more user-friendly.

As penance for channeling so many pitches to the reviewers on my list, let me urge anyone who’s planning to ask for a book to be reviewed to study each review outlet’s guidelines before submitting. Ignorance is no excuse for spam.

For anyone who’s never written a pitch to a media outlet, Rick Frishman gives excellent, clear directions in Advanced Review Copies of A Book Being Published at the book marketing blog Beneath the Cover.

Lastly, for those who aren’t do-it-yourselfers, I offer a long and random list of publicists who can be hired to do the work.

Penny Sansevieri: “Why having a platform may be the only way to sell books”

Penny Sansevieri
Yesterday, I linked you to a blogpost written by a publisher who explained what he’d learned about selling the books he’s been publishing for 35 years.

Today, with book authors in mind, I’d like to recommend a Huffington Post article written by publicist Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts, who says that “in order to gain any kind of attention for your book, you’re going to have to have a platform.” I agree. Take a look at Sansevieri’s description of the basic components of an author platform and trust her when she says, “Without it, yours may be the best book that no one has ever read.”

Christina KatzMy friend Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, has been a trailblazer on the topic of author platforms. I’m glad I met her before I started my agency, so I could learn what to expect of my clients and how to prepare them for their books’ publication.

A few months after I established my business, a young editor at HarperCollins told me he would not look at the work of a writer who hadn’t already established an online presence. In the years since, other acquiring editors have followed suit. They’ve found the author platform requirement a quick and dirty, not to mention objective and reasonable, means of eliminating quite a few manuscripts from consideration.

These days, I can’t consider taking on a new client who hasn’t demonstrated a capability for self-promotion, online and IRL. I still use the terms online and IRL for clarity, but I no longer perceive a distinction. To me, they’re one and the same.

I once thought I’d be able to teach every new client the platform development techniques I’ve learned from Christina Katz, Penny Sansevieri, and other book marketing experts. Instead, I found that it’s impractical to try to instill the motivation to make time, the competitive drive, the emotional stamina, and the willingness to learn, all of which are required of a writer who needs to build a readership. When I’m considering whether to work with a writer, I need proof of those characteristics.

Martin Shepard: “Selling books depends on reaching potential readers”

Over at The Cockeyed Pessimist, Martin Shepard, co-publisher with his wife, Judith, at The Permanent Press, has summarized what they’ve “learned over the past 35 years when it comes to promoting and selling books.” Read his post to pick up on some best practices.

The archives of The Cockeyed Pessimist’s blog contain some fascinating and fervent accounts of the publisher’s frustration with big media. Good insights for anyone in the book business.

Book publicity and marketing know-how, courtesy of Brian Feinblum


Brian Feinblum
Chief Marketing Officer, Media Connect

I invite you to enjoy these recent book marketing blog posts that may be of use to you:

25 Ways for Authors to Break Through & Establish a Legacy

Can You Market & Promote Books Like TV’s Dexter?

Evolving as a Book Marketer & Publicist

Winning the Battle Over Internet Book Piracy

26 Ways to Save Barnes & Noble

Do You Market Your Books Doggy Style?

Does Your Book Blog Do These 16 Things?

Writers, Read This: You Are Marketers

Why Authors—and Publicists & Publishers—Need A Therapist

If you need assistance in promoting your book, please keep Media Connect in mind. Brian Feinblum invites you to consult and a Publishers Weekly article about his firm. He can be contacted at or 212-583-2718, and you can find more of his advice for book authors @ThePRExpert and his BookMarketingBuzzBlog.

Reprinted with permission

All the best writers are eager to learn

I have this bias. I believe that the best writers are people who love to learn, who are open to experimentation, who fight to understand and improve. A writer who claims to know it all, who is certain and inflexible, also is pompous and boring on the page.

Although people naturally separate into camps that become echo chambers, the web still enables the alternatives: bridges and connections, exposure to otherness, new ways to learn.

A few good online learning locations for writers:

Charles E. May’s blog – Reading the Short Story

Goodreads’ group – Middle East/North African Lit

Joel Friedlander’s blog – The Book Designer

Lucy V. Hay’s writing craft tips – Bang2Write


Care to share where you go online to learn more about the art, craft, and business of creative writing?

How to assemble an author press kit (and why)

Authors sabotage their books in two very common ways, both of which are symptoms of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Monkey wrench #1

Not knowing how much work goes into producing a good book (therefore, failing to do the work)

Monkey wrench #2

Trying to generate publicity for a book without a press kit/media kit, even if it’s only one page


It’s easy to be irritated by or make fun of the authors who simply don’t know what they don’t know. Our annoyance comes from assuming they could know if they tried. In reality, some writers aren’t capable of recognizing that what they’re doing differs somehow from the efforts of successful authors. We can’t rescue the blissfully ignorant from failure. The best we can do is politely ignore them.

The upside, if you’re an author, is that you can remove monkey wrench #2 in one weekend with a reasonable amount of effort. If you’re super busy, you can hire someone to do it for you.

You can become much more attractive as an interviewee or event participant when your press kit can be downloaded by anyone who takes an interest. If it’s not available online, then at the very least, your press kit should be assembled and ready to send by courier whenever it’s requested by a reporter, producer, blogger, or book reviewer.

Make it easy for people who need to know more about you and your book. Show them you’re professional, and you’ll avoid being politely ignored.

Exhibit the Dunning-Kruger Effect by reading no further

If you recognize that being discoverable, approachable, and professional will help you draw more attention to your book and yourself, then continue reading.

Press kit primer

Be sure to have your press kit compiled before you need it.

Your press kit must be downloadable, or forwarded immediately upon request, so the person inquiring can read your book, learn something about you, and prepare interview questions or schedule an event.

Step 1: Assemble a press sheet

If you really like your publisher’s information sheet (sell-sheet) for your book, then ask permission to include it in your press kit. If you prefer, you can create your own press sheet using these guidelines:

Social Media News Release Template, Version 1.5
Todd Defren, Shift Communications

Advance Information Sheets (AIs)
Welsh Book Trade Info

A one-page press sheet includes brief biographical information about you, the author. You might be lucky enough to enjoy the assistance of a publicist when writing your bio, or you can refer to these tips:

How to Create an Engaging and Effective Bio Page
Georgiana Cohen, Work Awesome

Don’t forget to include on your one-page press sheet:

  • Book cover image
  • Book title
  • Your name and city
  • Page count
  • Genre
  • Synopsis
  • URL for your book’s page on your publisher’s site
  • URLs for your book’s page on your favorite bookseller sites
  • ISBN
  • Name of publisher, publication date, and territory
  • Prizes/awards for this title (only if it was the grand-prize winner)
  • Stupendous blurbs and/or awesome review excerpts
  • Your bio and maybe your headshot
  • Your blog or website URL
  • When and how far you’ll travel for interviews, book club meetings, events
  • Contact information (your publicist’s or yours)

Step 2: Assemble a press kit

Follow the links below to find out what else you’ll need or want to add to your press kit. There’s more, but you’ll need to leave this page to discover it.

What on Earth Do I Put in My Media Kit?
L. Diane Wolfe, Spunk on a Stick

Book Marketing: Your Online Press Kit
Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer

Is Your Author Website Ready to Meet the Press?
Chris Robley, BookBaby Blog

I like the idea of including a sheet of sample questions and answers. Writing them is an effective way to prepare yourself for an interview, regardless of whether the questions are ever used.

Step 3: Use your press kit

The individual to whom your press kit is being sent will choose the format: digital or hard copy. Ask which format the person prefers. Be prepared to send either version. Don’t just provide the URL, but do make a version of your press kit/media kit available to download from your website or blog.

A version of your press kit should be on your website, because not everyone will go to the trouble of contacting you for information. It’s simpler and faster to pay attention to authors whose websites are comprehensive. Reporters and producers with deadlines have no time to waste, and there’s never a shortage of authors seeking media attention.

After you’ve finished putting together an attractive press kit and you’ve posted a version on your website, then sit back and smile, knowing you’ve removed one of the biggest obstacles that might have prevented other people from helping you to promote your book.


If you’d like to share your press sheet or press kit as an example, feel free to post a link to it in the comments section of this post. You might have noticed people talking about this one a while ago.