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How To Boost Your Book Sales Through Marketing With Traditional Media And P.R. With A.G. Billig: Self-Publishing Conference Highlight

How to Boost Your Book Sales Through Marketing with Traditional Media and P.R. with A.G. Billig: Self-Publishing Conference Highlight

Join author A. G. Billig in this Self-Publishing Advice Conference Highlight: How to Boost Your Book Sales Using Traditional Media and P.R., two of  the most valuable tools in your book-marketing arsenal. When used wisely, they can boost your visibility, sales, and number of loyal and get you on the bestseller lists.

In this presentation, you will find out the secrets that PR pros use to get their clients from starving to stardom. You will also learn what you need to do to implement a successful PR campaign and leverage the power of traditional media.

At the end of this session, you will have the necessary abilities to build your media tribe, forge long-lasting relationships with journalists, get traditional media exposure, scale your traditional media appearances, and maximize the results of your PR campaigns.

In this session, A. G. Billig discusses how to:

  • Think of smaller media outlets
  • Use traditional media
  • Build a media list
  • Plan author events

And more!

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Read the Transcript on Book Marketing

Hello everyone, I’m A.G. Billig and I welcome you to a new session of the Self Pub Con 2020. I'm here today to talk to you about How You Can Use Traditional Media and PR Tools That the Big Publishers Use to Boost Your Sales.

And traditional media and PR is something that may sound scary to you, but believe me, it isn't that scary and it isn't that complicated once you master a few things.

I was talking to an author the other day and she told me oh, you know, I hear a lot of talking nowadays about digital marketing and about social media as main tools for authors to grow an audience and boost book sales. But in my opinion, as a former PR expert with a big advertising agency as an author, coach, my opinion is that as long as people will continue to be interested in traditional media, then traditional media will remain a powerful avenue for authors, whether they are self published or traditionally published, for boosting their writing career and think about all these famous writers, right?

So nowadays, even if they already have these huge numbers of followers and whether, although they have a big number of fans, whenever they release a new book, they're probably sure puts them on all the major shows and you can see them on Good Morning America and on major networks. So this is a sign that this kind of approach still works well, for sure, like a big TV network will be interested in announcing the release of a book when we're talking about a famous author like JK Rowling, but so that wouldn't be the way to go from your very first book.

Think of the Smaller Media Outlets

But there are other types of smaller media outlets that would probably welcome you. Because traditional media, whether we are talking about TV shows or radio shows, or magazines, they need content and they need content all the time, especially that they all do have an online version. So actually, by finding valuable content to provide to these media outlets, you're doing them a favor.

Okay. So, let's start with the very with the very beginning. I just gave you an overview, an overview of how you can use traditional media and what traditional media can do for you. It can actually put you in front of you, many people, especially when you start out and when you don't have a following, so you can actually tap into a following that's already building with this channels. This is one thing you can do, it can help you generate awareness for your book.

And for yourself as an author, it can help you grow your audience as well. And it also gives you a seal of approval because people they still look up to, to media outlets, they still look up to journalists and a belief that most people have is that when a media outlet decides to feature someone, including an author, excuse me, that author actually deserve that exposure. So that author is valuable, that author that book they deserve their attention, they deserve to be checked. out. So traditional media by featuring you gives you a seal of approval. So, seal of approval, build your audience smaller more awareness for your book. And yourself as an author.

I think these are the three main benefits that you can get. Once you put a little time into understanding how this works and how you can use it. Not necessarily just in your favor as I said, it's important to look at it as a win-win situation where you provide something valuable for the for the audience, and in return, you get that exposure that is so much needed, especially in the early days of your career. Why we are talking about PR because PR is a is a science It was kind of put together in 1921 by a guy called Edward Bernays And actually this was, help companies helps companies, but also helps individual to generate a positive response and interest from their target audiences.

And it's all about the way you convey the information. It's all about the way you identify the target audience's needs and preferences. And it's about what you have to offer them. So this is this is PR in a nutshell, and traditional media and media relations is one of the most commonly used tactics in PR.

Traditional Media for Marketing

So when you decide to take this route and say I want to include traditional media, in my book marketing mix, you're actually starting to do PR. What would be the first step for you. Because I assume that you know you don't really know how this goes and you don't have a media ease. And you know, there are lots of things that you don't know.

So I think the first the first the first thing you can do is to start looking at the media outlets in your in your area, smaller media outlets, and make a list. So you can go online and Google media outlets in your you know in your county in your city in your state and see what shows up. Normally you would you will find the list. And on that list you will have TV channels and you will have radio stations and then you will have magazines and newspapers. So when that leads shows up, then you go and check every website and look for contact Details look for email addresses, look for phone numbers and especially look for the journalist that would be interested in cover in covering arts culture, but also topics pertaining to your book. So the first step is to build your media list in identify all these media outlets in your region close to where you are because people look up to writers writing a book is still consider in this era of entertainment is still considered to be such a big deal.

So these local media outlets for sure they will be interested in featuring a local author who put the time and energy to release a book in you know, especially if your book is going to do well in if presented nicely, then they you are most likely to capture their interest. And then if you if your book is going to you know, like get become a best seller then later on you can think about reaching out to national media outlets and let's not forget another thing about being featured in a local media outlet is that even you know, the national media outlets they need content.

Build a Media List and Keep it Current

So they often they look at what the local media outlets do and if they find this a topic that's of interest or really special, they will pick it up. So, you know, by getting featured in a local media outlet the chances are the later you know if the story is interesting enough, a national media outlet will be interested in pick it up. So that is rule number one when it comes to PR in traditional media and integrating them in your book marketing start small start local and small start by building a solid media list. When I used to work for the advertising agency, we would have these lists of celebrities and media people. And we would never so we had different clients. But we never gave those lists away though those were considered our gold because if not, you know, the moment you start building that list  and maybe you don't you don't find the name of the journalist on the website that will cover arts and cultures. So that's why you need a phone number. You call that phone number and you ask who would be the right person to cover that topic? And then you start building a relationship with that person.

So another secret that all the PR people know when it comes to traditional media is that, uh, you know, it's the name of the agency or is not so important as the connection you build over time with  that person, and you know, journalists, they sometimes they move from one media to another, they change jobs. So it's another thing once you start building that list, it is important to keep it updated. So every six months, just make sure that you have the right the right names, the right numbers, the right emails. I'm assuming that since you are watching these wonderful online events, you are interested in building a long time career. So another thing to keep in mind when it comes to traditional media and PR Is that okay? In the beginning is going to take you a little more time to put everything together but this is a long time investment because once you start putting this machine in place in, you make it work for you, then that's going to serve you, not just for one book, but for the rest of your writing career, so it's definitely worth it's definitely worth your time and energy.

Okay, so you go online you build your media list, you start reaching out and find the right people to reach out to the right the right journalists. Another thing you need to identify from the very beginning, before even you reach out to those journalists, is what are the main themes of your book, your author brand and what is your story. You also need to look at those media channels you are kind of looking at to be featured on and see what is it that they are interested in? What is it that their audiences are interested in because you need to find the sweet spot between What do you want to say what is the message you want to convey in?

Obviously, the fact that you have a book out there for sale? That's a that's something you want people to know. And what are they interested in? That's all I'm saying that when you present your information or you pitch your story to the media, you have to come up with something that's going to make them go wow, this is such an interesting story. And that will give me some valuable material for my audience. So I yeah, I want to feature this author. So I'm going to give you an example. I just talked to a lady author who just took a trip across the US on her bicycle, and she wrote a memoir, isn't it? Such a great story to tell? So my suggestion to her was to focus more on the story In how that transformed her life and also her, her whole platform and message is about empowering women over 50 to do extraordinary things. So this is a real powerful, inspirational and motivational story.

So rather than sending out a press release, where you say, Oh, you know, I just I'm going to release a book on April 11. Just write a press release that incorporates your personal story and how it changed your life in how it can change other people's lives. So the odds of the of the media, inviting you to do an interview and ask you more questions about your journey and integrating the book in that story are higher as I said, than just sending out a press or a dry press release that says the book will be available on April 11. So Again, it's about finding that story. That that's about you and your book that's going to be interested, interesting for the readers. So that'll be another.

Another thing that you need to keep in mind, identify your main themes, your main topics, the story behind the book, The story behind your writing career, and then see how that can. How can that appeal to different audiences? And speaking of audience, audiences, yeah, knowing your audience is something that you really need to do. And then once you know your audience, then you know where that audience hangs out. Because, you know, if you write young adult fiction, well, those people your readers don't read newspapers, so you won't be interested in necessarily interesting The new feature in being featured by a newspaper was read by all their people, right? So it's not about the key to success is not about reaching out to all the media channels out there available, but you're reaching out to those media channels where your readers hang out. So it might be TV, it might be radio, it might be just online content.

So you need to figure that out and then choose the media channels accordingly. And then provide the journalists that kind of information that serves both of you, not just your interest, and that's when you become from somebody who's begging for their attention. You turn into a valuable source of content that they will always pay attention to when you reach out to them.

Segment Your Media List

So, just to recap: Build your media list identify the right media channels for you. And then get to know those media channels get to know the shows or the type of or the columns you think would be a good fit for you and come up with that kind of content that those journalists and their readers would be interested in. Because remember, the mass media is a business so everybody there they want numbers they want people to look at their shows are at least in tune into their shows, or read their articles, so they need their numbers to get advertising.

So their goal is to provide that kind of content that's going to draw people in and if you can help them do that, you will, for sure, build a strong and long lasting relationship with this  journalist so when you look at your book, and our thing is that I mentioned earlier arts and culture because obviously, you are part of this segment but for example with the book I mentioned earlier, the memoir of the lady who traveled across the US on a bicycle, look at it.

So you've got another segment you can tap into, like, people who are interested in traveling and who love to travel. So that's another segment. So if you are in this range in the newspaper in your area has a travel column or the magazine, you can reach out to those people and you can say, Hey, I can give you tips on where you should the top five places you should visit in the US and then you know your time to your book. Or even there even if there is a bicycle magazine, you know or websites that are geared towards bicycles or that kind of hobby, you can reach out to those people and you can say, Okay, I have tips on how to ride the bicycle effectively.

So you see there are, it's just being open. And being as creative as when you do the PR stuff is when you write your book. And then you can cover a wider, wider range of people, as if you only focus on arts and culture. So even you know, if you write historical fiction, you can come up with maybe you know, you can come up with some interesting facts about history that would interest everyone. And that could tie into, you know, the current  events, or celebrations like Women's Day. So, there are all things you can play with to make your book interesting to people And go beyond Oh, I have a book. This is my new book. Here's my new book.

In terms of instruments you can use to, to reach out to journalists. So, to people who work in traditional media press release used to be a really effective instrument. And if you go online, you will find different models on how to write a press release. It is very important to have a catchy title. And then in the in the opening paragraph to put all the all the interests all the information that would capture the journalists attention and that would make them want to read further on. So it is important to say who is doing what is doing when, where, why and what these are the questions that usually a press release has to have has to answer, then you will need a media kit and the media kit includes that press release where you put the details about your book, but also a professional headshot, a short description of your book. And this is the information in your author bio, of course, that that needs to be really interesting and captivating and it has to include elements that are consistent with your author brand in that show you as a as an interesting person as an interesting guest on our show or in an interview. So, think about that. And once you have all this information, ideally you can put it on a on a page on your author website. Then the journalists will have all the information about you at a glance and they will be able to look at it in learn about you without having to dig all over the internet to define it. So you need that you need a press kit. And then you know you can you can even pitch your story like, as I said earlier, come up with this five tips and tricks.

These kind of tips and tricks, articles where you have bullets and you'll give people valuable information, actionable steps. And of course, these has to be connected to your book. In the end, you can mention that if you want to learn more, you can read my book. So this is another way to do it.

Planning Author Events

Another way to generate content that would be of interest to, to the media are events, author events, so you can do a book signing. You can create a whole event around your book that would basically draw people in in would be something that a journalist would be interested in covering because this is something really unique and special. And I can give you an example of what I've did what I've done for my short story collection, four doors and four doors and other stories. So I wanted to do so this is here you see them on the end of the show where I did the book signing. So what I did was to write one of the short stories in the book as a monologue, and then I took acting classes you don't have to do that you can find someone who can help you, you know, maybe a young person who's studying to be an actor or a young actor who needs for these for their real. So I did that and then I had a video projection In two dancers, and the live music, and we kind of I put together a 40 minute event as a play, you know, or just as a short play. And those really something, something unique. We had 200 people in the attendance and believe me, they weren't family and friends. Here you can see I was being interviewed on a TV station.

This is another picture from the performance, seeing these are the dancers. So we integrated Tango music, and this is this is Fernando he played classical Tango music he played Piazzolla that's me during the during the show, the dancers so everything came together in the I think we had about three of these three TV stations showing up in journalists from glossy magazines and newspapers, we had media partners who promoted the show before it happened to drew people to draw people in. And so, we had all these we got all this media exposure that and after the show, there was the book signing, and we also had a sponsor who helped us with the with the location and then with professional sound and lighting and to pay you know, for the, for the for the artists, so, everything came together nicely and people they were, they're really happy.

So that kind of event generated media exposure and sales. So So that's why it's worth when you're thinking about your book launch event to actually go outside the box and come up with something that will be really unique and really special. So you have the press release as tools to reach out to people, you have these types of how to tips and tricks, articles. And then you have the events that can that can help  you generate interest within the within the media. So obviously, that's where you know, when you'll create your media list, and then if you decide to do an event, you're going to reach out to people and you're going to invite them to, to your event. So that's, that's another thing you can consider. You can also identify, let's say causes that you believe in and you can start supporting that That those causes through again, find an organization that resonates with you. And then you can start supporting that you can talk to them, you can donate a portion of your sales to, to their cause. So then, you know, you can add that to your website. And when you reach out to journalists, you can mention that as well.

Calendar of Activities

So you can see if this is there are different tools you can use. And another thing, which is really important when it comes to traditional media and PR, you will want to have a calendar of activities. And I recommend having that calendar of activities for a year, because usually what happens is that when you have a book release, that's when you want to kind of be really visible and be in the spotlight. So before that three months prior to that in a little bit after the book release So people know about it and boost your book sales. So that's when you would concentrate your efforts and communicate more. But then in between book releases, then you still want to be kind of on the writer and make sure that you get the exposure so people won't forget you because remember, a book is something that's evergreen, it's never going to die.

So especially the way Amazon works, it is important for you to have steady sales, so that Amazon one buried you know, where nobody can find it. And so that when people type in keywords that you include in your metadata, your book will show up among the first search results, so by being constantly in the light, but not in the limelight, but not overdoing it, especially when you're going to have a book release. That's can help. So that's why by having these one year calendar where you know exactly when the book release is where you know exactly that you're going to do an event, let's say, you know, every year we celebrate independent authors day. So if you're going to do other type of events that fall into the categories I mentioned earlier, and then you can use them those to generate more interest from the on the journalist side. So having that calendar will help you not to miss these important moments. And  not to kind of overdo it.

So just to recap again, so build your list, and make sure you update it. Then identify the right channels for you. Also come up with topics and the way you present your information in a way that's relevant to those journalists and to their audience. And make sure you plan everything in advance because that calendar will help you as I said, not to overdo it and not to miss important moments, but also it will help you plan because you know, it will take time for you to write a press release, or to write an article that you are going to pitch to the to the media, also, especially, let's say if you reach out to a to a monthly magazine, you know, those magazines people, they work on those magazines way in advance. So you need to give the journalist the time to, to respond to you. And then if they ask for more information, you need to give yourself the time to give them that information. So this yearly calendar of activities where you know exactly what's going to happen and when it'll help you stay on top of things. things and always be ready and prepared. And as I said, Don't forget about the media kit, which includes all the information about you that's relevant, and the journalist can  find at a glance and don't stay away from don't shy away from events and think I'll side of the box and create something that's going to be memorable for people.

Be Patient, Don’t Give Up

So if you're going to do these, then you know you're going to see results. And another thing that's really important is to be patient in don't not give up. So it is probably even we, you know, when I was with that advertising agency and people knew me some  journalists, they never replied, you know, and I had to follow up on the phone and see what's going on. So, and some would say No, we are not interested. We don't want to we don't want to run your But don't  give up you know, just continue and hone the skill and learn what they need and what they are interested in. And eventually you will get your first article you know, or your first interview.

And once you start getting those, please put them on your author website, make them visible, create a special section on the website where people can go and see all these media appearances you you've been, you've been doing.

If you go to my website, www.agbillig.com you will see that I have the section where people can see my track record as a guest on various shows or various articles that feature me. I wish you the best of luck. And I promise you will really enjoy doing this because ultimately it's about saving money. Building your following as an author it's about creating a bond and a relationship, a long lasting relationship with journalists who ultimately they are human beings just like you. So treat them as such, treat them with respect, treat them with patience. And position yourself, as I mentioned earlier, not as someone who is there to ask for a favor but as someone who is there to help them offer valuable content and information to their to their audience. And in doing so, you will reap the rewards. So, thank you for attending the session.

And if you have questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected] and for more resources and articles and success stories on self publish You're always welcome to visit www.selfpublishingmastery.com.

Thank you.



Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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