Even the world’s most successful authors still have to do ‘the little things’ right
Feature in Book Marketing Update
By John Kremer, Editor-in-Chief
After handling publicity for thousands of authors, from the very famous like John Grisham and Mitch Albom, to mid-level non-fiction writers and even some self-published authors, Rick Frishman, president of Planned Television Arts, thought he had a pretty good idea of what’s going on inside an author’s head. That is, until he became an author himself and went through the process he’s coached thousands of others through — from writing to publishing to promotion. Along this journey, Frishman realized five things about being an author that every other author should know. Here’s what writing and promoting Networking Magic made him realize.
Be prepared for the “calm before the calm.”
Every new author probably has the same expectation for what’s going to happen the day their book is actually published and ushered out into the world. Throngs of eager buyers will line up at their local bookstore, Internet surfers will jam Amazon.com, and glowing reviews will start appearing in newspapers all across the country. Second-time authors rarely have those expectations. “[First-time authors] expect that their book will be published, the New York Times will do a story on it, Oprah will call and there will be book signings and parades and all this excitement,” says Frishman. “But in reality, it’s just another day. And a made-up day at that.” This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be excited about your book finally being published. But what it does mean, and what Frishman is quick to point out, is that nothing is going to happen unless you make it happen. It’s exceptionally rare for a book to simply “take off” without an amazing amount of effort on the part of both the author and the publisher. “Even though I’m ahead of the game because I work with the media everyday, it’s still sort of a letdown,” says Frishman. “You’re not going to see a huge hoopla right away. The day comes and it’s not all that exciting, people don’t line up around the block for a book signing. You have to drive it.”
Marketing your book is a non-stop job.
How big would you have to be before you stopped doing callin interviews on small-town radio stations? Before you answer that, consider this: Wayne Dyer, who’s sold well over a million books, still considers any day that goes by without doing a radio interview to be wasted. Even authors like Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, still do radio interviews nearly every day. No matter how successful you become, marketing never stops. Even though Frishman owns one of the most successful PR firms in the country, he still advertised in Radio-TV Interview Report (our sister publication— the magazine producers use to find guests) to help generate radio interviews. All told, Frishman has appeared on over 200 radio shows because he made it happen. He kept pushing. “No matter how big you are, the minute you think you’ve made it and stop pushing, it goes downhill,” he says.
Make sure bookstores know you’re there.
Jack Canfield has sold 82 million books. Yet he still goes into bookstores no matter where he is and offers to autograph copies of his books (he even carries his own “Autographed Copy” stickers with him). The point here is that you’re one of hundreds of thousands of authors who have books in bookstores. What are you going to do today to help those stores sell your books? If you do nothing, what makes you think you won’t get lost in the shuffle? “You have to find other ways to get people to know about your book,” says Frishman. (We told you about two unique things Frishman did with his book— the “airport tour” and the “email blast” that catapulted his book to #1 on BarnesandNoble.com — in a previous issue of BMU.)
Do everything you can, no matter how small.
A lot of authors will balk at “wasting their time” talking to reporters from small-town newspapers or radio stations. Those are usually the authors who also complain that they can’t get enough media exposure. Truly successful authors know that everything counts— and it can sometimes count more than you expect. Here are a couple examples. Frishman recently got a call from a reporter at “a tiny radio station in Iowa” who was working on a story about advertising during traffic reports. Little did he know that soon after he did the interview the story would be broadcast on NPR stations nationwide. The same kind of thing Rick Frishman happened when he got a call from a newspaper reporter from the Wilmington News-Journal, a small paper in Delaware. As it turns out, the paper was owned by the Gannett News Service, and that story is now starting to appear in other Gannett papers all across the country. “You never know how something really small could take off,” says Frishman. “Do anything and everything you can, even if it’s from the tiniest newspaper. You must call the reporter back immediately and give them as much as they want. And give them lots of information, don’t tease.”
The most important thing — don’t take yourself too seriously.
“Every author that’s ever come to me has said these three things: ‘I want my book to be a New York Times bestseller’; ‘I want to sell a million books’; ‘I want to be on Oprah.’ But the reality is, most authors won’t get any of those three things,” says Frishman. And that can be a problem… if you let it be. “The most important thing I’ve learned is that you can’t take yourself too seriously,” he says. “A book is a tool, a tool to open up doors in everything else that you do. Once you’re an author, no one can take that away from you. It’s credibility. People will look at you a different way.” So assume you won’t make a million dollars with your book. Not many people do. But that doesn’t mean your career or business as a whole won’t benefit. The average author doesn’t make that much money as an author. But what a book can do for your Web site, your consulting business or your speaking career can make you a lot of money. “Enjoy the ride and realize it’s fun,” says Frishman. “You probably won’t be #1 on the Times bestseller list. But that fact doesn’t mean you’re a failure.”