Book publicity extras—like book tours and book parties—can boost media and reader awareness during your book’s launch.
In addition to the book publicity basics you can expect from your publisher or hired publicist, there are a number of other tactical publicity elements that can be deployed in service of getting media attention for your book.
Book Publicity Campaign Elements
Because these book publicity campaign extras generally command more resources (money, time, materials) than most books are budgeted for, they are not—at least, not any longer—deployed for every book published by a traditional publisher.
However, when planned thoughtfully and used strategically, they can bring the book to the attention of the media—and, in turn, to the consumer reading public.
Once upon a time, book parties were paid for by your publisher. Today they are usually funded by sponsors (restaurants, liquor companies, etc.) or thrown by the author’s good friends. Proactive authors find innovative ways to help fund a book party.
The Key Team
If you or your friends are orchestrating a party for your book launch and you are being published by a traditional publishing house, your publicist is likely to at least help you with the invitations (online, not necessarily printed), and managing the guest list.
Throwing a book party can be a fun and festive element in the arsenal of an effective book launch and a great addition to a publicity campaign, helping to blast a new title off into the marketplace.
A book party can be an intimate event with close friends or a bash impressive enough to get the media buzzing. But if you want the latter, know that in order to be successful, a book party takes time and resources—including a competent team of key people.
While some of these roles can be combined, here’s the team you need:
Book Party Host
Tradition dictates that someone else throws a book party for the author, who is the guest of honor*. These options include:
- Your publisher— Possible, if you are a hugely important author with one of the Big Five publishers, but for the vast majority, this is highly unlikely to be an item in a publishers marketing and publicity budget for the book.
- A good friend or industry colleague— If someone in your circle steps up to volunteer, fantastic! However, a book party is a big undertaking and can be expensive, so…
- *The author— can be the actual It’s a common practice for an author to organize and/or fund his or her book party, while enlisting a friend or colleague to be the on-record host, so that the author is free to circulate as the guest of honor.
- Sponsors — such as restaurants or event venues or food or drink or service providers may also be enlisted co-hosts or sponsors to help defray the costs in exchange for credit on the invitation and for profuse, very public thanks at the party. The willingness of sponsors to sign on depends on the host’s connections as well as the benefit to the sponsor of being associated with the particular book.
The Book Party Organizer
Anyone who has ever thrown a big party knows how many details there are to keep track of — including but not limited to:
- Booking the venue
- Creating the invitations
- Vetting the guest list
- Determining the menu and ordering refreshments
- Deciding on the decorations
- Coordinating the book sales
The book party organizer might be the host, the author, or the book publicist — but know that this job requires good project management skills.
Read more about the details of throwing a book party.
The Book Publicist
Getting book publicity is one of the main goals of the large book parties and role of the book publicist is critical to achieving that. No matter who is throwing the party, your book’s in-house publicist of record should be willing to perform the following tasks:
- Pull together the media guest list
- Send out the invitations to the entire guest list
- Contact the media
- Follow up with the media afterwards
If you’re an indie author looking for publicity from a party, you might want to hire a freelance publicist to orchestrate the party or consult with you.
Your budget will dictate the size of your guest list, but here are some critical people:
- Media— Your publicist has access to media lists and should be able to take care of this. If you’re an Indie author, you can engage a freelance publicist to help in the effort. If you’re going DIY, do research on local reporters who might be interested and reach out.
- Booksellers and appropriate in-house staff — your editor or publicist should be able to give you the list, which typically includes sales personnel, etc.
- “Big mouths”– people who are influential to your book’s intended audience, such as industry leaders.
- Friends, family— as many as the budget will allow. If you’re wary of mixing business and pleasure, tell them your professional goals with respect to the book party and ask them to be on their best behavior!
Oh, right. The author should be on hand to accept congratulations and compliments, to answer any media questions, to greet any booksellers who attend, and to sign books for anyone who wants one.
One of the most important duties of the author is to shower thanks on all who have helped get the book that far. These include but are not limited to the publisher, the entire book editorial and production teams, sales, the booksellers, the author’s supportive friends and family and anyone who had absolutely any role in organizing his or her fantastic book party.
Once quite typical of most book launches, book tours took authors around the country (or parts thereof); in each city, there would be at least one bookstore signing and as many media appearances as the publicist could book into a given (often starting as early as 6am with a radio show). Today, a book tour is now a marketing vehicle usually reserved for proven, top authors who can draw crowds. An example would be Lena Dunham, whose extensive platform as the creator and star of the HBO TV show Girls and her huge Twitter following help bring crowds to her author tour events.
Satellite Media Tour
During a satellite media tour, an author sits in a television studio in one location, and does a series of live, staggered interviews with television stations around the country. The interviews are pre-scheduled by the media company who runs the tour. Radio stations have a version of this, as well. This is a great way to reach a wide TV audience, but it can cost in the neighborhood of $25,000+ for half a day’s television tour.
Blog Tour, Skype Tour
These are alternative ways for authors to connect with their readership, similar to satellite media tours, but less expensive. The blog tour involves lining up bloggers and interacting with them and their readers; the Skype tour brings the satellite media tour to the web, so everyone can see you.
Point of Sale Materials
Point-of-sale materials include such items as posters, postcards, bookmarks, easelback signage (the kind that stands on a counter) that promote and support your independent bookstore appearances and book signings.) While there are always exceptions, posters aren’t much used by stores and are generally not worth the expense.
Media training can be extremely helpful to ensure an author is comfortable fielding questions on television or radio, and presents him or herself well and to the best advantage. However, media training can cost upwards of $4500 or more for two days, not including travel or prep fees.
There was a time when publishers would pick up the costs for authors who needed a little media “polish,” but the sticker price is more than most books’ entire publicity budget, and so media training is offered carefully, if at all.
Generally, the expense of book mailings (the cost of the books, the cost of the postage, the cost of the labor) is tightly controlled and limited to those media lists deemed critical for the book by the publicist. If you’re well connected in an industry related to the subject of your book or otherwise have friends in high places, your in-house publicist might bend rules and send extras to you or do a round “big mouth” mailings to help the book “buzz.”
Diane H. Wong is a search engine optimization specialist and business coach. Besides, she is a research paper writer at domywriting.com so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.