Monday, May 6, 2013

Cold Calls, Publicity, and Uninvolved Authors

by Susan Violante

Over the last few months I've been inundated by authors asking me to review their book or manuscript. I've been also inundated with cold-call press releases - some just announcing the book, some wanting a free review, and others wanting an interview. Many times I just ignore them and other times I send a link to our guidelines. But what I find interesting is the fact that many of these cold calls come through our website's contact form, and although they did visit our website, they totally ignore our submission guidelines. Not only are these people asking me to take the time to read their cold call email and even read their book, they are also asking this for free when they didn't even take the time to read our submission guidelines.

Other authors get creative and keep asking more and more information about our services only to finally thank me for my time, and to tell me that since they have no money to invest on promotion, they sure appreciate my opinion on their manuscript attached. I find that it is amazing the quantity of authors that expect free services from us. I really don't understand this concept because these same authors expect to be paid for their books, and more so, if they are employees or business owners who want to be paid for their time. Yet, it seems that the concept of others wanting to be paid for their work/time is foreign to them.
But, it's not only authors that don't honor a two-way street. I receive numerous press releases from publicists per day asking for reviews and interviews for the authors they represent. They charge authors for their time and efforts, yet these same publicists expect others to offer their services to them for free. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the business and know that book reviews are requested to bloggers and other media representatives, but we are a book review service after all, even though we also offer free reviews. The fact that there are some publicists charging authors thousands of dollars for their time in promoting their books, and then they don't even take the time to read the submission guidelines to ensure the title gets reviewed, is appalling to me.

This is why it’s imperative that the authors keep involved in their book’s promotion, even when hiring a publicist. In the end, the author is the interested party, and thus needs to be outspoken and involved on their title's campaign. Remember, publicity does not guarantee readers will go running to purchase any book. Publicity's goal is exposure, to give the book the best possible chance. Here are some points to consider when deciding how to, and who to hire to promote your book.

1. Before deciding to hire a publicist make sure you have realistic expectations on what the publicist will do for you, and what you are paying for.

2. Take a marketing and publicity workshop. There are plenty affordable workshops offered by writer's associations. Actually, I've attended even free workshops hosted by our writer's League here in Austin! It is imperative that authors have at least the basics down whether they hire someone or they tackle their promotion efforts themselves.

3. Consider hiring a publishing / publicity coach during the writing stages of your book. There are many things that can be put into place to create a platform while writing the book, doing so can give you a better chance for a successful publicity campaign. Or, if the book is already out, a coach can help you improve your platform for better sales.

In the end, if authors are looking to sell their books they need to think of themselves as a CEO and their book as their business, make knowledgeable decisions when campaigning their books, and most importantly expect and prepare to invest money on promoting. Make sure to be proactive and informed on what you are purchasing. It is OK to request free reviews, but be respectful enough to follow guidelines when submitting. Taking the time to read the guidelines will give your book a better chance to get reviewed.

For more information on coaching, email me for a free 15 minutes phone consultation at


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