Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Brian Hill & Dee Power

Publicity: A Critical Ingredient To The Success of an Author
By Dee Power and Brian Hill
By Dee Power and Brian Hill

      Publicity is an important ingredient in the success of any author. We were lucky enough to interview Theresa Meyers, the founder and president of Blue Moon Communications, Theresa has been a publicist for numerous New York Times bestsellers that have included authors such as Carly Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Susan Andersen, Pamela Morsi and others.

You work closely with publishers and authors. How often are you in contact? “I give status reports regarding my PR activities on a regular basis to clients, which include both publishers and individual authors. I am usually in contact with them on a daily basis by phone or e-mail.”

What are some of the specific tactics you have successfully employed for clients?
“Placing stories in trade media in order to reach both readers and booksellers. Radio is one of the easiest and most effective ways for an author to reach a large audience. Drivetime radio is particularly effective. Radio interviews don’t involve a lot of expense or time for the author. The author can be interviewed from his or her own home. And there aren’t the travel expenses you would have with a book tour for example.”

How do you go about designing a PR campaign for a bestselling author? “You start by doing a brand analysis. First we analyze the authors brand to see where it is at versus where the client wants it to be and then we ask what do we want people to remember?

“Fiction publicity is totally different from non-fiction publicity. In non-fiction, you can take the book’s theme or subject matter and use that as your core message point, such as “how to raise a healthy child.” With fiction, the media doesn’t care that you have written another book. What they want to know is what do you offer as an author in terms of: exploding a myth, offering opportunity or proposing a solution. With Carly’s book, The Bachelor, we had to decide which of three of those tactics to take, and make sure the messages were consistent in all the media we worked with, including her web site. We developed a logo for her that carried this message. We came up with sound bites for her to use in interviews.”

What are some other methods you used to get the message out besides print media and radio? “Having contests on her web site, giving away free goodies, has been very successful. This helps build database of readers, and it keeps them coming back to the web site. We also use a monthly newsletter. With newsletters, it is important that you send out fresh material, keep the website updated regularly.”

One an author becomes popular enough to reach bestselling status, why does he or she still need a PR person assisting them? “A bestselling author needs a publicist more than a starting author. Once you reach bestselling status, the entire way that people look at you, their perception of you, changes dramatically. You haven’t changed, your writing hasn’t, but the perception of you has. This puts a whole new degree of pressure on a writer, expectations from readers and publishers both.

“Suddenly you get many invitations to speak at conferences. Book signings become a big deal involving a lot of planning and coordination. The author may have in the past had to plead to let bookseller have a signing at their store.

“The author has to have some organized way to filter all this information, these requests, these offers—and continue to write the books. So I filter a lot of this for clients, and only bring them things that absolutely have to be handled by the client. I work on scheduling the interviews, sending out proposals for conferences, and just in general filter people who ask for client time.

“There is another critical function a publicist can perform and one that is not widely known: a crisis management plan. With the celebrity status that comes with being a bestselling author, there is inevitably somebody out there is going to want to use your name in the press in a negative way. The author needs a plan in place to deal with any of these situations that may arise, even scenarios that seem far out such as, What if one of the author’s children were kidnapped by someone wanting media attention? How would we deal with this type of serious situation? What statement would the author issue to the media?”

How do you promote an upcoming book? “For every client it is different, but there are some things that generally are considered in each client plan. I work 7-8 months in advance on things, doing such things as placing media in women’s magazines.

“The book tour must be planned well in advance, as well as speaking engagements at conferences

“We are looking at possibly doing a satellite media tour. This involves having the author sit in a TV studio, usually in New York or Los Angeles, and do brief, 5-minute interviews over a three hours stretch with TV stations all over the country. These are the short segments you often see on the evening news on local stations.

“The job of promoting a bestselling author involves a lot more than sending out press releases.”


Thanks for an enlightening interview Theresa.

2005 Past Columns

© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.