Friday, January 15, 2010

Ask Publicists Linda and Jim O'Connor

I am delighted to have O'Connor Communications to address a few of questions about the pursuit of publicity for our books. This is the first of five blogs on the subject.

Lynda O’Connor is a principal of O’Connor Communications and takes the lead in book publicity activities. She and Jim O'Connor represent 23 authors, organizing national and regional book campaigns, book tours, media interviews, speaking engagements, media training, special events, and press materials. The couple won three national awards for the best book publicity in the country. Authors Lynda has represented describe her as "knowledgeable, professional, tireless, tenacious, creative, enthusiastic and dedicated". Both O'Connors work closely with their clients and makes sure they get the attention that they deserve. Lynda and Jim go across the country, speaking at writers’ conferences on How to Launch your Book through Powerful Publicity and Marketing. Visit for information on the books O'Connor Communications have publicized and for the endorsements from their authors.

Lynda, welcome, and thank you for agreeing to give authors some information and guidance about marketing.

Why does an author need public relations? 

We all dream that the publisher will promote our book. The reality is that in YOUR BOOK PROPOSAL, you have to tell the publisher how you will promote your book. Publishers publish hundreds of books a year, and they just don't have the time or staff to to devote to any one book. Yes, it you are Scott Turow, Sue Grafton, or James Patterson, the publisher will get behind you and promote you like heck because they know your book will sell, but if you are still unknown, they won't put the muscle behind you. It should be the opposite - the publisher should promote an unknown, but that is not how it works.
Public relations will get you in the news. It gets your message to your audience and informs them who you are and what you are writing about. Through interviews in newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and the internet, you can discuss what your book is about and why it is important to read.

What is the difference between public relations and advertising?
Advertising is great. It assures that you will be in a certain publication on the date that you want it. You pay the publication a lot of money and it is a sure thing. However, everyone knows that you paid for this and many people don't read ads. Ads are not news.
Public relations involves news. PR is considered a highly credible form of promotion because one cannot pay an editor or publication to be in that publication. Only if the media outlet likes the story and thinks it is relevant to its readers/listeners will they put it in the news. It is a third party endorsement of you as an author. Public relations is the cultivation of positive ideas about a person or product through a variety of communications channels and tools -TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, blogs and the internet. It builds awareness and a favorable image through stories in media outlets, and it enhances and manages the reputation by putting the client in the most favorable light.
A well -structured PR campaign can result in the author being exposed to more detailed information than they receive with an ad. A feature story in a newspaper can tell a lot more about an author than can an ad.
PR is a lot less expensive than advertising.
The disadvantage of PR is that you don't have direct control over your message. You can't tell the reporter what to say so that your message may not be precisely what you planned. Also, there is always a chance that your release will get "bumped" from planned media coverage because of a breaking news story like a war or severe weather.

Is it scary being in the news?
The worst part of being in the news is thinking about it. The anticipation of it is the worst. If you prepare properly, then you will be OK. Once you begin your interview, you will love it and will become addicted to it. It is an amazing high and you will have the time of your life with it. After you have been exposed to the media. you will want to do more and more interviews and they will get easier with each appearance.

How do we prepare for our appearances?
Put together a media kit - a professional photo of you, a photo of your book cover, your biography, a summary of your book, a testimonial from someone well known who has read your book, and other media which has covered your book already. Have this in email format as well as hard copies.
Send the kit and your book to the producer of the show a few weeks before your interview. Follow-up with the producer to make sure he has all the material he needs.
Before you go on the air, practice. Ask a friend to play radio with you so that you can give great sound bites and advice. Listen to yourself and see if you are pacing yourself properly. Are you talking too fast or too slow?
In the beginning, listen to the show you are supposed to go on. What is the name of the host who will interview you? Make sure you address him by name when he interviews you so that it seems that you are friends. See what questions the host throws out. Does he go for the laughs? Is the show in a serious vein or more fun? You will feel more comfortable if you know the slant of the show.

How can we leverage our media coverage?
Follow - up and analyze your interview. Watch and listen to what you said. How did you do on the air? Did you say, "ahhh" too much? did you talk to fast? Were you boring? Did you say the name of your host? Did you make is sound like you were buddies? Were you funny and informative? Think about how you could have done better and improve next time.
Make sure you write a thank you note to the producer and ask him if he can recommend you to other producers.
Send out a notice to your friends that you will appear on the show. Put your appearance on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.
When you pitch other shows, tell them that you have been covered by other media.

Lynda and Jim will tackle another topic on Jan. 17th. Please drop by and let us know if your questions are being answered. Feel free to leave comments and questions for the O'Connors to help you with your publicity efforts.
Contact Information:

Lynda O'Connor, Principal
333 Warwick Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045
Phone: (847) 615-5462 , Fax: (847) 615-5465

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Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks for this valuable information.

Jacqueline Seewald

Susan Whitfield said...

Jacqueline, I know many writers, including myself, who want to know more about what a publicist can offer that we can't do well ourselves. I appreciate Lynda agreeing to post a few tips we all can use.

Susan Whitfield said...

Lynda, how do we get someone "well-known" to read our book?

Lynda O'Connor said...

Susan, I am constatnly networking. I go to parties, BEA, Writers Conferences, and I participate in my community a lot. I belong to a country club, play on a tennis team, paddle tennis team, and am chairman of several committees for out town, Lake Forest, Illinois. By being part of your community, you can meet someone "well known" to read your book because someone should know someone who is an author, a journalist, or a famous scientist. Have a mindset of how you can help others and then they will help you. Authors are good people to read your book because they can evaluate it for you and give you a testimonial. I have found one of the best way to meet authors is to go to book signings. I found my best client at a book signing where I was the only person there. It ended up that the author was related to someone I knew well. I invited him to my home that day and started communicating with him about his book. Simon & Schuster was his publisher and he was a good writer. After 6 months of getting no real help from Simon & Schuster he gave me a project to do...I arranged a media tour for him in the Nortwestern part of the country. He loved me and told me that I did more for him in two weeks than Simon & Schuster did for him in a year. He raved about me to his writer friends and they started calling me for PR help. I also think that a great way for a well known person to read your book is to pay them to do it. If you live near a university, go to the English department and speak to the head of the department. They may have some ideas or know someone who may want to read your book. Be creative and open to ideas here.