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Books PR & Marketing Questions Answered Part X: What to do on a budget

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One of the comments on my last post in which I asked writers if they liked their online persona, suggested the following:

“I would like to suggest a follow-up post you might consider. This one would be for older writers like me. They grew up without online anything, but in a time when values and standards related to the written word took precedence for anyone who wanted to be a writer. They still have something to say (even to younger readers), and know how to say it, but are lost in cyberspace.

What guidance or advice could you give to such writers? You run a successful PR company, and some writers with deep pockets might be able to do business with you. But what about others with some money, but limited resources? If the writing itself is what still matters, older writers need someone like you to point the way through the minefield. Otherwise, we will be silenced before our time.” – Barry Knister

Dear Lost in Cyberspace,

A good percentage of my client base is above 60. I’ve launched books by authors who have published for the first time at 80-something. To say I adore writers of retirement age would be an understatement. Why? They listen carefully. They are present. They show considerable patience. They value time. They respect the outcome even if it’s not the desired outcome.

The other night I took my daughter to the Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden sponsored by iHeartRadio and Z100-FM. The crowd was rabid with pop music fans in glowing reindeer headgear and bright bulb necklaces. The evening was fantastic, but what I remember the most is singer/songwriter Charlie Puth saying the following, and I paraphrase…It’s great to see my songs on TikTok remixed by so many, but nothing beats this. His hand pans over the crowd of thousands that he just sang his heart out to. And man can he sing.

My advice to you Barry:

Tell your story.

  1. Draft a pitch letter or press release about your book. Include the who, what, where, when, why. Compare it to other known books, movies, or TV shows, even. Include a newsworthy angle if at all possible. (If you need samples email me at am@getredpr.com.)
  2. After you’ve found the editor of your local paper, email them your pitch or snail mail a copy of your book with a copy of the pitch. Remember to say what town you live in. If you don’t hear back, send another email a few weeks later.

  3. Go beyond local to your regional daily and magazine. Some communities even have local cable access programs and news and lifestyle websites that you can pitch.

  4. Every time you read a books round-up i.e. “Five Thrillers to Read in 2023” or a book review in a newspaper, magazine, or on a website, and you believe your book might be of interest to that media member, document his or her name. Often there is a brief bio for that person at the end of the article and if you’re lucky an email address. If not, do some online sleuthing to find that email address. Keep emails short and respectful. Don’t send attachments.

  5. Catch up on your correspondence. Put together a list of friends and family and draft them a brief email about your new book and include a link to buy. Consider sending them a copy of the book and ask if they could post a picture on Instagram or leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub.

  6. Hit the town. Rehearse your pitch, load up your car with your books, and head to your local bookstore and gift shops to ask if they’ll carry your book. This is not easy work and constantly speaking about your book and having to hand sell is exhausting. Every time you persuade someone to carry your book in their store, ride that adrenaline and quickly head to the next.

  7. Make friends in the author community. I’ve said this before, and I’ll keep saying it because it’s a beautiful thing – authors are incredibly supportive. Various fiction writer co-ops really work to build awareness about an author’s work

  8. One thing I have discovered about my retirement-age clients is that most are on Facebook. There are many great reader groups. Join them, read the rules, and respond as appropriate. Opportunities here could include takeovers and giveaways, amongst others.

  9. Determine a budget – whether that’s $200 or $2,000. You will need to spend some money so be sure your budget is set.

  10. The websites you frequent, inquire about the cost to advertise on sites or in their newsletters. If this works and you need art, you can try Canva a do-it-yourself-free design too or if that’s too much, look to Fiverr, a freelancer services marketplace.

  11. Hire a book tour company, as they provide great exposure as well as some reviews which you can utilize in your press materials or data on retail. Most I know are reasonably priced and have some great influencers under their umbrella. Possibilities with book tour companies include Buddy Reads, Little Free Library Tours, #Bookstagram, and more.

  12. Be sure your Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, and BookBub author pages are active. No matter how lost in cyberspace you are, this is important. If it’s proving to be too complicated, shoot me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

  13. Years ago, writers would blog on Myspace and Blogger, and Blogspot. Now, you can find people on Substack or Medium.

  14. Manage your expectations. Not everything will lead to sales, but you could create great awareness and build relationships and readers for life.

Hope this helps.

If anyone has a marketing or PR question you’d like to have answered, drop it in the comments and I’ll add it to my list for next year.

I leave you with my favorite meme of the week.


Happy Holidays! See you next year.

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AC Admin

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