Publish & Prosper

Earning Free Publicity for Your Book

February 21, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 13
Earning Free Publicity for Your Book
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
Earning Free Publicity for Your Book
Feb 21, 2024 Season 1 Episode 13
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode, Matt & Lauren debate earned promotion, PR and publicity efforts, and creator collaborations. Learn how to promote your book with earned media opportunities, book signings, public speaking, and collaboration with fellow creators.


Dive Deeper

💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch These Videos


Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [8:01] “This idea of pitching yourself is not the easiest thing for a lot of people. It's hard for us to talk about ourselves sometimes in that sort of salesy kind of way to a degree. But I think if you do it the way we've talked about doing other activities on social media, by just showing up and being sincere and genuine and yourself and, most of all, respectful, I think you'll get a couple of yeses amongst all the nos.”

🎙️ [15:56] “Be intentional with your pitch. So, like [Lauren] said, make sure that you really try to understand who you're pitching to, what their audience is, and why they should care about your book or whatever it is you're trying to pitch to them. And again, don't just copy and paste the same pitch to every person on your list. Try to really get a better understanding of why they might be interested and what angle you should take with them.” 

🎙️ [37:25] “You need to be sure that you're providing equal value to the person that you're trying to collaborate with. If your content and your brand isn't a good fit for their audience and vice versa, then it's not gonna be worth either of your time to do this kind of collaboration. So do your research, look for people that are a good fit for your brand.” 


💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at podcast@lulu.com
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.


Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Matt & Lauren debate earned promotion, PR and publicity efforts, and creator collaborations. Learn how to promote your book with earned media opportunities, book signings, public speaking, and collaboration with fellow creators.


Dive Deeper

💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch These Videos


Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [8:01] “This idea of pitching yourself is not the easiest thing for a lot of people. It's hard for us to talk about ourselves sometimes in that sort of salesy kind of way to a degree. But I think if you do it the way we've talked about doing other activities on social media, by just showing up and being sincere and genuine and yourself and, most of all, respectful, I think you'll get a couple of yeses amongst all the nos.”

🎙️ [15:56] “Be intentional with your pitch. So, like [Lauren] said, make sure that you really try to understand who you're pitching to, what their audience is, and why they should care about your book or whatever it is you're trying to pitch to them. And again, don't just copy and paste the same pitch to every person on your list. Try to really get a better understanding of why they might be interested and what angle you should take with them.” 

🎙️ [37:25] “You need to be sure that you're providing equal value to the person that you're trying to collaborate with. If your content and your brand isn't a good fit for their audience and vice versa, then it's not gonna be worth either of your time to do this kind of collaboration. So do your research, look for people that are a good fit for your brand.” 


💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at podcast@lulu.com
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.


Matt: Hello everybody, thanks for joining us for another episode of Publish & Prosper, and thank you to my co-host Lauren for showing up. That's always nice when she does that. 

Lauren: It was a little touch and go today, not going to lie. There was a chance. 

Matt: We won't talk about why. But what we will be talking about today is PR and publicity. So, continuing on with the author marketing series that we've been slowly working our way through, we are at the point now where it's time to talk about that shameless promotion of yourself, of your book, of your trilogy, whatever it might be that you're working on, and we'll break down some of those mythical activities that belong in the world of PR and publicity. 

Lauren: Sounds pretty good to me. 

Matt: Yeah, we'll see. 

Lauren: I mean, it's going to be a lot of us telling people over and over and over again that they just have to shamelessly promote themselves. 

Matt: Is that what PR is? 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: So we're done. 

Lauren: Yes, that's it. Episode done.

Matt: What are we going to talk about for the next 40 minutes? 

Lauren: Oh, I'm sure we could think of something. 

Matt: Alright. Hopefully it's Disney-related. 

Lauren: Yeah, you know, we know we didn't. Well, I was going to say we didn't do much of a Disney recap post-PodFest, but I was the only one that went to Disney, so that makes it hard. 

Matt: Yeah, that's fair, I was sick laid up in the hotel room, not feeling great.

Lauren: Sorry.

Matt: For anybody that saw me at PodFest, by the way, and I didn't talk to you or I probably look like a zombie. That's why, and I apologize. 

Lauren: Fair enough 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Fair enough, but you made it. 

Matt: I did. 

Lauren: You made it through. 

Matt: Yeah, it was alright. 

Lauren: But yeah, no, I mean, there's always the backup option for any episode of just talking about Disney for 45 minutes. 

Matt: Yeah, I feel like I'm a little burnt out on Taylor Swift, so I'd love to do more Disney talk. You guys should see Lauren's face right now. 

Lauren: While wearing a Taylor Swift tshirt. 

Matt: A Taylor Swift jersey. I might add a custom Taylor Swift Kansas City Chiefs-looking jersey. I believe is what I'm staring at. 

Lauren: That is exactly what it is. Designed by The Lost Bros. It's a Disney brand that makes like a Disney fan brand, so.  

Matt: You did bring it around. Okay, good job on that one. And I guess, to tie all this together, this is being recorded the day after the Super Bowl.

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Yeah we're not going to go into that, but you can always Google search what happened if you're listening to this way later. 

Lauren: Yeah, I'm going to have to Google search what happened, too, because I fell asleep before it ended. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: It’s fine.

Matt: I'm not really much of a Super Bowl person or an NFL person, but…

Lauren: Honestly, the best Super Bowl I ever watched was the year that I didn't care at all about what was happening, I don't even know what teams were playing, so I just lined up like three football movies and watched those instead. It was great. 

Matt: The best part of the Super Bowls in the past was always when they asked them you know, you just won the Super Bowl, now what are you doing? And they always say I'm going to Disney World. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Did they do that anymore?

Lauren: I actually did see a post on Instagram that was like I think it was Patrick Mahomes saying he was going to Disneyland, but.

Matt: And he's the quarterback for the Chiefs. 

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: Okay. 

Lauren: I think he's the quarterback. 

Matt: Yeah, I think you're right.

Lauren: I don't know, I'm the wrong person to ask. 

Matt: Yeah, well, at least somebody said they were going to Disney World. 

Lauren: That's true. 

Matt: That's the only thing the Super Bowl is good for. 

Lauren: I know. 

Matt: Oh, we're going to get so much hate mail now. 

Lauren: They don't have anywhere to send it, so it's fine. 

Matt: That's true. Actually, they do know. 

Lauren: Do they? Yeah, I'm working on it. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Technically, they don't yet have anywhere to send it.

Matt: Okay, fair enough. 

Lauren: That'll come later. 

Matt: Yeah, we're just getting brave enough to give you guys an email address that you can reach out to us at if you're so inclined to. Up to this point, we've been worried to release one. 

Lauren: Might be brave, might be very foolish. 

Matt: Yeah, we'll see. 

Lauren: Might be an empty inbox full of crickets and cobwebs and dead air. 

Matt: Yeah, that's always a possibility. 

Lauren: But there’s only one way for us to find out. So, yeah, we'll get that email set up soon and share that with y'all. But until then, maybe we should talk a little bit about how people can send emails to other people to pitch themselves for some earned media. 

Matt: If we must. 

Lauren: Yes, unfortunately we must. 


[4:20]

Matt: Alright. So what is earned media? Maybe we should explain what we mean when we say earned media, because I don't know that we're… You know we don't have a lot of listeners, but I'm assuming most of them are probably not marketers. Maybe some of them are. So what does earned media mean? 

Lauren: That's a great point. 

Matt: Thanks. 

Lauren: You're so welcome. So earned media is more or less exactly what it sounds like. It's any kind of promotion or recognition for your book, your brand, your product, whatever, that you're not paying for. So you have not contracted somebody and are exchanging money for your book to be promoted, but rather, free of cost, because of the quality of your content, your book is being promoted. 

Matt: Right. So in a sense, you've created something that somebody else took an interest in and they wanted to help promote it, thus earned media. You earned that action from that other party to promote your work. Anytime you, you get an opportunity based on the content you created not because you paid for that opportunity or anything else it’s, it's earned media. 

Lauren: Right, and that can be anything from like, literally a book review somebody wrote a review of your book, to your book was included in a list of ‘here are our top 10 favorite business books that we've read in the last year.’ Or, you know, something as broad as a local newspaper is featuring you in an article or something. So there's a pretty broad range of things and opportunities that could fall into the category of earned media, but the short and sweet explanation - which we've already far surpassed - either, being either short or sweet about this. 

Matt: Agree. 

Lauren: It's promotion that you're not paying for, because you have earned the promotion. 


[6:01]

Matt: Yeah. So how do you get a local journalist or somebody like that to write about you? You mentioned that. How would I do that? 

Lauren: You have to pitch yourself for it. 

Matt: I have to pitch myself. 

Lauren: Mmhmm. Because that is the catch with this. You know, 95% of the time with really any kind of earned media, you have to actually ask for it or, at the very least, pitch yourself for it. 

Matt: Yeah, I don't like this already. 

Lauren: I know, I know this is another one of those things where it's… marketing is so extroverted and we are not. But it's really important, honestly. Earned media is not easy to get, but it is incredibly valuable and these are opportunities that can be like a huge game changer for your brand, for your book sales, for getting new readers, for connecting you with other creators. Whatever it is, as daunting as it might sound to do all of this, it's really important and it's really valuable. 

Matt: Yeah, I agree. PR and publicity is one of those facets of marketing, book marketing, where it is a little harder for some people. It's one thing to, to send an email to somebody, right? That's a pretty non-intrusive activity. You don't necessarily feel like you're being overly salesy or marketing. So if you're an introvert, or you're just somebody who doesn't have a lot of experience marketing, or you just don't like the idea of it, you know, some of those things that we've talked about in previous episodes or in general, are a little easier. PR can be a little more outward-facing and a little tougher, especially if you're not quite sure how to approach it. So hopefully that's what you get out of this episode.
And again, the first one we're talking about here, getting earned media, that one can be, as Lauren said, a little daunting or intimidating, because the basis of how you get earned media is by pitching yourself. And whether you're pitching yourself in a piece of written content like a press release or something, or you're pitching yourself in an email to a couple of local news outlets or a couple local bookstores that you're hoping will invite you in for a signing or something like that, this idea of pitching yourself is not the easiest thing for a lot of people. It's hard for us to talk about ourselves sometimes in that sort of salesy kind of way to a degree. But I think if you do it the way we've talked about doing other activities on social media, by just showing up and being sincere and genuine in yourself and, most of all, respectful, I think you'll get a couple of yeses amongst all the nos. And you will get nos, so don't be discouraged, and you'll get non-responses. So again, don't be discouraged. People who do PR for a living have to have some of the thickest skins on the planet. I mean, some of the stuff they do is just constant rejection or non-communication. Like, I don't answer a lot of emails that come into my inbox that I know are from salespeople or PR people, but.

Lauren: Oh my god, same.

Matt: So, yeah, you're gonna get nos, you're gonna get non-answers. Don't get discouraged. You'll get a yes every now and again and you just make the best opportunity you can with that yes for that earned media spot. 

Lauren: Yeah for sure. Some of the ways to make sure that you are… not make sure that you are getting those yeses, because you really can't guarantee yourself that in any way, but some of the ways that you can maximize your potential for getting a yes. Whoever you're pitching to, whether it's an outlet or a person, make sure you do your research ahead of time and make sure that however you're submitting this pitch is exactly what they're asking for. If you're looking for somebody for book reviews, let's say you're looking, you're like reaching out for book reviews. Make sure that the person that you're submitting your book to for a book review is open to reviews right now. People that are reviewers will say all the time on their websites or their socials or wherever like I'm not currently accepting pitches, I'll open submissions again later. Definitely, do not submit anything to that person If they're saying that they're not taking pitches right now. Like the only thing you're gonna do is burn a bridge if you blatantly disregard that. 

Some people will also give you very specific guidelines about how to pitch to them. They say like, I'm not interested in the specifics of what your book is about. What I'm interested in is: give me three reasons why it's relevant to my audience. Give me three reasons why I should talk about your book. What makes your book unique? What makes you unique? What can you bring to the table, like why would my audience care about this book that you're pitching to me? If somebody wants to come to me and say like, hey, do you want to read this horror anthology and advertise it on your podcast, that would be a very interesting submission, because I'd be like well, I don't like horror anthologies and my podcast is not about horror fiction, so, interesting choice, pitching it to me, thank you, but no thank you. It might work better for Matt, though. Matt might actually accept your horror novel. 

Matt: Matt's actually thinking maybe I need to start my own podcast about horror. 

Lauren: Yeah, maybe you should. 

Matt: Yeah, if I do, I'll let everybody know, and then you can send me your pitches for your horror book. 

Lauren: Perfect. 

Matt: Because I would love to talk to you. 

Lauren: I think that actually could be a lot of fun for you. When you get bored with this podcast, we can start a spin off podcast that Matt can talk about horror novels and I can talk about romance novels, because those things go hand in hand, totally normal. 

Matt: Hey, that's not a bad idea. Actually 

Lauren: Could be a lot of fun. 

Matt: Beauty and the Beast. 

Lauren: Sounds great. 

Matt: Alright, stay tuned for that one. Back to the topic again. 

Lauren: Okay. Man, I lost my train of thought. 

Matt: That's because I just threw out a really good idea. 

Lauren: I know, I - 

Matt: Actually you threw it out, I just ran with it. 

Lauren: That's fine. That's fine, ‘yes, and’ is really important on a podcast. So, that's okay, Alright. Anyway, make sure that you're sticking to the guidelines that people have provided for you, that's the whole purpose of this. And also keep it short, sweet and to the point. Everything that we are not on this podcast. 

Matt: But, to be fair, that is one of the hardest things to do, especially as the creator of your own work. You put all this time and effort into something. It's really hard to be short and sweet about it. Sometimes, either you're just so excited and you really want to talk about this thing and you really want to breathe life into it out there in the world and get people to help you talk about it, or you know, again, you're just not good at not censoring yourself but really metering yourself when it comes to how much you might talk about it, and picking out the most important things to focus on that might be important, like you said, to that particular person or entity that you're pitching to. That can be really hard and, yes, even on this podcast, sometimes we find it hard to keep it short and sweet, but hopefully some people have longer commutes and they put up with our, our rambling. 

Lauren: That’s what we're relying on.

Matt: But for your pitches, absolutely. Keep it short and sweet. 

 Lauren: And relevant. If I'm pitching a book for… somebody's doing a list of books to support during Pride. If you don't mention… like I know, this seems really obvious, maybe. But if you're submitting your book to be featured as a part of Pride Month, point out why your book is relevant.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Don't assume that people are going to assume why your book is relevant just because you're pitching it. You got to actually say, like I'm a queer author, this is a novel with queer characters in it, and here is one to two sentences about how it'll fit on this list or why it would be good to be featured or what makes it unique or something like that. We've talked about that elevator pitch idea in the past. If you want to practice and it, somehow it feels… because it's always harder, or at least I find it harder, to explain your own work. If you want to practice and get in the habit of doing it, try doing it with your favorite movies and TV shows. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: If you want to say I'm going to try to convince my family to watch this movie that I love, practice drafting up a couple of elevator pitches for it.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: And see, it's a lot easier to do it with somebody else's content, especially if it's content that you're very familiar with. 

Matt: That's actually a good point, I think, if you think about it. Actually most of us do that anyways. We just don't realize that's what we're doing. So, like the other day, I was trying to explain to Joe Pulizzi this show that I love on Apple TV called Slow Horses, which is based off of a book series by Mick Herron, and so I was trying to think about the fastest, most simple but enticing way to pitch the show to him. I think we all do that right. You might, on a daily basis, talk to a coworker about a TV show you watch, or I might be trying to - actually just like with you earlier, quickly pitch an older Disney movie that you hadn't seen yet to try and get you to go and watch it, because I feel like it's tragic that you didn't. 

Lauren: You're right about that. It is tragic that I haven't. You're completely correct. 

Matt: So technically, actually, you made a good point. I think a lot of us actually do experiment with the concept of an elevator pitch whenever we do these things and we just don't realize it. You know, we do this all the time. That's just a variation of it, and if you think about that and then bring that to the drawing board with crafting one for your own book or your content, I think you might find an easier go of it. 

Lauren: Yes, we definitely do. People do that all the time. It's not as daunting and unfamiliar as you might think it is, and it's also…with our elevator pitches on everyday life, like, we very often will include comparisons. So if that's something that's helpful to you, definitely keep that in mind while you're working on an elevator pitch for your book. It's also totally valid to come up with a few different ones and kind of use them situationally, depending on what and where they're relevant. Matt pitching Black Cauldron to me makes more sense because he's pitching to me as a classic Disney fan, so he has specific reference points that he could make to sell me on the movie that are specific to me. But if he was trying to pitch it to somebody else that maybe wasn't a Disney fan and instead he was just trying to say it’s this cool old movie, like you should totally watch it, he might have a different version of that sales pitch - 

Matt: Definitely. 

Lauren: To get somebody other than me to watch it. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Which is going to be definitely a big point. Probably my last point here and then we'll move on, I swear, but definitely something to keep in mind when you're pitching yourself for earned media. Please do not just do like a formulaic insert sir/madam here and then everything else about it is the same. 

Matt: But isn't that your favorite, when you get an email that says Dear Lauren or Dear Laur? 

Lauren: No, no, it is not. No, no, it definitely is not. 

Matt: I actually like the wording you used in your outline for this episode and she used the phrase be intentional, and I think that's really important to latch on to is to be intentional with your pitch. So, like she said, make sure that you really try to understand who you're pitching to, what their audience is and why they should care about your book or whatever it is you're trying to pitch to them. And again, don't just copy and paste the same pitch to every person on your list. Try to really get a better understanding of why they might be interested and what angle you should take with them. 

Lauren: Yeah. And if you put together a list of people that you're trying to pitch your content to and you can't come up with a reason that your book or your brand is a good fit for that outlet, then you shouldn't be pitching to them. 

Matt: Yeah, I mean that's fair too. 

Lauren: Especially if this is something that's overwhelming to you and it sounds like a lot of work and you don't want to be doing it and getting little to no return. You're not going to get a positive answer from somebody that you're not a good fit, so. Definitely keep that in mind while you're putting together your pitches. 

Matt: Yeah. 


[16:43]

Lauren: One other thing that is very helpful for you to have as a resource for yourself while you are pitching yourself for earned media is gonna be a press kit. We've referenced having a press kit before. We've talked about this not in too much detail, but we've definitely talked about it in other episodes. I'm also going to link a blog post in the show notes that breaks down more of the specifics of how to put together a press kit, what you should have in there. But just kind of want to run through it quickly on here. This is again for yourself. It's nice to have a version of this that you can maybe share publicly, that would have some of this content in it, but this is mostly just for your own reference. It makes it a lot easier, as you're doing all these pitches, to have all this stuff readily available. 

So you're going to want your book cover art, a high quality PDF or JPEG of it. That's just going to be like the front cover. You know you don't need the whole thing. And a headshot, a nice author photo. I really hope that I don't have to remind people that your author photo should be a decent, high quality photo and not a bathroom mirror selfie that you took on a Razr back in 2007. 

Matt:  A Razr. 

Lauren: Did they even have cameras on Razrs? 

Matt: On Motorola Razr. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Yes. 

Lauren: Wow. 

Matt:  I definitely had my fair share of Razors. Prior to that I don't know that cameras were very prevalent. You're talking, you know Nokias, the candy bars and stuff, and I don't think cameras were very… but the Motorola Razr definitely had a camera. 

Lauren: Nice.

Matt: Yeah. I had several of those. 

Lauren: I never did, which is probably for the best, because I probably would have snapped it in half. 

Matt:  I definitely broke one or two of them. Yeah. There's also a decent age difference between you and I, so at that point that the Razr was out, I was already probably paying for my own phones. 

Lauren: Oh yeah, no, I was. I was in high school when they were trendy, so I was on my parents' cell phone plan. 

Matt:  Hopefully nobody's out there doing the math, since you just really aged me, but. 

Lauren: You're the one who said there was an age difference. 

Matt: Yeah, but I wasn't specific.

Lauren: I think you're aging yourself.

Matt: Alright. Anyways, your point is correct. Please do not send a headshot to somebody that looks like you took it with a potato. 

Lauren: Exactly. You're also going to want to include for yourself just some basic copy. Your author bio, which should also be, like many other things we've said in this episode, short, sweet and relevant, and then again elevator pitch of your book and your full length cover copy. You might also want to include just like a list of genre, categories, stuff like that. And then also something you're going to have handy a list of all of your favorite reviews. And you don't need to share that list publicly. It's…you want to pull reviews every now and then one or two to include in a pitch sometimes, but it's a great thing to have like a Word doc or Google doc or whatever with every review that you've gotten that it was a positive review, that you want to have just easy access to pull. And make sure that you are sourcing them too, so you're not just having a a list of reviews that you can't remember where they came from. 

Matt:  Yeah, and if you don't have any good reviews yet, maybe you just launched, or you're selling direct and so you're not relying on you know a lot of the Amazon review tactics that people do - which I'll go ahead and say they're all fake and bot-driven anyway, so who cares? But if that's the case, either hopefully you've gotten some blurbs for your book before you published it, but if not, you can still get some review or testimonial content. And that's where it comes in handy that hopefully you've been attending some author events or things and you've established a few friendships or working relationships where you could send a copy of your book to somebody and ask for a review or a blurb and then use that. In some cases that's probably even better if it comes from another author. It might carry a little more weight with whoever you're pitching your book to. 

Lauren: Yeah, it might also be not specific to your book, which is okay. That's actually. It's okay to do that if you have, if you are, if your book is new. You don't have any reviews or testimonials yet, but you do have a testimonial from a client of yours saying ‘Lauren and Matt were able to help me so much when it came to publishing my book.’ It's okay if it's not about the book that we haven't written, you know. Instead, it's about just saying that they helped you. I would encourage you to look at other book covers and sometimes you'll see quotes on book covers on the front cover, back cover, wherever it is and you'll see the review and it'll say like ‘one of the best books I've read this year, 10 out of 10, no notes.’ And then you look at the source text under it and it'll say, Lauren, on another book written by this author.

Matt: Yeah, that's fair. 

Lauren: So there are ways to… I mean don't fake reviews, don't splice them together to make them say something they don't say. But if you are still in the early stages of promoting your book and you don't have a lot of reviews yet, but you have some relevant testimonials for you, for your brand, for your business that still speak to how you are able to provide value to people, you can use those. 

Matt:  Yeah, see, I would lean in that direction. If it's not obvious, I really don't think reviews are worth anything these days and I think, unfortunately, people put a lot of stock in trying to amass as many reviews as they can because they think it helps drive book sales or some other arbitrary behavior on the part of the consumer. But that's just not the case. So, having some very strategic testimonials or blurbs, especially if you can get them from other people in the industry or other authors, I would much rather lean in that direction and I just think that it's it's going to carry more weight over time, but everybody should do what they're most comfortable with and either path is probably good enough for trying to earn some media spots. 


[22:04

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. So what else can you do that you can pitch yourself for? 

Matt:  I would say some of these other opportunities would be getting interviewed in a periodical magazine, podcast, any of those types of things that would be towards the top of my list, I think. Landing yourself, a speaking session at a conference, an author event, book signings, you know, some of those things I think are way more important and beneficial to you as an author, as a creator. So I would start by going down the list of some of those things. Maybe book signings, because I think a lot of people just don't have a clue how to go about that, like, how do I get myself set up with a book signing? 

Lauren: I think that's a great question. I'm also going to take… maybe an unpopular opinion/stance on here and say that book signings are not valuable for earning exposure. Book signings are not something that's going to help you gain exposure, get new readers, new fans. They are great to do to celebrate your book. They're great to do to give you something to talk about on social media. They're great as a way for you to invite family and friends and fans that are local to you that you want to encourage them to get your new book. Or maybe you have some local peers, people in your community that you want to foster stronger connections with. This is a great opportunity to be like look at me, I'm having this big event. This is a great reason to reach out to local news outlets, but it is not necessarily going to earn you new readers. 

Matt: I'm going to disagree with you slightly.

Lauren: Okay.

Matt: Only because I think the last little bit of what you said is a bit counter to the first half of what you said. So I would disagree a little bit and say that if you can land some signing events at your local indie bookstore or library or wherever, there's a couple of things you can do with that book signing. The initial signing itself, or the act of doing a book signing, if it's in a bookstore, you probably make a little bit of money on it. If you're lucky. You've got a library, probably not, but maybe it just depends on how it's set up. But ultimately it is an opportunity to earn new readers if you parlay that properly. So again, if you're fortunate enough to land a book signing at a local bookstore, you take that information once it's confirmed and that is your foot in the door with local media outlets to say hey, local author just launched new book and has landed you know or will be signing at… Something like that a lot of local outlets love to talk about. In doing that, you've parlayed that book signing into a piece of earned media with a local news outlet or local media outlet, which could then actually net you some new potential readers who would show up, potentially, based on how that article was written. 

But then also the signing itself. A lot of us have been in a bookstore while a book signing was going on. I don't know how many actually stopped and paid attention to the author. I've done it on occasion and actually one or two times ended up buying a book from that author. So there is an opportunity to gain, you know, new readers out of those book signings and things. I don't know that that should be your goal because I don't know that it's going to net you a high amount of them. So in that instance I think you're right. I think the primary goal there is just the visibility amongst existing fans, but also to be able to take that event and parlay that into something you can reach out to local outlets and things for some earned media. 

Lauren: Yes. I will give you that. 

Matt: Thanks.

Lauren: You're welcome. That is where you're going to have the most value in a book signing.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: We definitely can talk about how to go about doing that, if you want? A little bit. 

Matt:  Well, I would. I would tell people, if for no other reason, so that you can save your kindred spirits at any bookstores all over the US a little bit of trouble. Maybe just give people a few quick pointers on how to try and get yourself a book signing. 

Lauren: Okay, I can definitely do that.

Matt: Quick. 

Lauren: I will. I will do my best to keep it short and sweet like we've been saying this whole episode. 

Matt: I'm going to start a stopwatch on my phone. 

Lauren: Alright, let's see how long it goes. First and foremost, do not try to do a book signing for a book that has already been out for more than six months. Realistically, actually, you should try to do a book signing the week that your book comes out. But if your book has been out for six months, twelve months, two years, there's absolutely no reason to do a book signing and I think you'll be hard pressed to find a single bookstore that would host you for a book signing for that book. 

You're also going to want to treat it like a party. That was always how we kind of pitched it when we were talking to authors. I used to be responsible for helping to sign up these author events. So, like this is where this is coming from, I used to do this for like a year. We would always tell the authors treat it like you're having a party. You know, if you're having your 40th birthday party at a local restaurant, the restaurant is going to ask you how many guests are attending? Like, get RSVPs, get a number. How many people are we anticipating? How many tables are going to have to set up? Who's going to be here? What time are we expecting people to be here? How many copies of your book are you going to need to order for this event, stuff like that. These are all details that you're going to want to figure out ahead of time, and you're going to have to figure out how to do that and how to provide the bookstore with that information. 

So the more of that information that you have leading into the book, signing and pitching it and saying ‘I'm a member of a garden club that has 50 members in it and most of them are the kind of people that would show up for this kind of event. I also have a lot of friends and family in the area. None of them have purchased my book elsewhere yet, so they're all going to be buying it from you directly.’ I had one, one book signing where the author was a professor at one of the local colleges and offered all of her students extra credit if they came to the book signing and she had like 100 people there. 

Matt: That's great 

Lauren: It worked.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: It worked, it was great, just like things like that. But you have to pitch those ahead of time. You have to include that in your pitch any reason that you have to be relevant to that bookstore. If you are a local author, if you're not a local author but you're still looking for a reason to go to that specific bookstore, what is that reason? Like, why do you wanna have an event at that bookstore? Book signings are time consuming, they often take up space that is pretty limited inside of a bookstore and they usually require having additional staff on hand to support them. So you have to make sure that you're giving a bookstore a reason to sacrifice those things. 

Matt: So incentivizing them is what I'm hearing. Making sure that they feel incentivized to host you, because you are gonna bring in estimated X amount of people, many of which who have not bought the book yet, so that they would potentially buy it from the bookstores as long as the bookstore stock them. Real quick you mentioned kind of make it like a party and that made me think about we had a few authors probably more than we know of, but at least a few that I know of that are on Lulu that as a result of the pandemic and everything shutting down in 2020, and then, you know, everything beyond. They were doing virtual book signings, hosting parties. 

Lauren: Sure.

Matt: From what I gather what they were doing, it sounds like this is still happening because it's a great way to scale a book party or a book launch party or a signing. They find some of their biggest fans around the US, and finding some that are willing to host a little book launch party at their home or somewhere locally, a library, whatever, and, you know, on a particular given day. Those are all happening at the same time. Everybody's conferenced in on video and so in each of these locations there's a little mini party going on for your book release where people have copies of the book or they can buy it. They're talking about it. You're all collectively together on this video conference and people have just done some really cool things around that. An author would send swag to each of those places, so everybody that was there got pens, stickers, I don't know a number of different things, honestly. But it seemed like a really cool way to kind of simulate a book signing party, but do it in a virtual way where you could scale it across multiple locations on a given date and everybody sort of participates that way. 

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. There's also… you can do that with or without the physical event locations too, if that's something that seems like a step over the edge for you in terms of how much you're capable of doing or how much you're willing to do. But one thing that you can do to spice it up, instead of having those physical locations, is include some other authors in the event. You know, have it be a joint event where it's three or four of you, all together in some related capacity, are all hosting and you're all inviting your fans. I know I've definitely participated in virtual events like that, and I've absolutely wound up buying books from other authors as a side effect of that. Because, you know, one author that I was interested in was part of this virtual event and I went - went, quote unquote - went to it to see that author and wound up getting interested in something that one of the other authors was pitching at the same time. You can also do that with physical events too. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: You can do that if you say, like, maybe I don't have the sway to bring enough people to my local bookstore, but I have another author friend who is willing to interview me, or will do a joint signing, or something like that, and then we're promoting both books and we're bringing in people from both of our fan bases. That might be more compelling

Matt: Well and along those lines. Not just bookstores, you mentioned just other places and keeping in mind you wanna be very intentional with your pitch. But libraries, for example, are a great place to launch or have some sort of event based on children's books, historical books, historical fiction, things like that. They love to host local authors for, you know, a book launch event. Or if you wrote a children's book, get your local library to let you have a little launch party there where locals can bring their kids. Any chance to throw a party-like event around your book that people will talk about. You know, there are other places: schools, rotary clubs, community centers, whatever. Just depending on the content of your book, some of those may be a little more fitting than others, but definitely branch out from bookstores for sure. So that was a good point you made. 

Lauren: Yeah, and it doesn't have to be a signing either, necessarily.

Matt: Sure, yeah. 

Lauren: If your local library says we don't wanna host a book signing here, but do you wanna read your book for a story time? We do a weekly story time for kids. Do you wanna read? Do you wanna come in and read your picture book.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: To kids for story hour? That's a great opportunity. Yeah, definitely, get creative, reach out to different places. There was a liquor store near my mom's house that did a book signing one time, because it was like a local author that had a cocktail recipe collection and instead of having it at the bookstore they had it at the liquor store and I was like cool, that's really cool. The store got to promote it, got to have a reason for people to come in on a Saturday that wasn't just picking up a bottle of vodka and then leaving. I think they wound up doing a tasting at the same time. So they partnered up with another opportunity there and I thought that was a really clever idea. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: You know, if you have other things that your book connects to. 


[32:42]
Lauren: I've recommended this webinar before. I'm gonna recommend it again. We hosted Stephanie Chandler from the Nonfiction Authors Association for an incredible webinar about public speaking. She talked about it much more articulately than I could, so if you want some ideas from her, I will link that video in the show notes. 

Matt:  Yeah, yeah. There's also, you know, the option for you to want to reach out and speak at different conferences and summits and things like that. That are a little more related to… they're not all gonna be business, nonfiction based, like. There's a lot of author conferences that happen, there's a lot that are genre specific, there's a lot that are genre agnostic. It doesn't matter. But, you know, reaching out and pitching yourself as a speaker, that type of pitch isn't necessarily or doesn't necessarily have to be based on the book that you just wrote per se. But having just written a book is gonna be your foot in the door. So you could have just written a book that is totally fiction-based. It could be young adult romance or, or something like that. But if this is an author conference, you may have something to offer in the way of, you know, doing a session on your trials and tribulations to get this book published through X means of getting it published. And so, again, you're not necessarily pitching your book, you're pitching yourself and why you would want to speak at this conference. So there are other ways to get yourself out there, to get yourself a little more exposure. Because, remember, if you are a writer or a creator, you are a brand and you have to think about yourself that way. But these options don't always necessarily mean you're pitching your book. And in many cases you're pitching yourself, the book is just a vehicle to get that foot in the door, and so some conferences have stricter guidelines than others. 

We have an event called Content Entrepreneur Expo and we put out a call for speakers and most events do. It'll be months in advance of the event. You'll see those call for speakers. Oftentimes the criteria will be in that to tell you like what they're looking for. But I can tell you from experience and going through and looking at all of those submissions that what's gonna get you noticed is A. are you a published author? Doesn't matter if it's traditional or self-published. Did you write a book on this particular topic or subject or have you written books? But more importantly, is the session that you're proposing you want to give specific to the audience of that event? So if you are pitching yourself again, let's say, at an author event that is genre agnostic, it's just an event to potentially help authors, then make sure that whatever session you're proposing you want to talk about is specific to that audience. It doesn't matter if your book is necessarily specific, but make sure that the session you want to talk about, the topic, is specific to them and give reasons why you'd be a great person to facilitate that session. 

Lauren: Yeah, get creative with your pitches and your ideas for this. One of the things that just came to mind from something that Matt said was the number of times that I've seen, at different types of conferences, at least one session from somebody that's talking about specifically how writing a book has helped them grow their brand and why you should do it too. And like, that is a genre agnostic topic, because, regardless of what kind of book you're writing, or what kind of business you have, the general topic of conversation here is that writing a book and publishing a book has helped me grow my brand, and here's how you can do that too. You can find ways to make yourself fit. Unless you can’t, and if the answer is that you can't find, like I said earlier, if you cannot find a reason that your book is relevant or anything that you have to say is relevant for this conference, then you shouldn't be pitching yourself to this conference. 


[36:13]

Matt: That's right. Yeah, definitely. Along the lines of speaking at conferences or events or things like that, some of the other things you might get lucky enough to find yourself doing are guest appearances or collaborations with other creators and authors. Talk a little bit about how one might go about this. 

Lauren: We've definitely talked about this in the past, about how important it is to, like, create these author networks and to connect with other creators. The advice for this is gonna be pretty similar to a lot of other advice that we've given, which is gonna start with: do your research, look for creators and audiences that fit your brand and content. It's not gonna be super successful or valuable to anybody if you are reaching out to a completely unrelated audience. Remember that with collaborations and guest appearances, we're talking about things that are unpaid. So this is not ‘I'm paying for a sponsorship’ or ‘I'm paying somebody to promote my book for me,’ but rather you are genuinely looking for a mutual collaborative experience or a guest appearance. Maybe you're gonna trade guest appearances. You'll write a blog post and they'll write a blog post and you'll put them on each other's blogs. So in that case, like, you need to be sure that you're providing equal value to the person that you're trying to collaborate with. If your content and your brand isn't a good fit for their audience and vice versa, then it's not gonna be worth either of your time to do this kind of collaboration. So do your research, look for people that are a good fit for your brand. 

One way you can do that is to look to your audience. The people that are following you, who else are they following, who else are they engaging with? Who are some of their favorite creators, authors, people that they are also signed up for their newsletters or reading their blog, that's where you wanna look for potential new collaborators. And then also, like I said with pitching yourself for earned media, make sure that you're looking into any guidelines set by these potential collaborators and that you're not crossing lines that you shouldn't be crossing by reaching out to them to connect and suggest doing some kind of collaboration. 

Matt:  Yeah, don't pitch yourself as a romance writer to the Monster Truck Club of America. 

Lauren: Okay, but why is my brain just like immediately running away now with like a rom-com based on that? 

Matt:  Cause I know you and I knew you would. 

Lauren: I have to go home and write a book. I'll be back in a week. 

Matt: A week wow, all right. 

Lauren: Well, yeah, I'll be bored. 

Matt: Oh.

Lauren: I'll be bored of it. By the end of the week, I won't be finished with it.

Matt: I totally thought you'd be done writing a book that was a crossover of romance and monster trucking, but - 

Lauren: No, no, definitely not in a week.

Matt: Alright.

Lauren: Not even in a month. I've never successfully completed a NaNoWriMo. 

Matt:  We should feed that idea into Matt GPT and see what happens. 

Lauren: Oh my gosh, I'll get right on that. 

Matt:  I'll tell you what'll happen. Nothing You'll break Matt GPT.

Lauren: Fair enough. It’s worth a shot. 


[39:02]
Lauren: Once you've kind of put together a list of potential people to collaborate with. There are different kinds of collaborations that could be valuable to you, so do you want to talk a little bit about those and just different types of collaborative opportunities? 

Matt: Yeah, yeah, I think a lot of it's gonna start with social media, right, cause that's where most of us start building our audiences is on social media. So social collaborations are fairly easy if you've already been working at building your social presence and making the best of networking opportunities and things like that. So social collaborations would mean content exchanges, guest appearances. If you've got a friend or somebody in your network that does a YouTube show, there's opportunities there. Content exchange, collaborative posts on, on Instagram, or whatever your channel of choice might be, your blogs, stuff like that. Giveaways are always a good one and fairly easy. You, as a creator or author, could invest in something and then do a giveaway for it, or partner with another creator or somebody who has a pretty decent following as well, and you guys can do a joint giveaway and thereby attracting new users to each of your platforms from the other’s platform. 

Content collaborations again kind of just talked about that, again, using the content as the vehicle for collaborating. So guest blog posts, guesting on podcasts, things like that. Even newsletters, though newsletters right now are the big thing, and so most people either have or are working on a newsletter for their audience, because, even though we build audience on social media, your goal is to get them over to your newsletter list, right? Hopefully everybody's not in their head, yes. And so newsletter swaps are big right now. So again, if you're working with a network that you're building and you've got somebody in that network that has a newsletter following similar to yours in size, they very well could be interested in doing a swap with you whereby in their newsletter they highlight your new book and talk, give you a little spotlight there and in your newsletter maybe you give a little shout out to them and what they do as a creator and help drive some newsletter signups for them. So that's an easy one and it's very popular these days as well. 

Lauren: Yeah, and a lot of these outlets that are so beneficial to have these different types of collaborations on them. They also know how important these collaborations are.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: So, like I mean even as broad as, like Instagram has added the collaboration feature on posts, where you can have a post that is two, I think, maybe even more than two users, and it gets posted on both of their feeds. So you might not be following… like I might just be following Disney on Instagram, and then Disney and Marvel will post a collaborative post announcing whatever the new movie is, and I will see it on my feed, even if I'm not following Marvel. 

Matt:  Deadpool & Wolverine.

Lauren: Yes, that's exactly, yes, uh-huh. There's tools like that, on TikTok, there are like stitches and duets. On YouTube, you can do live videos where you're both streaming live in different places, or even Twitch. Webinars are another great opportunity, and webinars are designed to be hosted in different places, like it's okay if you're working with somebody who's in a completely different place. As long as you both have internet access, you'll be okay. These are very much like geared towards fostering collaborative efforts, and they're definitely designed to help you with that. So take advantage of those opportunities and see how you can get collaborative and get connected with other creators. 

Matt:  Yeah, by that same token, make sure you're really thinking about what it is you're exchanging. You know what's again, what's the pitch, what's the offer. If you're hoping that - from your side of things - that you're going to gain more purchasers of your book or more readers or whatever that is, make sure you understand what it is you're hoping to gain, but also what you can offer somebody else. Because it's likely that whoever you're trying to collaborate with did not just launch a book, so their goal is gonna be different. They may want more blog followers or whatever. So make sure that you understand what could be valuable in that situation so that when you're exchanging content or proposing that content exchange or that collaboration, everybody's very aware of what the end goal is for each of the parties involved and that you both work the best that you can to achieve those goals for each other. 

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. I think we see that a lot with giveaways, I think are really good, like kind of succinct example of that. When you'll be on Instagram and you'll see somebody doing a giveaway and it'll be, you know, ‘we're giving away five copies of my latest book. I'm so excited about it. I'm partnering with this other person to sponsor this giveaway. They're gonna provide the books for us and in exchange I'm gonna tell everybody that a part of the like entry process for this giveaway is that you have to be following both of our accounts.’

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: So now the person that you're collaborating with is gaining followers and you're getting exposure for your book by giving away copies of it. 

Matt: Yep.

Lauren: Great opportunities. Get creative with that. And, you know, don't be afraid to, you know, reach out to some people that might seem like above your level. You wanna have something to provide value to them. You know, you can't be reaching out like, I have five Instagram followers and I'm gonna reach out to somebody with three million Instagram followers and see if they wanna collaborate. Like that might not work out so well for you, but it's okay to try. As long as you are authentic about it, you know, we've talked about the importance of authenticity. Also, don't be creepy about it. We've talked about that too, especially for social media partnerships. Don't be weird about it. 

Matt:  Yeah, no, that's a great point. I think that oftentimes we probably get locked into this idea that, oh, I've only got 500 Instagram followers and this person has 5,000. That person very well could be happy to gain 10 highly qualified followers from you. That will turn into revenue for them to add to that 5,000. Because of their 5,000, they may only have 500 that are engaging with their content. I think that's a good point you make. Don't get too mired down in the idea that I've got to find people that have pretty much the exact same number of followers as I do, or number of subscribers to their newsletter as I do. Or maybe you don't have a newsletter yet, but they do, like you might have a blog, though that gets a pretty good engagement rate. So the content exchange could be, you know, you'll post something on your blog about them in exchange for them putting you in their newsletter. It doesn't always have to be a one for one, like for like type of scenario. So but yeah, don't get in your own head about numbers. Now, again, common sense should prevail. Like you said, don't reach out to somebody with 3.5 million followers and you've got 500, and you know they're probably not even remotely related but common sense always wins out there. 

Lauren: Yeah. Matt actually said something before we started recording

Matt: Oh god.

Lauren: That I thought was no, it was good. It was a good thing, but it was no. It was when you were talking about, how you know, we've talked about the 1000 true fans theory and the idea that it's more valuable to have engaged fans like a fewer number of engaged fans than it is to have like a massive number of disengaged fans, and you were making the point that, like you know, even if your email newsletter list only has 500 people on it, if you have a 75% open rate, that is probably more valuable than somebody that you're reaching out to that has 5000 email subscribers and a 10% open rate. 

Matt: Yeah

Lauren: So, just because you can't visibly see the engagement value that you can bring to the table when you're connecting with other people, it's worth considering, for sure. And if you do have quality metrics like that, make sure that you're including them in your pitch, especially if you're trying to collaborate with somebody. Like if you can say you know, I have this many engaged followers - which are all metrics that you can get from your different types of platforms that you're looking at, whether it's social email, whatever it is. If you have some really impressive statistics that you can share, as, like, this is the value add that I can bring to this collaboration. Make sure you are including those. 

Matt:  Perfect, yeah. Well, that was fun. 

Lauren: It was fun. I like talking about marketing. We've been doing it for a while now.

Matt: I like talking about marketing. I'm not. PR is always one of those things where it's like I mean, there's aspects of it that I enjoy and there's aspects of it that I'm a little intimidated by, but. 

Lauren: I mean, I lasted about nine months as a publicist, so same.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Clearly. It scarred me so badly that I left the entire state of New York. 

Matt: Oh gosh.

Lauren: It was the last job I had before I moved down here. 

Matt:  Now the truth comes out, yeah. Well, hopefully people found some value in that, but if they didn't, luckily we still don't have an email address set up for this podcast yet, so.

Lauren: Matt has just figured out why I've been procrastinating on getting it set up. 

Matt: Yeah, yep. 

Lauren: Yeah, no, we will actually get that set up soon, so hopefully pretty soon. If people have questions, want to learn more about a particular topic that we've talked about, want to see if we can elaborate on something that we touched on briefly in an episode, or just want to say hi, we'll get that set up. But in the meantime you can always leave some comments on Lulu social media posts about the podcast. We try to make sure that we get it shared up on every different social platform. So, you know, come say hi to us on there. And until then, we'll be back next week with more marketing stuff.