5 publishing promotional tools: how to turn a book into a bestseller?

Here we share with you the views of experts and practitioners about the most effective PR tools in the publishing field*.

A jack-of-all-trades
As a rule, a special person is responsible for PR at publishing houses and the choice of that person is in no way accidental. The literary PR person must possess a number of traits necessary for qualitative
and efficient work: to love and understand people, to know how to communicate with them, to engage in dialogue; to love books and reading, to convey his or her message to a wide audience; to meet with readers in different corners of the country and get feedback. Finally, create content, written (text) and visual, that is interesting and accessible. All of this helps the PR person to choose the right strategy for each project.

They first come up with a particular idea or “legend” that promotes the book and that is born in close communication with the author. The PR person then determines the timing and means of advertising (mass media, SMM, direct marketing) depending on the book. Marketing and PR is allotted around 20% of the budget and they analyse which of these strategies and communication means are the most effective. Thus, today it is very effective to promote a book via online marketing, free giveaways on social media that gather a large audience. To that end, not only the traditional social media like Facebook and VKontakte can be used, but also Twitter, Instagram and Odnoklassniki.

The most effective tool to introduce a product and increase its sales is presentation. It provides the reader with direct contact with the author and provides up-to-date statistics (it is clear how many people came and bought the book). But here it is important to think everything through: the date and time (so that there are no big events taking place at the same time), location (bookshop or a new creative space that would expand the audience). The figure of the author plays a big role too: it the author who knows how to communicate with the audience, is enthusiastic about meeting people, accepts being photographed and who contributes most to promoting a book. Work with the author starts as early as submitting the manuscript – the contract prescribes his active functions in the promotion of the book (tours, presentations, etc.).

PR and media
The close communication between the PR person and journalists is equally important. The right conditions for work need to be created for them: provide them with quality and interesting information, no hesitation in offering them books to review. It is useful if the PR person has experience of working in the press, it helps to create a database of contacts (media list) and update it frequently. Becoming friends with journalists is easy: there are no more than a dozen literary sites in Ukraine, plus 10 to 15 that provide literary news on a permanent basis. Overall, publications offering this content are few, that is why PR involves a wide range of media, including websites and glossy magazines. SMM is also quite effective as it is a modern and effective method of sales and advertising.

Book fairs
Participation in big literary events is very important for promotion. PR persons prepare actively for these events: think through the design of the stand, announce new releases, and develop an interesting programme that would attract the attention of readers. It is serious teamwork. A large target audience comes together at book forums as well as TV – for book publishers it is almost their only chance to get on TV or news as simply as that.

*Based on materials from the second edition of the “The Promotion of Literature in Ukraine” Congress (20-22 February 2016, Kyiv)

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