Let’s Talk About… Publicity!

So I’ve reached the part of my job that I absolutely love – that time just before my book is published, when I’m assigned a publicist and I get to talk to the press about my work.

Because I have two books coming out very close together, I am now under the care of three publicists: One in the UK for The Battered Body, and two (UK and USA) for The Girl. I consider myself to be very lucky in that regard, especially since all three women are determined to do their very best to get both books known to the press and public alike. For instance, yesterday my UK publicist sent out press releases for The Girl, and within hours I’d been booked onto a radio show and asked to write an article.  I was obviously ecstatic and can’t wait to hear more. (By the way, any press that I do will be reported here and also logged on my Media page, so keep checking back).

There is a great deal of discussion between authors as to whether or not they enjoy this part of their job, but the truth is, if you want your book to sell, it needs to be done! I remember when Marilyn’s Addresses was published, way back in 1995. I had spoken about Marilyn on the radio just a few times, and now I had a whole day of doing one radio appearance after another. I remember Richard and I travelled down to London with a time table and a map and we had to find our way from one place to another, in order to talk to each show. I was very inexperienced and the thought of speaking live on air filled me with absolute horror. I could hardly breathe and actually felt like I might throw up. I remember my first call was to the Simon Bates breakfast show and the producer literally had to drag me into the studio! Once there I could hardly get any words out at all, to the point where Simon had to beg me not to be so frightened!

The funny thing was, that day may have started out as my worst nightmare, but it actually completely changed me, because after speaking to twenty-plus radio shows one after the other, suddenly it wasn’t so new anymore all my fears evaporated. Facing my fears was a positive thing and since then I’ve always been happy to take part in any show my publicist can book me on.

However… Here’s a little bit of advice from me to you… Even if you have the best publicist in the world, YOU still need to do your fair share of work too. If your publicist asks if you’d like to go on a radio or television show, consider yourself honoured and for goodness sake, do it. It may scare the pants off you, but you’ll feel so good when it’s done (and your book sales will be healthier, too!). Also, you should know that it isn’t fair or realistic to assume that your publicist will do all of the work, while you do nothing except wait for her call.

No matter how hard you may find it, as an author you still have to put yourself – and your book – out there. I don’t mean you should go knocking on Oprah’s door, begging for an interview, but there are other things you can do to bring attention to your work. In today’s society of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you can of course share news, photos and other snippets, run competitions and encourage interaction. The more interaction you get, the more followers you gain and the more people get to know about your book. You can also blog, write for other people’s blogs, do book signings (more about that during another blog) and talk to local groups. Keep your publicist informed of what you are doing, and they’ll be able to provide you with any publicity materials you need, and they’ll also share your activities on their own blogs and social media.

In short, while it is often scary to think about getting away from your desk and talking to the media, taking part in publicity is such an important part of a writer’s job and you really shouldn’t ignore it. After all, you worked hard on your book; you laughed, cried, and maybe even fell down exhausted every night, so you owe it to yourself to let people know of its existence. Otherwise, what was the point of writing it?

Until next time,

Michelle x

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