by H Khatun
When you think about PR, you may have the following opinions:
- It’s too expensive.
- It’s the reserve of traditionally published authors.
- It’s more relevant to non-fiction authors.
- It’s too time-consuming to do it yourself.
- It’s not worth the effort.
And perhaps the most common…
- No journalist would be interested in my books.
I am here to debunk all these misconceptions. How can I be so sure? Well, as a former broadcast journalist turned PR consultant and author, I am living, breathing proof that you can get amazing, money-can’t-buy publicity for your indie publishing business. And what’s more, you don’t need to spend big on a PR agency: you can do it yourself.
Why you should be PRing your books
There are multiple benefits to be gained from generating media coverage for your books. Below are just a few:
- It’s a great endorsement that boosts your credibility as an author.
- It levels you up with the traditionally published authors who use media publicity as part of their marketing strategy.
- It can help boost your visibility online, as being featured in online publication results in either a link back or a name check.
- It provides great engaging content, as you can share the media coverage on your website and social media.
Fun fact: I wrote a 60,000 word children’s book at the age of 12 and sent it to all the major publishing houses. It was politely declined by all of them.
I then studied broadcast journalism and worked on TV and radio, going into public relations, or PR. The latter enabled me to do much more writing, as I was drafting press releases for clients every day.
I still consult to this day, but here is the exciting bit… after the birth of my children, I took a step back, which gave me the opportunity to revisit my earlier passion of publishing a novel. This time it was adult fiction, what I call the brown Bridget Jones, The Secret Diary of an Arranged Marriage.
I wanted to make sure that my book was rivalling those from traditionally published authors, especially the ones with access to more media coverage. Having spent over a decade producing PR content for corporates and business owners, I wanted to get some of that sweet publicity for myself.
My book has since been featured in national publications such as Metro and Good Housekeeping, and was the subject of a debate on BBC Radio. Beyond that, I scored many hits in regional and local publications, such as the Manchester Evening News.
That was when I had my moment. Many indie authors can’t afford to hire a PR agent, and so were missing out on invaluable publicity. However, if they could do it themselves, without it being a huge time commitment, the benefits would be immeasurable.
I wrote my book, Priceless Publicity, for those authors that want to see their story in the paper. The ones that want to have a great ‘as featured in’ section on their website. The ones that want to self-publish like a trad author or publishing house. The ones that want to boost their sales.
And, to prove that PR is not as difficult or hard to reach as it may seem, here are my top tips to get you started:
Think about your book as a product – It sometimes feels like new mobile phones are coming out every other month, but that doesn’t stop the big brands from bringing out new models regardless and getting bags of PR coverage for it. Launching your book is like a product launch. And a new launch is a story that the media would be interested in.
Read the publications you want to be featured in – Scour your local newspapers and magazines and see if they have a section on books. See if they feature stories about books, or authors. If they do, there might be a place for you. Reach out to the relevant members of the masthead and see what they might be able to offer you.
Try your local media – Your local newspaper or radio station will be a great source of PR coverage for you. They want to know about a local people with local success stories. They want to celebrate success in the area. Tell them about your latest book, or your award win, or your localised take on Game of Thrones. Okay, that might be a stretch, but you get the picture!
Think about the story behind the story – Media outlets love human interest stories. What was your motivation for the book? Do you have an unusual writing method? I wrote the first draft of The Secret Diary of an Arranged Marriage on my iPhone notes app while nursing my daughter (no seafront office for me!). This made for a great story, as it was motivating to other parents who are trying to juggle a career while also caring for their children; plus, it showed a success story against the odds. I got tons of media coverage off the back of it.
Consider your author career as a business – This is more about mindset. Just as you would generate publicity for a shop or a bakery, the same should apply to your book business. Priceless Publicity is a book for all business owners, with indie authors remaining front and centre. The learnings are universal, yet the examples are specific. The idea is that if you can learn how to do PR, you will be able to apply the skills to any sector, which includes your author business.
Don’t forget new media – Blog posts, podcasts, social media… the opportunities are endless thanks to all these other media outlets. I did a Facebook live with a group that was 100k+ strong, and many members made up my target audience, which resulted in lots of sales.
These are just some things to think about when generating publicity for your business, but there are a whole host of other examples with specific guidance, done for you templates, and in-depth advice in Priceless Publicity.
However, most important of all, I hope you realize your books are worthy of great media coverage. And, as always, happy writing!
H Khatun is a former broadcast journalist turned PR consultant and author. With over a decade of industry experience working for the biggest PR agency group in Europe and the UK’s leading corporates, she is well placed to teach all aspects of PR and storytelling.
Khatun started creating PR courses to teach small businesses and start-ups to do their own PR on a budget. She has made it her mission to make PR accessible, not just the reserve of big brands with the big budgets.
As a passionate DIY PR advocate, she has been featured in the Huffington Post, Metro, Business Advice and StartupNation, as well as the London media.
Khatun also writes women’s fiction. Her award-winning debut novel The Secret Diary of an Arranged Marriage has received widespread media coverage and was featured on the BBC, Good Housekeeping and more.