Ask Winston

I am at your service
Any pup worth his liversnaps knows that the first task of writing is creating the most polished piece possible. BUT in addition to sit, stay and write, an author needs some tricks to be able to dig up attention for a book once it’s out.

A reader recently wrote to the Two Legged Writer to ask:

When you have a new book coming out, when is the best time to begin promotions? And is it worth beginning deeper levels of promotion after a book has been out for a few months already?
Of course, Two Legged is the wrong person to pose such questions to. Thankfully, she’s got some new buddies, Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy of Blue Slip Media, who are pros at promotion. Prior to launching their company, they were the A Team of publicists, shining the spotlight on Harcourt books. Here’s what they say about themselves:
At Blue Slip Media, we specialize in publicity and marketing services for the trade children’s book industry. In a business climate where publicity and marketing resources at major publishing houses are stretched thin, we offer expertise in crafting effective press releases, targeted mailing lists, niche and local market outreach, and event planning to create comprehensive campaigns for print and online media. With over 20 years experience (each!) in the industry, we know the market well and enjoy working in tandem with authors, artists, and publishers to maximize a book’s reach.
Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy, Blue Slip Media
Here’s what Barbara and Sarah had to say about this writer’s questions:
The best time to start thinking about a campaign is 4-6 months prior to publication. When you first see f&g’s is a good trigger. Our usual process is to contact the publisher’s publicity department and see when their plans for that book’s season will be in place (usually 4-5 months prior to pub). Once they have their general plan for the book organized, we can see if there are areas they don’t have the time/personnel to pursue and then we can create a proposal for the author based on that. It’s good to get the jump start — the publisher is usually going to handle long lead magazines but sometimes if there’s a particular niche (like dog publications!) that they can’t do, it’s nice for us to be able to contact those magazines 4-5 months out to hopefully get a review around the pub date. 
Online (blog tours, etc) and shorter lead time (daily newspapers) campaigns are usually started closer to 2 months before pub, but it’s still better to get in touch 4-6 months out just for the best planning purposes. If there’s a strong educational component to the book, we’ll often do a curriculum guide for the book (we have a PhD consultant we use to write the classroom activities) and have it live on the author’s website. Then we’ll do a campaign to teacher magazines and e-newsletters to get them to mention the book and run the listing of the author’s website to drive folks there to download the free guide. Those types of campaigns don’t necessarily have to be timed to the newness of a book — if there’s a holiday connection, like Arbor Day for example, we can pitch the book for spring coverage even if it was a fall title the previous year.
To answer your question about whether or not it’s worth beginning deeper promotion efforts once a book has been out two months already, I’d say generally the answer would be no, it’s not worth it. There are always exceptions, of course! If there’s a strong niche component to the book that wasn’t pursued originally, it can be worth the time and effort to go to that group of reviewers. Libraries tend to be a later buy, so if the book is good for that market, it might be worth a postcard campaign to targeted cities or states that could include good reviews on the card from SLJ, Kirkus, etc. And the curriculum campaign I mentioned earlier can also be done when a book is past launch if there’s a good fit with that market.
If you’ve got a question about a particular book, we’re happy to take a look at it — this info above is all sort of general!

Thanks, Barbara and Sarah. Of course, dogs don’t need publicists, especially wonder dogs like me. But I know the Two Legged Writer had big smiles on her face the whole time she was working with you two on that campaign for Two Bobbies. She gives your team four paws’ up!

No Responses to “Ask Winston”