Self-publishing: The Dawn of a New Era in Publishing
We have a special guest today! Charlie Barrett, Hollywood publicist to the stars, book publicist and owner of The Barrett Company, is here with us today to talk about self-publishing. Visit Charlie’s website at www.thebarrettco.com.
Self-publishing: The Dawn of a New Era in Publishing
by Charlie Barrett
We have placed numerous self-published best seller authors as guests – experts on top TV, radio, newspapers and magazines these many past years at The Barrett Company Communications (www.thebarrettco.com). The growth of self-published authors in the USA is record breaking. It’s estimated that more than 60% of all books now being published in the USA are coming from self-published authors. This growth is expected to continue, publishing media reports point out. I wonder will there be enough media outlets to “spread the word” on these many, many new books, especially when print media is being hit hard now with change, shrinking ad revenues, etc.? There is a new model coming in cyber space where the media is growing and I believe this area will continue to develop, offering new opportunities for all authors, be they self-published or from traditional publishing houses and small presses. You can always count on change.
Many, many self-published authors contact us, ones who have written fiction and non-fiction in all areas from general novelists to ones who have penned books on celebrities, politics, business, travel, self-help, health, sports and gardening. We have successfully helped a myriad of self-published authors get attention in every major media outlet from USA Today to TV shows like Larry King on CNN and The Today Show. And we are now working on placing some with Oprah Winfrey’s new TV channel on cable television called OWN with Discovery Networks. A well-written self-published book can get a lot of media attention providing it’s on a select topic and it is well edited with no typos, which is all too often a big problem. This is exactly why many book reviewers in the mainstream media will oftentimes dismiss self-published books. It seems a good number of SP writers have actually ruined their opportunities due to sloppy work and poor distribution. But, for the many professional and diligent SP authors who invest a lot of their time and money in making their works a success, this route can definitely be worthwhile.
Savvy authors who decide to self publish realize upfront they need the help of a PR pro, but oftentimes wait until it’s too late since their window of opportunity passes with the media. One cannot begin publicity too early. Some self-published authors try to do their own publicity by purchasing DIY programs of some kind, only to find they simply do not have the experience, skills and media contacts to make it a success, and, in the meantime, waste their money and time. When the media is contacted by a publicist they respond, even if they are not interested in a book. It’s simply about relationships and contacts many publicists have with wide-ranging book medias. In one rare case I can think of a self-published author who, while standing there — actually got his book on terrorism to take off because it was written and came out quite ironically the week of 9-11-2001.
Getting a book review for a self published author is very doable. However, these authors must be aware that many self-published works can be very, very challenging (but not impossible) with some of the major book review outlets including the top New York newspapers. We have been successful in getting self-published books reviewed in USA TODAY, which has some 4 to 5 million daily readers. To be blunt…many of these top flight book reviewers feel many self-published books are written poorly, have numerous typos and little or no distribution except sales off a web site. One of the services we can offer our SP authors is to find a suitable book distributor if they want one. This was the case with surgeon Dr. Harry J. Saranchak and his “Betrayals of Hippocrates” which we were able to place with Atlas/Book Masters for distribution.
There are a great many self-published books that are well written. However, even with book distribution, many major media outlets refuse to recognize these self-published works, which is unfortunate for the author and the outlets because they miss out on great opportunities again and again.
There can be roadblocks to overcome in promoting self-published works. My firm represents authors from a myriad of genres – – from poetry and fiction to celebrity biographies and sports – – and each poses their own specific challenge. For instance, a book with limited, very specific appeal can hamper the PR efforts because the book is only of interest maybe to a select small group. However, a book with national reach has a much stronger chance of getting more media attention since there are a far greater number of media outlets across the board from print to electronic to cyber space that would be interested. In other words, it can simply depend on how many people will be impacted by the book.
Some self-published authors come to publicizing their book with little or very limited knowledge of how the media will view them and evaluate their work. We work to explain all of this in a free consultation on the phone and if we feel we can help an SP author, we give them a written plan outlining what we can do and a list of prices for our package or ala carte suite of services. We pride ourselves on fair pricing.
Also almost every book written has a “local news angle” based upon where the author resides. We just assisted SP Mississippi author Andy Anderson, the well-known Rockabilly 1950s artist with Elvis Presley who penned his autobiography “Memoirs of the Original Rolling Stone.” We got him local newspaper, radio and TV appearances before rolling out our national campaign. If you can’t get local media attention for an author in their own home town that signals perhaps a real problem to come. However, I have seen it this work in reverse…since sometimes it takes national media exposure to get the attention of some local media outlets in towns and cities in the USA.
I once worked with a SP author who was severely handicapped with his speech and mobility (he was in a wheel chair). He was quite wealthy and had his own private jet. His book was about creating world peace and he had come to the USA from the Middle East years before. What resonated so well with the CNN and Fox News interviews we got for him was that he overcame such strong physical obstacles to create his book and to get himself to the media interviewers in-person if he could, shunning any phone interviews.
Many SP authors when they come to us definitely need media training before doing any interviews. We provide our new author clients with a list of “The 25 Most Likely Questions You will be Asked” (individually tailored to their books) and run them through mock interviews before putting them with the literary press, radio hosts and online bloggers, TV, etc.
Self-publishing is growing at a fast pace and it is here to stay I believe. Amazon and others have opened up incredible electronic publishing and exposure opportunities for authors like I have never seen before in my years as a book publicist. It is an exciting time to be an SP author and be in control of your literary creation as we are in the dawn of a new era in the field and the possibilities are endless. It is the stuff dreams are made of.