Planning a DIY PR Tour

As a speaker or an author on the way to publishing your next book, the time to plan your public relations (or PR) strategy is upon you. You’ll hear literary agents and publishers talking about your “platform.” This article gets down to the essentials of getting your platform built.

Authors have two essential choices to generate buzz from coast to coast on an affordable budget: 1) Hire a PR firm to do the work for you, which can get pricey, or 2) Plan and run your own PR campaign. Today, let’s focus on the later using DIY steps to build the platform for your book launch

The game plan for a book launch sets the stage for the payoff in book sales and reputation. As an author, you’ve made a monumental investment of time, heart and soul into your manuscript.

Realistically, it takes about three to six months to build excitement and demand in the marketplace for your book. First comes the need to create interest, tension and excitement centered around your book’s core message.

Where many book launches have enjoyed multi-million dollar budgets, not many authors have these kinds of resources to launch their book. You’d be surprised at how accessible the strategy is for typical authors, if you follow the same steps as the big budget pros in this business.

Getting Madison Avenue Results on a Main Street Budget

Two of my favorite PR recommendations have no cost associated with them at all. These favored do-it-yourself PR tactics are Blog Tours and Podcasting. These methods are so powerful, that PR firms use them consistently with exceptional results. Many authors find these PR strategies accessible to the average person and choose to do the work themselves.

Podcast Tour:

Podcasting is on the rise with well over 57 million active listeners in 2016. 21% of Americans have listened to a podcast episode recently (to compare, 21% of Americans are on Twitter and 13% use Spotify). It can be an effective tool for attracting attention to your book. With a podcast, people all over the world can access the ideas you talk about and create a more personal relationship with you.

I’ve seen authors build up a massive following using podcasts that highlight excerpts of their books or existing audio recordings. There’s something enticing about a book either read by the author, a discussion around your topic or an excerpt from a keynote speech. No one else can offer such shades of nuance.

It’s possible to get thousands of faithful fans this way, fans who will become aware of your book. These fans are quite valuable because not only will they buy your book but they may become loyal customers who purchase your audio series, coaching or consulting services.

The powerhouse of podcast traffic is Apple’s iTunes. However, there are other venues available to host your podcasts such as Stitcher and other podcatcher sites offering a dedicated following with little investment from you except your time.

It may take a little while to build up your following, but once you do, you will be amazed at the response.

Also, another effective podcast strategy is to set up your own podcast show. Here is a podcast episode called Book Publishing Success which is dedicated to ushering new users into setting up their own podcast to promote their book or speaking business.

Blog Promotion:

Doing a Blog Tour is a cost effective way to get exposure for your ideas. In aggregate, Bloggers have a huge center of influence. Getting your ideas and articles into these centers of influence can be a highly credible method for getting book exposure. Here are several practical methods for getting started:

Book Reviews: Getting your book reviewed on popular blogs is an effective way to get attention for your book from large centers of influence. Book Review blogs especially offer a rich gathering of dedicated readers, hungry for the next book launch. Submitting your book to a review site is a great way to build momentum and get readers—and the search engines—to take notice.

Guest Blogger: Consider offering to submit a daily/weekly/monthly article to bloggers who are active in your niche. I recommend authors keep an inventory of articles related to their book, in order to capitalize on this exposure.

There are massive numbers of blogs that accept review requests. Finding them can be a time-consuming process, so this is one task you may want to assign to a Virtual Assistant.

Whether you’re flying solo or have an assistant, the process is the same. Start by researching relevant blogs to your topic. My method is to identify the top 100 bloggers within special interest groups. Once you have built your list, you will start contacting the administrators of the blog to inquire about Book Reviews or becoming a guest author on the blog.

One final note—you’ll want to check the popularity of a blog by looking up the Alexa rank of the blog. The lower the ranking of the website, the more people are visiting that website (a low Alexa rank is a good thing).

In summary, to make the most of these methods, consider the following tips for content development:

  • Create an inventory of articles that you can multi-purpose. Having an inventory of story ideas and topics can come in handy when you distribute your articles.
  • Research high traffic bloggers who relate to your topic. Ask them to become a guest author for you. Alternatively, you can arrange to become a guest on their blog.
  • Use your articles as scripts in a podcast show. The most popular podcast length is about 15 to 30 minutes, and your text equates to about 10,000 words per hour.
  • Many podcast shows are eager for guests. Research shows related to your topic and ask to be a guest on their show.

Where will your next book launch take you? With the potent combo of podcasting and blogs, you are well on your way to a successful book launch!

Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.