We often equate book publicity with planting a seed. You have a written a novel (or self-help manual or cookbook or memoir). You have published it (either through a major publishing house, a small press, self-publishing, or e-book). It is ready to go out into the work or it's already out there on shelves or online.
Now you're ready for people to start talking about it!
So where are all the reviews, interviews and coverage?
According to Bowker, three million books were published in 2011. Consider the staggering fact that 248,000 books were published in 2003 and the figures continued to double every year after that. Bowker estimates, as reported by Seth Godin, that the figure will grow to 15 million in 2012! That's a lot of competition.
So how do you get your book noticed?
Slowly and with great determination, patience and effort. There is no other way around it. If you want your book to be read and reviewed, you have to reach far and wide in the media landscape. You have to be prepared to send out many review copies, and you have to wait. Following-up with the media outlets is essential, but you can't force people to read and react to your work. You have to change your approach, think of different angles and find ways to make your story newsworthy. You have to think like a journalist and constantly scan the news for appropriate angles or areas where you can offer expertise.
The more coverage you can accumulate, the more news-worthy you will be to other media outlets. You are building "buzz." You are building a brand. But it does take time. There is an old joke said by actors that it takes decades of hard work and dedication to become an overnight success. The same can be said for authors. The most successful publicity campaigns last for years, not months. Don't expect to get readers and fans right out of the gate. Many times we read about instant successes and yes, they do happen. But people also win the lottery. If you want to be realistic about the process, you have to be prepared to do the work. You are building an audience slowly. Most "break out" authors have been working at this tirelessly for a very long time.
Publicity is like planting a seed. You have to nurture it, give it plenty of time and attention and it will grow.
This post also appears on Kelley & Hall