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8 tips for talking about your book

In Part 1 of this two-part series, maverick parenting author Heather Shumaker shared some of her lessons from five months promoting her book, It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids. Today, Heather tells us more about how to promote our books by talking about them – to the media, to groups, to anyone who will listen. Learn more about this advocate for free play and conflict mediation skills for kids on her website and Starlighting Mama blog.

8 tips for talking about your book

By Heather Shumaker

You’re a writer. That’s why you loved writing your book. But once it’s published you’ll dive into your book’s story orally. If the thought of speaking into a microphone makes you freeze, then practice, practice, practice.

Here are eight tips to get you going.

  1. Speak your book. We’re familiar with the statement “Write your book.” Now it’s time to “Speak your book.” Talking about your book is fun! You’ll discover you’re not just a writer, but also a speaker. People love to hear about your subject matter and the process of writing about it. Relax and remember you’re an expert at both.
  2. Focus on libraries, not bookstores. By all means, give a book party or signing at your local independent bookstore, but don’t focus on bookstore signings for your in-person promotion. Create events instead. Libraries do great promotion, often pay an honorarium, and can draw good crowds. You’ll be more likely to sell books when people can hear you speak.
  3. Be entertaining. When you speak, convey your book’s message through stories and anecdotes. People remember stories. They come to learn, but also to be entertained. Audiences love learning the inside story behind your book.
  4. Do a book tour. If you want to travel with your book, target small, educated towns where the population still reads the daily newspaper or follows a single news source. Then get your event featured in that news source. For example, I visited Burlington,Vt., where the daily paper covered my talk. Ten people came to hear me, but nearly 200 people bought the book because they read the newspaper story. Publishers won’t typically pay for a tour these days, but if you give them several weeks’ notice, they will probably be glad to pitch the media around your dates.
  5. Be ready for media. Get media training. Practice TV and radio answers using a voice recorder (I used iMovie). Time your answers and listen for emphasis. Do you trail off at the end of each sentence? Are you ending on strong words? Radio and TV often only give you 10 to 15 seconds per answer. Time flies and short is golden!
  6. Find a landline. Make sure you have access to a landline for media interviews (radio and remote TV). All the shows I did required this. Turn off the call waiting beeps ahead of time.
  7. Include a call to action. Give readers a specific action to take. In every radio interview. On your website. At a speaking event. Obviously your message is “buy my book” but you can attract them with various incentives. Ex: “You can read a free sample chapter on my website heathershumaker.com.” “Get your free tips by signing up for my newsletter…” Direct people to your author Facebook page or website. Let them know how to buy the book.
  8. Save the first 2 weeks. My publicist told me to keep the first two weeks after my book’s launch clear, since this is when the big nationals might come calling. And call they did! Fox & Friends quickly whisked me off to an affiliate studio. Publicity begets publicity, so be constantly available by cell phone and e-mail when a national media outlet features you – chances are another news source will be in contact the next day or next hour.

To learn more about how to get opportunities to talk about your book with the media or to large groups, read more about “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz.” Heather took the course before her book was published, then worked hard to use what she learned. Read more about her story in Part 1.

What’s your best tip for preparing to talk about your book, whether it’s before a group or in a media interview?

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    1. Thanks for the link, Jennifer. Virtual book tours are an essential component for most book publicity plans these days. Heather did a great job with hers!


    2. Thanks, Jennifer! Your give-away and on-going enthusiasm have been tremendous. Of course, blogs are another way of “talking” about your book. Writers – check out Jennifer’s “Sticking My Neck Out” blog.

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