I am pulling together a series of case studies from publishers, authors and booksellers looking at their use of social media. If you'd like to be involved please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org . Maura Brickell, Publicity Manager for Headline, discusses how they are using social media for book PR:
The impact of social media on book PR in the past 18 months has been incredible. Online PR is no longer an after thought for a campaign - it now sits firmly alongside more traditional media outlets. It has opened up other opportunities, there are now more places for promotion. It has enabled books and authors a voice that perhaps before would have been left fighting for space. In short, it has changed my job as Publicity Manager for Headline Publishing.
I am constantly astounded and impressed by the countless book bloggers and book websites that provide comprehensive reviews, source blog posts and interviews from authors and generally convey such passion for books. The majority of these people are unpaid, working in unrelated professions and their motivation being a genuine love for authors and books. How wonderful is that?! This access to such passion and love makes such a difference to not only the author, but can provide the online version of word of mouth. I love them.
The emergence of twitter came at exactly the right time for book PR, at a time where we were increasingly trying to grow our relationship with book bloggers and websites. It seemed difficult to bring focus and coherence to an online campaign due to the sheer number of online promotional opportunities. Twitter has become a focal point for PR and it is now possible to link in with hundreds of online reviewers in seconds. I can post and share interviews, reviews, or anything of note. Twitter has become a place where all the coverage for a book campaign can be collated and shared.
Another complete bonus with twitter is that most coverage in those traditional outlets such as newspapers is also available online. So, with twitter it is possible to break outside of the newspapers print circulation and spread an article far and wide into the twitterverse – it’s the best of both worlds. When Amanda Craig reviewed Wintercraft recently in The Times, I was instantly able to share the review on twitter with the author and my followers, and in turn she shared the news with her followers. The review was suddenly unleashed from the pages of The Times into the twitter community.
The area in which, as a publicist, I have seen the biggest impact would have to be commercial women's fiction – more often called chick lit. This genre, which is full of dynamic authors, is often given limited review space in the review sections of newspapers. Confined to monthly roundups the arrival of blogs has opened up a whole new world of promotion. Rather than persuading and cajoling a reviewer, I am communicating with reviewers with a genuine love for commercial women’s fiction. They are thrilled to receive review copies, they are keen to interview authors, and they love having authors write for them. All this activity increases the buzz for a book and builds a book’s presence online. This online visibility is vital as publishing moves further and further towards online buying and even online publishing.
The online promotional world also introduces the benefits of metrics. With links and back links it is now possible for PR to be measured. Previously, we could work our socks off for a piece of coverage and despite knowing the circulation of the newspaper, beyond that, would have no clue as to how many people physically read it never mind whether it impacted on a sale as a result.
A great number of Headline authors are on twitter and although social media is not something every author is comfortable with, as a publicist I would encourage any author to dip their toe in the Twitter world. Not just for promotion, but to make the most of the fantastic publishing contacts that twitter links together every day. Contact is now possible with other authors, with librarians, book bloggers, journalists, anyone really. There is a sense of camaraderie out there amongst authors. Our authors tweet as themselves with very little influence from us; we think it is important that they build a sense of self when using social media.
The great thing about online promotion and particularly twitter is there is a blog or a website appropriate for every single author. More often than not, the more niche the genre, the more passionate the blogger too. Online social media has changed book PR. No longer is a book competing for space in the ever decreasing broadsheet review sections - the internet is vast - there is space for everyone and, more importantly, the opportunity to make a lot of noise about an author or book.