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How the Communications Department Helps Your Book Blast Off

Have you ever wondered how the Communications Department at Berrett-Koehler Publishers helps authors promote their books? Here's a thorough explanation of our process and timeline.

Who Promotes: The Communications Department is comprised of the Communications Assistant , the Social Media Strategist and Communications Manager , and the Senior Communications Manager. Our goal is to get your book and you, the author, attention and buzz out in the world, via a two-pronged strategy that targets both media and direct consumers.

How They Promote: The Senior Communications Manager pitches your book to broadcast media, print media, online media, and bloggers by sending review copies and creating press materials. The Social Media Strategist is the voice of BK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and LinkedIn. She promotes you and your book to these various online communities and also promotes them via webinars and videos. She will also provide social media coaching and support to authors. The Communications Assistant provides support for both strategies.

For How Long? A media campaign can last anywhere from two to six months, depending on the type of book being promoted. Generally, the campaign will begin approximately three months before the publication date and extend two months beyond the publication date. Generally the social media strategy will last two months.

The Campaign:
Some books will be sold in bookstores and online, and other books will primarily be sold online. The campaign strategy will vary from book to book. A campaign can be comprised of any or all the following components.

The Timeline

Four months before publication date

The Article Campaign

Article campaigns are generally more common for academic and business titles. They are most successful when the author is an expert in his/her field, or brings a fresh perspective to an old idea. Either you can initiate an article campaign to your own contacts, or your publicist can create a list and pitch the editors with whom he/she has relationships or who seem like key targets.

You should work with the publicist to identify key publications that are relevant to the campaign. Target publications typically include academic journals, association publications, newsletters, and magazines.

You should also provide the publicist with article topics. Topics could include material directly from the book or hot topics that tie into current events and news stories. Materials associated with the article campaign include an email pitch with a link to the e-galley (an electronic version of the galley, which is an advance uncorrected version of the book created from the page proofs) and three to four article topics with a few sentences that describe why they’re compelling.

Long Lead Print Campaign

The aim of the print campaign is to garner book reviews that will appear in traditional print publications (magazines and newspapers) during the month of the book’s publication. The publicist will create a long lead media list that includes book review editors at appropriate publications and pitch the book to be featured in a review or article.

The book is pitched by sending a printed galley or a link to the e-galley and a cover letter. The publicist will follow up via email in the months leading up to publication with endorsements, the press release, and any interesting links that are available, such as links to author videos.
Bookstore Events
Some books will be appropriate for bookstore events and some will not. If bookstore events make sense for your book, the process will begin four months in advance of the publication date. The publicist will pitch the event coordinators via email with the appropriate materials, press release, links to media, and links to any author videos.

Three months before publication date:

  • The press materials- The publicist will begin creating the press materials, which include a press release and extended biography. If the campaign is national and includes broadcast media (radio and television), a list of topics or interview questions may also be created.
  • The tweets- The social media strategist (sms) will begin pulling Tweets from the book for the Twitter campaign.
  • The facebook posts- The social media strategist will begin creating graphics for the Facebook campaign
  • The coaching- The social media strategist will engage the author in a social media coaching session, to figure out how they can leverage their time on social media for maximum effectiveness.

Two months before publication date

The follow-up- The publicist will continue to follow up with the galley and article campaign outreach.

The review copy mailing- The publicist will finalize press materials and begin compiling the review copy mailing (RCM) list. A copy of the final book and press materials will be sent to the RCM list of editors at targeted websites, newspapers, and broadcast outlets (if appropriate). The RCM list is created from a variety of sources—BK contacts, author contacts, and Cision, which is a media database that we subscribe to.

The outside strategy- If outside publicists are working on the project, the BK publicist will coordinate with them to reach out to the most appropriate media contacts.

One month before the publication date—SHIP DATE

Review copies will be mailed out of the BK warehouse in Vermont about a week after the ship date. Books will be mailed to the RCM list with press materials, and the BK publicist will follow up about ten days later.

Publication date/launch week

The review copy follow-up- The BK publicist will continue to follow up with the media that received a review copy to ask them to publish online reviews, excerpts, or interviews.
The social media campaign- It will begin. The book will be posted on the BK Facebook fan page during the launch week. A book announcement will be made with a link to the book page on the BK website. Links to articles and any media hits will be posted on Twitter and Facebook. The BK publicist will retweet the author’s tweets.

Ongoing for two months past publication date:

  • Media follow-up will continue for the RCM. The BK publicist will also continue to mail review copies at your request.
  • Social media will continue by tweeting media hits, posting links to your articles on Facebook and Twitter, and posting information about your public appearances.
  • The publicist will continually include any major publicity hits in a weekly publicity update that is sent to our sales reps. Please update us on a weekly basis.
  • Berrett-Koehler will provide a list of all the media outreach and any clippings or links to media placements in a sales and marketing summary report.

What can you do to help with the publicity of your book?

  • Send information about your book or copies of your book to media contacts who have previously taken an interest in your work or with whom you have a relationship (or would like to establish one), as well as any organizations, associations, or websites that would be likely to mention, review, or otherwise promote the book.
  • Arrange to have articles based on themes from the book appear in key magazines, journals, newsletters, newspapers, and online sites that reach a good target audience for your book per the article-pitching information above. Be sure that the following credit line is included: Based on the book (your book’s title: subtitle), copyright (year) by (your byline). Reprinted with the permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA, www.bkconnection.com or 800-929-2929 800-929-2929 .
  • Join www.helpareporter.com. This is a FREE service that puts authors in touch with reporters who are writing stories for major publications and are looking for experts to quote.
  • Write opinion pieces or letters to the editor of your favorite/local newspapers on topics covered in the news related to your book.
  • List your public appearances and speaking engagements on your website to help publicize them.
  • If you have a blog, begin making contact with other, influential bloggers. Arrange for the bloggers to review your book or for you to be a guest blogger on their sites. Offer them the same opportunity on your blog.