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The Public Relations (PR) Process and Timeline

What: This tip sheet is designed to help you understand the PR process at Berrett-Koehler Publishers and to provide you with additional PR tips that you can use to help promote your book.

Why: Understanding how the PR process works and what you can do to help will lead to more book sales.

How: The PR process can last anywhere from two months to six months, depending on the type of book being promoted. Generally, the campaign will begin approximately four months before the publication date and extend two months past the publication date. Some books will be sold in bookstores and online, and some books will primarily be sold online. The PR process will vary from campaign to campaign. A campaign can comprise any or all of the following components.

Four months before publication date:

  • Article Campaign-Article campaigns are generally for academic or 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 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.

Two months before publication date:

  • The publicist will continue to follow up with the galley and article campaign outreach.
  • 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.
  • 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 BK publicist will continue to follow up with the media that received a review copy to get them to do online reviews, excerpts, or interviews.
  • The social networking campaign 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 networking will continue by tweeting PR 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 as necessary on Tuesdays by 4 p.m. Here is the template of information we need.
  • 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.

PR Tips for Authors: 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.
  • 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 newspapers on topics covered in the news related to your book.
  • List your public appearances and speaking engagements on www.booktour.com 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 for one week. Offer them the same opportunity on your blog.
  • Use the comment section of online media to post a thoughtful, relevant comment on an article, and include a link to your website. Monitor the comments under your articles.

If you have any questions about this tip sheet, please contact your BK publicist: Katie Sheehan or Cynthia Shannon.

Berrett-Koehler Publishers


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