PEN Workshop Series: Innovate Publicity Now
Thanks to all who joined us at the New School bright and early this December to enjoy coffee, bagels, and the inaugural workshop in PEN’s new Workshop Series. These workshops will continue throughout 2015, bringing a variety of literary professionals together to discuss topics related to craft, publishing, promotion, and more.
The event was live-streamed for members only, and close to one hundred people tuned in to watch the event from outside of New York City. During the workshop, publicists Katie Freeman, Lisa Vanterpool, and Lauren Cerand spoke about how you can work with an in-house or independent publicist to promote your work to the fullest extent. Thanks to a lively audience of PEN members, the questions ranged from how to selectively cultivate your social media presence, to the value of being honest with your publicist.
If you missed the workshop, we’ve hand-picked the ten best tips for you below:
1.) Know what the life of your book looks like. Start thinking about publicity six months before the publishing date: reserve speaking engagements; start cultivating your Twitter army. And keep thinking about publicity after the book comes out, too. There are things you can do in service for your book for the next year or two, not only in the two weeks after it comes out.
2.) Be playful and imaginative about where you send your work. It’s about starting a conversation, not about reaching the pinnacle of critical reviewing.
3.) For every perspective you have as an author/translator/poet, there’s an organization that supports that. Look at their resources. Figure out how you can work with them, and enhance your visibility within their communities. In Lauren Cerand’s words: “It’s about relationships – there’s always a new bridge to be built.”
4.) It’s all about transparency. If you’re working with both an independent publicist and an in-house publicist, keep everyone in clear, constant contact with each other so as not to step on toes. There is no end to publicity: the more hands on deck the better.
5.) You don’t have to do what you don’t want to do. Be honest with your publishing professionals about what you enjoy and derive success from what you are passionate about and comfortable with.
6.) Pick one or two social media outlets and forget about the rest. Spend some time thinking about what your social media voice is going to be, and what kind of audience you want to cultivate. Build a brand based around your writing, so that people know what to expect when your book comes out: a strong online platform can only benefit your work.
7.) These things take time, and it’s not always glamorous, either. It may feel amazing to be on NPR, but it’s the months and months of practice, dedication, and hard work that will get you there.
8.) Don’t spend the rest of your life online. Being present doesn’t mean checking in every five minutes. Use the scheduling options: sit down on Sunday and schedule a week’s worth of Facebook posts. Make sure to utilize the tools at hand to know where the conversation is going.
9.) Avoid risk on social media. Don’t get engaged in conversations you don’t need to be engaged in. Steer clear of conversations that may draw attention from your work.
10.) Publicists are professionals: trust them. An ideal author/publicist relationship is one where you work together to cultivate trust on both sides. Be honest with them about your strengths, and follow their leads.