Babs Hightower PR - Behind the Scenes
Are you a new author wondering how to tackle the world of promotions? Or are you a seasoned author overwhelmed by promotions? Either way Babs Hightower may have some ideas for you that could may your life a little easier.
Babs, I know you promote authors with Decadent publishing, and also have individual authors you work with on promotion, but what else can you share about your background and how you got into promoting authors and publishers?
In 2008 I started my book review blog Babs Book Bistro. I was reading cozy mysteries at the time. I reached out to the authors I loved and asked them to guest on the blog. Cleo Coyle talked to me and suggested I start getting more involved with blog tours and promoting more authors. As my blog started to grow, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I contacted Entangled Publishing back in 2010 and was hired in publicity. I worked my way up to Director over one of their lines. I loved it so much I branched out and opened Babs Hightower PR so I could help other authors. I left Entangled and am now working at Decadent Publishing with a great boss and a terrific group of authors.
A lot of authors are frustrated by promotions, and some have expressed feeling like a tree falling in the forest when they see no results from their efforts. What is a good way for an author to determine if their promotion efforts do produce results?
Good question as this can vary depending on what the promotion is/was. When doing blog tours you need to check your rating on Amazon to see if it is going up or down. Comments are another determining factor as well. If you don’t see many comments it could mean the post is not getting looked at much.
Book Blast would be the same way. I would also look at Goodreads and see if anyone added the book to their shelves. When people add books it does help it get noticed. The more your book is on shelves, the better, as their followers will see they have added the book and they might add it to their shelves too.
Radio show results can be as simple as how many people call in to comment or ask questions, and again check your Amazon and Goodreads shelves.
For a Facebook party obviously how many attend and participate in comments. But you can also check the insights they are listed on the right hand side. They are reached, viewed and engaged. Engaged will let you know how many have come in and comment and took part in the party.
A good source to use is Thunderclap. I have used them a few times now and it works wonderful and easy for everyone to click and go.
What is Thunderclap?
Thunderclap is a tool that lets a message be heard when you and your friends say it together. Think of it as an "online flash mob." Join a Thunderclap, and you and others will share the same message at the same time, spreading an idea through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that cannot be ignored.
One thing that appears often on suggestions is obtaining interviews which can be difficult, especially on larger sites, some of which don’t bother to respond to inquiries. What is the best way for an author to get an interview on their desired sites, radio or YouTube?
The best way is be honest with the bloggers/interviewer. Go to the person’s site and look around. Things that catch your eye comment on in the email you send. It goes a long way when the blogger can tell you really did go to their site and look around. That shows you took time to check them out and value their opinion. Be up front. Tell them what you would like to have done. Most of the bloggers will say yes. Do not send out a form letter. Bloggers can see them a mile away and it will go into file 13 quicker than anything else they get.
The same applies to reviews. At times sending out a request for a review is greeted with silence. How can an author who is not on a Bestseller List get their books reviewed?
The same applies for reviews. Please go to the bloggers website and read their guidelines. If you do not follow them they will not even respond to you. We can tell when an author doesn’t take the time to check. We receive requests where we are called the wrong name, mentioned another reviewer, or try to send us a book that is a genre we don’t even read. These types of things will go in file 13 as well, and the reviewer may never read any of your books. We take pride in our blogs and do great reviews for a reason. We want to help promote the author, but if the author doesn’t take the time to check out the guidelines it won’t happen. Most are fairly simple to follow. Following directions will go a long way to getting reviewed.
Blog tours are another suggestion one sees a lot in the Do It Yourself books on promotions. How does one approach a blogger to inquire about appearing on their blog? Should they mention they are setting up a tour of X number of blogs?
Blogs fill up quick so you can’t wait too long to approach a blogger. First make sure it is a genre that is for your book. Some might not promote YA authors or erotica. So make sure you check out their blogs. Be sure to send a media kit and or blurb and book info so the blogger can get a good idea of what your book is about. Be sure to list the dates of your tour and what you are offering to host, ie. Interviews, guest post, reviews, podcast, top 10 list, playlist etc. If you are hosting a giveaway that will help as readers love to come by for a giveaway. I would not mention they would like a certain amount of stops unless they know the blogger well and know they will share about it.
Is there an angle that works best for self-promotions?
What works for one author might not work for another. Sometimes you have to try a few things and see what works best for you. I would use Thunderclap to get started on promoting yourself and work your way up. A Facebook party or Twitter party will not hurt a bit.
Okay, let’s say an author has decided they can’t juggle all the promotion details on their own any longer and are ready to find someone to handle some aspects so they can focus on writing. What sort of questions should they ask when interviewing a potential Promotion Specialist or Personal Assistant?
A few questions to ask to get a good feel for someone is talk. Request a phone call at a time where neither of you will feel rushed. I like talking to the authors at least once, so I can get a good feel if we would work well together, plus get some ideas on what they are looking for.
You need to ask how long they have been promoting.
What sorts of promotions have they done?
Who are some of the authors they have worked with?
What do they expect from the author?
How are out are you booked?
Ask their rates and keep in mind some love what they do and don’t charge and arm and a leg. Not all of us are charging hundreds of dollars.
Do you have room in your schedule for new clients, and if so, how does one contact you? Do you have a site where authors can go to view some of your ideas?
I am taking on new clients. I can be reached at Babs@babshightowerpr.com and my website is http://www.babshightowerpr.com
Any other thoughts on ways authors can help themselves?
Be sure to do cover reveals to get things started and get people interested. Also, use Goodreads to get word out on your event and Thunderclap as well to share. Some people might not see a post on your Facebook page or Twitter account. So share everywhere you can think of.
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, sprung to adulthood in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She is a member of RWA and has served as President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband.