March 21, 2013

Why PR Loves Books

Mike Greece believes those who write have a leg up on the competition.

That’s true no matter if you’re a big fish, medium fish or just a minnow. In fact, the smaller the business, the larger the impact.

“For a small business, it really levels the playing field,” he said from his office in New York.

Greece knows whereof he speaks. Over his 30+ years in public relations, he has guided successful corporate and marketing communications programs for an array of companies and brands, including Coppertone, Western Union, Yankelovich Partners, TBM Consulting Group, the American Arbitration Association, Starter Sportswear and Grumman Aerospace.

He started a book practice 13 years ago, as he saw books as an excellent marketing platform. He works with authors to not only help them generate sales and interest in their books, but to craft their books in such a way as to maximize their success.

Those efforts can range from design to rearranging the sequence of the book to helping select a title, which may impact the book as a whole. For him, the process starts at the outset.

“I like to work with the client (to) strategize the content,” he said. “We can have the most value early on, to help guide the content and design. If you make a book important, that increases the chances of success.”

One such example is the work he did with financial advisor Dan Prisciotta. Prisciotta wanted to write a book to help people understand how to manage their assets, but Greece said its original title and approach didn’t jump out at the potential reader.

People are afraid of losing their assets, he says, and he suggested Prisciotta take a harder line. “You want to connect with people, tie it to a huge pain point, and get it into the title of the book.”

The result was Defend Your Wealth. Prisciotta has used it to the book as his calling card for managing the assets of clients.

Another example is a book on diversity in the workplace by Shirley Engelmeyer. Greece suggested expanding the concept of the book beyond traditional under-represented minorities to younger people and other groups, and then re-labeling the concept.

Engelmeyer took his advice, and in addition to including more groups, reworked to the title. Inclusion, the New Competitive Business Advantage, gained Engelmeyer a new audience. She was able to parlay her authorship into appearances on Fox Small Business, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Fortune magazine.

The public relations pro believes that books can serve as a meaningful part of a person’s or company’s marketing and public relations efforts, and he believes it’s important to craft the book with that in mind.

“Books are extremely powerful instruments, even in a digital age,” said Greece. “They establish authors as thought leaders and legitimize them as experts.”

Books can be leveraged in a number of ways. They amplify the presence of the brand and the speech of the brand in ways that social media don’t quite do.

“It helps you codify a body of knowledge,” said Greece. They also project the expertise of the author, he says.

Greece cautions that most books don’t make the best-sellers lists, but their success is measured in numerous other ways.

“A lot of writers want to be on the New York Times best-sellers list,” he said, but that’s probably not going to happen. Instead, he advises authors to concentrate on maximizing the return from using the book as a marketing tool.

It will help build your brand and raise your credibility, as well as lead to speaking engagements, appearances in media, and gain a new audience.

Learn more about Mike Greece and his firm at:  

March 15, 2013

Monkey Business

Going APE over self-publishing

The advantages of self-publishing are many: The ability to craft your message exactly the way you want it, the control you have over the final product, the control you have over print runs, the ability to put your own stamp on your marketing and public relations efforts. Not to mention the opportunity to realize a greater share of the profits.

As the head of a company that works with writers who self-publish, I’m obviously prejudiced. But those feelings aren’t just mine. Guy Kawasaki feels the same way, and shares those sentiments in his recently-published book, APE: How to publish a book. The APE in question refers to the mutliple roles of Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur that someone who self-publishes will fill.

Now, Kawasaki didn’t NEED to self-publish his book. As a successful author with 10 traditionally-published books to his credit, as well as being a noted speaker, blogger, marketer, and venture capitalist, he could easily have handed off his manuscript to any number of publishing companies. But he chose not to.

The key lay in his experience with his 10th book, Enchantment. When his publisher couldn’t fulfill a request for 500 copies of Enchantment as an e-book, Kawasaki saw the need to do things differently. His next book, What the Plus!, was self-published. The experience of self-publishing, which he calls “a complex, idiosyncratic, and challenging endeavor,” led directly to APE.

Of course, I’m prejudiced in favor of the self-publishing model. I’ve seen thousands of authors successfully self-publish and had a hand in many of those success stories.

As someone directly connected to the industry, it’s engaging to see someone from the other side of the aisle jump onboard. Kawasaki, always mindful of the public relations and marketing possibilities, sees the industry as a new market for him, and the best way to become an expert is – I’ve said it before – to write a book.

He likens self-publishing to launching a startup. You need to create a product, test it, raise money, recruit talent, and find customers – all at the same time. Whew.

But he’s right. Self-publishers, the successful ones anyway, are entrepreneurs. They want to change the world in some way, first by writing a book, then by making the book successful. Often they also embrace the roles of marketer and self-promoter. Thus the world of self-publishing is made for them.

Of course, the ultimate question when self-publishing is “Does it work?” In our view, and in Kawasaki’s, it certainly does. A glance at our roster of authors reveals cooks, salespeople, business people, doctors, financial planners, and others, all of whom reached beyond their comfort zone to successfully produce books.

While Kawasaki sees the advantages of self-publishing, he also sees the pitfalls. Among the areas he cites as ripe for error are these:

l Not hiring a professional copyeditor. Kawasaki says that when he turned in what he thought was the final copy of APE, he was sure there weren’t any mistakes in it. The copyeditor found 1,400.

l Designing your own cover. The cover of your book is what makes it stand out, and Kawasaki recognizes that. He says the cover is one of the most important marketing pieces for your book, so hiring a great graphics designer is money well spent.

l Not building your marketing platform in advance. He says self-publishing is not a serial process where you can write a book and then worry about marketing it later. If you intend to use your book as a key part of marketing your business, you need to pay attention to marketing as soon as you start writing.

Like us, Kawasaki has embraced self-publishing and is working to make it easier for those who follow.  With our expertise and experience in the industry and the wherewithal to assist would-be authors every step of the way, from conception to writing to design and printing, we are ready to engage with APEs in nearly every subject and genre.