Friday, August 12, 2011

How Do You Generate Buzz for the Debut & Mid-List Titles?

Many of you will remember Elisabeth Weed, founder of Weed Literary, from The Writing Life talk we held this past January on Finding a Literary Agent*. In addition to her daily work, Elisabeth also manages to find time to write a very informative blog about the publishing business.

In her most recent post, she talks to Lucinda Blumenfeld, an agent who also works as an outside publicist and marketing professional, about the challenges of raising awareness for debut and mid-list titles.

Lucinda’s message is that word of mouth (she calls it “WOM”) is crucial, and appears to be the catalyst for the most popular books. We’ve talked about it before, in a number of The Writing Life programs, how authors must do more for themselves and must start much earlier in the process. Lucinda worked with NYSL member writer Gretchen Rubin on publicity for her wildly successful The Happiness Project. In our April 2010 talk Social Networking for Writers, just after publication of her book (and its debut on the NYT Bestseller List), Gretchen regaled (and slightly terrified) our member writers with the story of what it takes to build that word of mouth. It’s hard work. It takes time, effort, and dedication. But, according to Lucinda, it can also be gratifying for authors when their “fangelists” start tweeting and blogging the book.

She’s upfront about the fact that authors need to be realistic. You’re probably not going to get the front page of the New York Times Book Review or a tv spot, so look for non-traditional routes like writing an op-ed or a trend piece. Find outlets where you can have a larger impact, a place where you can get a larger conversation started which will be the hook that gets readers back to your book.

So get to it. Now’s the time! (Lucinda suggests getting started 6-8 months before publication.) Read the full interview with Lucinda in The Weekly Weeder.

*for recaps of The Writing Life talk Finding A Literary Agent, click here, here, and here.

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