So excited for my first post as an official AlleyCat! What my introductory “interview” didn’t mention was my background in book publicity. In over seven years, I’ve scheduled media appearances, coordinated bookstore events, and organized blog tours for authors. I could write an entire post filled with ways these bright and brilliant personalities have, to put it frankly, behaved badly.
But instead, I’m going to share three ways you can be a good guest in your promotional efforts so hopefully you’ll get invited back :)
1. Above all, be gracious. Whether you’re J.K. Rowling or a pre-published author with two Twitter followers, don’t get delusions of grandeur. If someone is hosting you, he or she is doing you a favor by giving you the chance to connect with a new audience.
Don’t act like you’re above an appearance or unhappy to be there. Because any hint of this in your tone can translate poorly for future opportunities, even with other outlets. Don’t be demanding. Ever. (See what I just did there?) Low maintenance guests who make a contact person’s job as easy as possible are much more likely to get invited again.
And do your best to make sure all of the stipulations you previously discussed with the contact person are met in a timely manner with excellence. Turn in your article or arrive at the designated place on time if not early. Don’t stray from the agreed subject matter or pull any fast ones. Even if you discover the people you're working with are difficult, only you are responsible for your behavior and the way you choose to react.
If you know your heart isn't into an opportunity enough to give it your very best, don’t commit to it in the first place. But if you do, see it through and be gracious. Always write a thank you note.
2. Give back to your audience. Hopefully you or your marketing team have created room in the budget for strategic giveaways that will capitalize an appearance’s exposure. If you haven't reached that point in your career, do keep that in mind! While published authors typically give away books, promotional materials, and packages of keepsakes that fit with their stories’ themes, if you’re not published, you can give away a book in your genre (Hint: Make sure to tag that author when promoting your appearance!), a service you provide such as design or editing, or even practical non-book-related items that fit with the brand you’re trying to create.
Food is also good if you’re appearing in person. Food is always good.
While tangible giveaway items can be beneficial, I’d argue that some kind of takeaway knowledge is just as valuable to your audience. Is the overall focus of your “spiel” self-serving, or will your audience be better for it? What can they learn from your education? Your experience? Your mistakes?
It’s important to have a good grasp on how your appearance is not only accomplishing your personal goals, but how it’s making your audience better, too.
3. Interact with your audience. Granted, this doesn’t apply for radio or TV spots unless the Q&A format is supported, but for appearances online or in print, make sure you check for comments and respond to the legitimate ones (graciously—see #1). End with a question or call to action that will encourage dialogue and make you more memorable.
People love talking about themselves. It's just the way most of us are wired. Your audience will remember someone who seemed invested in what they had to say. You don't have to make a bunch of new best friends or anything, but do make sure your appearance is two-sided if possible.
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And in everything, be professional but beeeeee yourself. Unless you’re just a terrible human being, in which case, do what the sweetest person you know would do :) But seriously, there’s a huge difference between a strong hook and tacky shock value. Always choose genuine and classy over shock value. It’s just the right thing to do.
These rules are important to keep in mind whether you’re an author, business, or anyone with a message or product to promote. Hopefully if you’ve been given the platform to reach a new audience, you’ll capitalize on it in a way that's beneficial for you and them, also keeping the opportunity open in the future.
What have your successful guest appearances been like? Have you ever worked with a difficult personality before?
Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom who writes stories of grace in the beautiful mess. When she's not writing, she enjoys car singing, baking, and going on adventures with her husband and little girl.
Her first book won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award (Contemporary), and her second is a current finalist in the 2014 Genesis Contest (Romance). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.
You can connect with Laurie at www.laurietomlinson.com or Facebook.com/