Friday, April 25, 2008

Don Otis (Advice for Novelists, Part 44)

Here's another great entry in our series in which editors, authors, agents and publicists answer the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Take your time and do your research. From my perspective, the best fiction weaves facts, history and a sense of place with a terrific storyline and characters.

As a publicist and nonfiction author, I have to approach this question from the standpoint of marketing. You have to look at fiction publicity the same way you do nonfiction. The broadcast media is primarily information and issues-driven. This means promotion requires a credible angle. Most interviewers are not interested in discussing your characters or plot; they want to know how your writing relates to the real world and what qualifies you to talk about it. Are you an attorney writing about legal issues, a nurse discussing the global proliferation of drug resistant viruses?

In promoting fiction, think about the issues in your book. Excise these and use them as a foot in the door with the media and for creating your media materials. Let these serve as the hook for producers or hosts of radio or television programs. Ultimately, publicity means selling yourself, your product, or your idea.

An effective media release should never serve as a book review. That’s not what a media release is for. Rather, it’s designed to whet the appetite of the person who decides whether to have you on their program. The tendency of some in-house publicity people is to write a book review instead of a provocative, issues-related media release.

--Don Otis, publicist and author
Veritas Communications

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