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Monday, April 23, 2012

Publicity for Novelists: Opportunity Knocks Quietly, Listen Hard

Any publicist will tell you that drumming up publicity for a non-fiction author is a lot easier than doing so for a novelist. With the hundreds of thousands of novels published a year, there's a lot of competition for very few media slots.

Think about it. How often do you see a novel covered in the news or a magazine? Very rarely. Non-fiction just lends itself to these venues, because it gives them ready made material that by nature, is meant to make our lives better somehow. If you're a magazine editor for Vogue, would you rather feature the hottest new diet book which you can excerpt into an article called, Just a Spoonful of Sugar Will Make You Thin THIS MONTH or figure out how to work in yet another novelist's book which has no bearing on your readers other than being the fourteen hundredth this year vying to be the next recommend?

Kind of a no-brainer, right? So, how does a fiction author get coverage? You need to start thinking like a publicist and use every opportunity that presents itself to promote your work. This doesn't mean the hard sell and me, me, me, look at me! social media stance many authors take. It means keeping your eyes open for news tie-ins for your work.

For example, my sophomore novel, Dry as Rain, dealt with the subject of infidelity within a Christian marriage. If suddenly Brad Pitt is in the news because of being unfaithful to Angelina Jolie. (this is just an example, I have no gossip), suddenly the public becomes interested in relationships that seemed perfect, but behind closed doors were anything but. Or say another famous couple has a marriage that seemingly ends out of nowhere but we learn that things had never been quite right (think of Amy Grant some years ago). A window of opportunity opens that gets the press interested in a specific subject and you can jump through that window by pitching non-fiction articles on the subject. 10 Marriages that Shocked the World When They Ended, or whatever. Hopefully you get the idea.

Winning prestigious (or even not so prestigious awards) is also a good way to get media interested. I learned a few days ago that Dry as Rain was a Christy finalist. What was the first thing I did? Okay, call my friends. But the second was to alert local media. Winning or finalling gives them a news angle or a REASON to cover you. Take advantage.

In the world of publicity, be ready for lots and lots of no's and being ignored completely. You cast your widest net and if you get one yes out of a dozen no's, consider yourself lucky.

The thing with publicity is to keep that little snowball rolling, day after day, month, after month, year after year until one fine day, you cause an avalanche.


Gina Holmes is the founder of Inspire a Fire and Novel Rocket. Her debut, Crossing Oceans, was a Christy and Gold Medallion finalist and winner of the Carol Award, INSPY, and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice, as well as being a CBA, ECPA, Amazon and PW Religion bestseller. Her sophomore novel,  Dry as Rain, released in 2011. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her family in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their past and discover their God-given purpose. To learn more about her,


  1. You really have to keep your finger to the pulse of the media, too, don't you? And have your book entered in contests. Congrats on the Christy finagling, Gina. Dry as Rain is an excellent book, looking at a hard subject. You aren't afraid to tackle those, and I'm proud of you.

  2. Oh, I'm afraid, ha. I just do it anyway. Thanks Ane. Couldn't have done it without you.

  3. Great post, Gina. I need to get your book, since I loved Crossing Oceans! I was just talking w/Dani Pettrey (got to meet her at her Lynchburg signing) about how you dealt w/a difficult topic/ending in the first book, too. (Hope that wasn't a spoiler. I seriously need to post "spoiler alert" in front of every comment I ever make...)

    Anyway, thanks for helping us think more like publicists about these things!

  4. Or you could be the originator of a fabulous, award-winning website which everyone appreciates and admires . . . ;)

    Just sayin'.

  5. Thanks Heather. Dani was in Lynchburg? I missed that. I'm only an hour away from there. You're welcome on the article. Not most of us' favorite subject :-)

  6. Nicole, ha-ha. Every little bit helps :)

  7. All about rolling that snowball!

    Congratulations, Gina! I love your writing voice!
    ~ Wendy

  8. Yes, she was at the Drowsy Poet this Sat., as well as some other places that morning. So cool to meet her. I was hoping to do the Blue Ridge conf. this year and meet you, Gina, and lots of writers living nearby, but our lives are kind of up"heaved" at the moment (moving soon)!

  9. Very informative. It seems like all twitter is, is the me me me brand. Do you find it difficult to balance writing and self publicizing?

  10. Sorry to hear that, Heather. Those seasons are tough. Maybe at ACFW in Sept? Dominic, it's a tough balance for sure. Publicity can easily take over every day if you let it. The trick is to do say five solid things a day, every day and then get back to the writing. Most writers would rather be writing and I'm no exception but when I see so many good books drown because of lack of attention, it scares me straight. It's a tough business with lots of competition.

  11. Great points, Gina. Every person, every story has a hook for media if we will take the time to find it. Yesterday I read a news story about an 87 year old woman who had just published her first novel. It was a terrific human interest story and made me what to read her book!

  12. This reminds me that I really need to read Dry as Rain.

    I understand the no's. Oh boy, do I understand them. I'm in the process of organizing a silence auction to help raise money for our adoption. I've been calling all kinds of local businesses asking for donations (feel like such a shmuck doing this). Lots of no's. But the occasional yes makes it all worth it.

  13. That is a great story, Kathy. Would make me want to read it too. Katie, some days it wears you down, or me at any rate, but I always look at it like they're going to say no so when I finally get a yes, I'm pleasantly surprised. And those few yes's really do seem to make a difference. Donations are a whole different ball game. Been there and even for a good cause it feels like you're standing on a street corner rattling a can.


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