I typically go through a series of questions with the author such as where they have lived, where they went to college, where they grew up, what media contacts they have, and what kind of budget they have for travel. After I have concluded with these questions, I try to put together a reasonable plan for us to work on together.
WHAT ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS A WRITER CAN MARKET HERSELF/HIMSELF?
To start, they need to go with what they know locally and build from there. For instance, try to write an editorial for the local paper, get to know the editor, see if they will cover the book. Then, take that coverage a little wider, to say, their college alumni magazine. These things aren’t sexy, but typically they work. A first-time novelist spending all their efforts trying to get a mention in the New York Times is very risky.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHY DO SO MANY AUTHORS FAIL AT MARKETING THEMSELVES/THEIR BOOK?
Because they don’t do the things I suggested above, and they don’t put away money from their advance to pay for third-party help. They also have a tendency to wait until the last-minute when nothing can be done.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS NEGATIVE PUBLICITY? WHAT SHOULD AN AUTHOR AVOID WHEN TRYING TO SELF-PROMOTE?
There isn’t too much negative publicity involved in books other than a bad review. Of course, if someone plagiarizes or does something stupid at a party, that is being covered by the press, that can cast a negative light on the writer’s integrity.
As for what to avoid, I would say avoid being negative about what didn’t happen on a previous title and focus on what their goals and expectations are for the future. And, then have a clear sense of what they would like to see happen on the project and convey that in writing that doesn’t go on forever.
WHAT SUGGESTIONS WOUD YOU PROVIDE TO WRITERS LOOKING FOR A PUBLICIST?
Know what you can afford and have reasonable expectations. And be nice to the publicist because he or she really is working for you and wants good results as much as you.