Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Interview with Emily Showgren: Cedar Fort Public Relations

Emily, thank you for taking some time to share information about Public Relations at Cedar Fort.

Steve: How long have with been with CFI and what are your primary duties?

Emily: I have been with CFI since August 28, 2010 so I’m still pretty new. My primary duty is author relations but I’ve also been fulfilling the role of publicist for the last month. Lately, I’ve been scheduling a lot of signings for our authors as well as getting them media attention.

Steve: What should every new author know about Public Relations and marketing as they are writing or preparing for the release of their first book?

Emily: While writing, I recommend figuring out who the audience is and how they are going to sell the book. The book needs to resonate with as many people as possible. Also, I recommend keeping up with different blogs and other outlets online that would be a good fit for the book. Our world revolves around technology so it’s a great way to reach a lot of people.

Steve: Are there common mistakes most authors make in approaching the marketing of their book?

Emily: Trying to do everything themselves. There are certain things that need to go through us, especially book signings. If I know that a certain store doesn’t mind authors contacting them, I will give permission to contact. However, another common mistake is thinking the job of promoting the book is all mine and Cedar Fort’s. We need cooperation from authors as well as any ideas they may have. We’re pretty creative but there’s always a new idea out there.

Steve: Does Cedar Fort have a standard marketing plan for every book released, or is a specialized plan developed for each new release?

Emily: I send all the new releases each month to the appropriate media in Utah as well as other places the authors suggest. If we have an LDS title, it goes to places like LDS Living, Meridian Magazine, Mormon Times, etc. If it’s a national title, it goes to places like The Salt Lake Tribune, The Standard Examiner, Salt Lake City Weekly, etc. We’ve also been having a lot of success with bloggers. If a blog has several hundred or thousand followers it can be a great marketing tool.

Steve: There is a common feeling among authors that if a publisher wants a book to be a big hit, all the publisher has to do is throw marketing dollars at the project. Is there truth to this or is it totally off base?

Emily: This is definitely off base. There needs to be a combination of marketing and good old-fashioned PR. If you see a billboard with a book on it, you may not think twice but if you see the billboard and then run into the author at a book signing or see an article or interview with them, it reminds you. We see the most success with authors who are willing to go out of their comfort zones and work at selling their books. We have great sales reps here but the author knows the book best. It’s those authors who go out to do signings or who are networking who end up selling books.

Steve: How does CFI decide which books to place its marketing muscle behind?
(author following and prior sales, genre, personal marketing effort of author?)

Emily: All of the things you listed come into play. Sometimes authors think their work is done once the book has been published. It’s important the author sticks with it and puts as much effort into selling and marketing their book as they did writing it. When looking at what to spend marketing dollars on, we look at returning authors who have sold well as well as newer authors who have a great marketing plan in place. We do look at websites and blogs a lot as well to see if the author has a following and how they can use it to their advantage. If an author doesn’t have a webpage but we still feel they have potential, our website designer will help them put together a page. This is something brand new that we are starting for Cedar Fort authors.

Steve: For non-Utah authors, what can be done to encourage sales in Deseret Book, Costco and Walmart if they are unavailable for book signings?

Emily: There are opportunities to do signings at DB, Seagull, Costco, and other stores outside of Utah. Authors do need to be approved to sign at those stores and arrangements need to go through me and corporate.

Also, having an online presence is huge. Authors should be utilizing Facebook and blogs. Following blogs and inviting people to be a part of theirs is what is going to bring followers. Make sure to mention where the book is sold and link to the page the book is on.

Steve: How does CFI market non-LDS based fiction and non-fiction to the national market?

Emily: We have a national sales manager who does a great job at getting our books into national bookstores.

Steve: Is there a move at CFI to increase sales to a national audience?

Emily: We continue to try to find and publish books that will appeal to the national market so we can build our presence.

Steve: Authors are encouraged to sell their product by doing book signings and launch parties etc. Does CFI view book signings as a successful tool in driving sales?

Emily: We do as long as the signing is held in an approved and appropriate venue and the author is willing to work at selling their book. Sitting behind a table for two hours isn’t going to sell books and it’s not fun either. Engaging with customers and not being afraid to sell themselves and their book is most important.

Steve: What should an author expect of the publisher regarding marketing and PR?

Emily: First of all, trust us. I’m not going to steer you in the wrong direction. If I did, not only would you not be successful, Cedar Fort wouldn’t be either. I’m the person authors should come to regarding any and all questions they have after the publishing process. If I don’t know the answers, I will get them. I’m pretty good at responding to my authors within 24 hours – unless it’s a weekend and then it will be a little bit longer.

I will send out review copies to appropriate outlets as well as write and send press releases and help facilitate any media opportunities that come about. I’m also working hard at getting our books award recognition. I research different award opportunities and submit books I think are appropriate. I will notify authors if I’ve submitted their book and if they’ve won anything. Any media marketing opportunities (i.e. Radio and TV ads) go through the marketing team and we then decide what will be produced and run. Book trailers are something we’ve been working on as well and hope to produce more of those in-house soon.

Steve: What should an author expect to do on their own?

Emily: Network and find outlets that would be a good fit for their book. We give authors a 60% discount on their books so if they continue to come up with reviewers who are interested and the 10 free promotional copies have been used, they can get a great deal and get those books into hands.

I appreciate Emily taking the time to answer my questions. I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but the people at Cedar Fort are a class act.

Check out my blog to read my interview with Dan Harrington, Author of Who's At The Door? He's a fellow Cedar Fort Author who deserves our support. Interesting book-Interesting Interview.

On an ending note, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope your holidays are filled with love and joy.



Danyelle Ferguson said...

Thanks for this interview, Steve. As a new Cedar Fort author, it was really informative. I'm excited to work with Emily and everyone else at CFI!

Rebecca Talley said...

Great interview! Thanks!!

I'll actually be doing a signing on January 15th in Logan at The Book table from 11:00-1:00 and in Ogden at the Wisebird Bookery from 3:00-5:00--definitely out of my comfort zone!

Steve Westover said...

Thanks for the comments.

Danyelle, I look forward to your book. We have a LOT of special needs in my Ward and I'm excited about reading your book. Congrats!

Rebecca, good luck on the signing and congrats again on your new book. Very exciting!

Michael Knudsen said...

Very informative and timely interview, Steve. I've also been impressed withe Emily and the team at CFI. I'm glad to see that I'm doing all of the "online" stuff that's expected of an author. In January I start taking the show on the road with signings, a couple of steps outside my comfort zone!

Braden said...

This was good interview. I have really enjoyed working with Emily.

Anna Buttimore said...

Thanks for this, it was really helpful. I'm in the UK so although this will be my fourth book, I've yet to do a book signing. Great to read of all these other helpful ideeas, though, and to know how efficient and effective Cedar Fort are when it comes to marketing.