Publicist Tailors Advice for Indies, Part II

Julie Schoerke

Julie Schoerke is the founder of JKSCommunications, which specializes in book publicity campaigns that integrate traditional and new media, and in managing comprehensive publicity campaigns. A PR expert for more than 25 years, Schoerke built her business with a variety of corporate clients and high-profile individual clients and events before focusing on literary publicity. This is the second part of an interview during which Julie took time out to answer questions important to self-published authors.

What are some creative ways an Indies can distinguish their Facebook pages from their website and other social media sites?

Steve Piacente

JK– You don’t want to make your Facebook presence look different from your website. When you’re an Indie author, then you have to learn about all the other aspects of publishing, which includes branding. You want all of your social networking platforms to be immediately identifiable as being part of your “brand” – also, along the same lines, if you’re planning to write more than one book, brand yourself, not your book. You want people to find you and then all of your books. If you brand your first book as the “look” of your campaign – then when your second and third books come out, they are forever tied to the images of the first book. First and foremost, spend some money on getting a really good jpeg (photo) of yourself and use it consistently everywhere – it’s OK if you have several photos taken during the session and keep a couple of other shots (with the same colors – clothes and background) to send out as needed to the media when they are asking you to mix it up a little.

Should an Indie invest time and money on podcasts? Why?

JK In a word, No. Unless the author is building his/her own brand as a business expert, life coach, etc. then a podcast isn’t going to sell more books, most likely. If they want their own internet radio program, I have no problem with that. We’ve had several authors for whom we’ve created media tours and after being interviewed for radio, they are offered their own radio program because they have a natural knack. Also, we’ve worked with radio interviewers over time that end up writing their own books and then hire us to do the promotion, because they’ve worked with us on the “other side.” But, if you are asked to pay to get placement on a podcast as a guest, I’d run. Programs like that don’t normally have “real” audience numbers that support the exorbitant fees they request. There are too many other places to be interviewed to pay for placement on podcasts.

What are the top five writing and publishing websites you visit most frequently?

JK Authors will probably want to follow a list different than the one I follow. It’s important for authors to get and give support from a “community” of peers. Here are some ideas of websites/blogs to follow depending on what you want to see trending or what you want to learn:

– What manuscripts are getting sold to traditional publishers, and what’s the “skinny” behind the deals? Sign up for a daily email: Publishers Lunch through Publisher’s Weekly – the free edition or the paid edition – either are great.

– What’s  happening on the “business” side of publishing? Sign up for these daily newsletters: Publishers Weekly; Shelf Awareness (pro edition); GalleyCat

– Getting into the mind of an agent: Nathan Brandsford

– Exploring and finding book and author blogs that suit you:

Additional from Steve:,  Novel Publicity,  Marketing Tips for Authors, and Author Learning Center (watch my live webinar here on self-publishing Bella: 1/25, 7:30 p.m.)

Please share your favorite success story from a client you counseled.

JK – We have so many really great success stories that we love to share about our clients, who become family to us, that it’s hard to narrow it to one. And I want to be really clear, we don’t claim the success – it’s our authors’ success completely and totally! We have some clients who are super-stars and authors and publishers will contact us based on the success of those authors’ books or recommendations of us. And, I’m the first to say that the reason the book took off was because the author worked hard and creatively with a great attitude, never turning anything down that we asked them to do.

There are 3 quick stories that I love:

– Cheryl Rainfield, author of SCARS and HUNTED, for the last couple of years has sent me parts of emails she receives every few days – deleting the name of the sender, because she is super vigilant to keep people’s information private – about how a teen chose to live or rejected suicide or self-mutilation as a result of reading her books and not feeling so alone. How many teen novels save lives?

– Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen mysteries series, called a couple of months ago exhausted but perky (she’s always upbeat!) and asked how we were finding so many book clubs for her to Skype with, call in to, or visit. She said the visits, which she loved, were taking over nearly every evening she had. I told her that we hadn’t made any calls to the book clubs that were contacting her directly (we schedule for our clients anyway, they don’t have to schedule for themselves unless they want to). I was so happy to say, “You did it! Your campaign is now word-of-mouth – everybody is finding you on their own!” – that’s the key to a successful publicity campaign, when book club members and readers are recommending your book!

– Joe Lunievicz lives his life in a way that I admire tremendously. He’s never pushy, never puts himself or his wishes above helping others. We were at a major literary conference and I was afraid he wasn’t going to get a chance to speak because the conference that year wasn’t well organized (it had been in the past). So, I started doing my “publicist” thing and jostling for positioning for him. He pulled me aside and said very kindly, “Don’t worry, Julie, I’ll get my turn. Let these other folks go first.” He had been ahead of them, kind of, in the disorganized queue that sort of existed. I wasn’t so sure he would get a turn at all. But he was adamant. He didn’t get great positioning. But a few weeks later his book released and the first printing of his YA historical novel Open Wounds was sold out and the publisher had gone back for a second printing. He didn’t “win” that day at the conference, but he did convince me that sometimes the good guy really does come in first.

Julie, thank you for appearing on my blog!

JSSteve, thank you so much for interviewing me today! I’m a HUGE fan of yours – Bella is the kind of novel that grips and never lets go. I’ve gotten a sneak peak at your next novel and your fans are in for a real treat!

Writers, please join the dialogue with questions or comments!


4 Comments so far »

  1. Kate Evangelista said,

    Wrote on January 8, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

    Great interview, Steve! Learned something new today. Thanks for that. I’ll definitely keep branding in mind. 🙂


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Look and feel is a huge part of it, for sure. Thanks for dropping by, Kate!


  2. Collette Scott said,

    Wrote on January 25, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

    I have had your email in my inbox notifying me of the new post, but I’m just getting to it now. I just want to say thank you again. This is such tremendously helpful advice, and it also makes me feel a little validated for some things that I’ve already done. Thank you again for sharing such wonderful information.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Sure thing, Collette, and I’m glad Julie’s advice synched up with what you’re doing from a marketing standpoint.


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