Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why You Need Expert Positioning

I read an article by Joan Price recently that outlined some of her book promotion experiences (to receive a copy of the article, e-mail Joan). She noted that her publisher’s goal for the launch of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty was to position her as an expert on senior sexuality. This caught my attention because it’s what I teach in my book publicity e-course, but it’s a concept that many of my students struggle to grasp. They don’t see themselves as experts.

I interviewed Joan about what the expert positioning did for her book promotion and what she learned about the experience. Here's her story:

Q. How easy or difficult was it for you to accept that you were an expert on your book’s topic? Please tell me a little bit about how you reacted or what you thought of the suggestion.

I loved it! I was eager to talk out loud about senior sexuality, a subject that was pretty much under the covers before my book came out. I wanted to promote my book, and I wanted to get this subject out into the open. This advice to position myself as the go-to media resource on this topic turned out to be just right.

Q. What has this expert positioning done for your book’s marketing efforts? Can you offer an example or two where that strategy paid off?

Three years after publication, when most nonfiction books have crawled back into obscurity, I am still sought for media interviews – in fact, three in the past month dealing with senior dating. Sometimes I’m quoted on peripheral subjects by reporters who remember interviewing me previously and want to get the “senior sex” viewpoint on a topic, for example pole dancing (New York Times).

The biggest coup was when ABC-TV's "Nightline" was looking for an expert on senior sexual health to talk about dating seniors using or not using condoms and being at risk for HIV and other STDs. The producer Googled the topic and my blog came up. I had blogged about safer sex for seniors, and had received many comments from readers who didn’t think they needed to take precautions. The producer contacted me immediately to set up a “chat,” which I knew was my interview audition. After much back-and-forth, a crew came to Sebastopol, Calif., and filmed me for a full day. I ended up with four and a half minutes on national television – you can’t buy that!

By the way, the publisher had sent that show a review copy of my book when it first came out, but it wasn’t relevant to them at the time. Continuing to stay current on your topic and keeping your views in public view turns out to be more important for long-term promotion than sending unsolicited, fresh-off-the-press review copies.

Q. Do you reinforce your positioning by continuing to study your book’s topic even though the book is out and selling?

Of course! This topic is my passion.

Q. Do you take any specific steps to further bolster your expert positioning – do you blog on your book’s topic, speak, conduct workshops, etc.?

All of the above. My blog is actively talking about senior sex, dating, aging, spicing up long-term relationships, communication between partners, and sex in general. I blog book reviews, which lets me alert my readers to other books they’d enjoy, and has the added benefit of creating mutual promotion with other authors. My husband (my lover in the book, whom I married afterwards) died last August, and I sometimes blog about the grieving journey, because loving in later life also means losing that love at some point.

Besides my blog, I speak about senior sex as well as fitness and I hold workshops at women-friendly sex shops and other venues on sex after fifty, both for women only and for women and men.

Q. What do you think is the most important thing you’ve done to promote your book?

I continued to promote with gusto, regardless of how long the book has been out. The hardest part is getting publicity momentum going. Once it has started, it’s essential to keep it going and keep it interesting to readers.


Anonymous said...

I agree - a lot of businesses think in the age of the web you don't need expert positions, but I still think you do. On the other hand, a lot of professional advice is retainer based. There are places like Publicity Guaranteed which are professional, but charge only per-article-placed. A great option for small biz.

Joan Price said...

I just rediscovered this interview, two years later, and everything I said then is true now. Thank you, Sandy, for helping writers see that it's not about the book, it's about the topic. There's no reason the media should care about your book -- but they do care about how YOU can enrich their publication or show with your knowledge and personality.

Joan Price

Author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty and the upcoming Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex.

Join us -- we're talking about ageless sexuality at http://www.NakedAtOurAge.com

Sandra Beckwith said...

Thanks, Joan! You've reminded me that this is a good link to share with my network again, so I just did.... Thanks for that and for your contribution in the first place -- you were generous and helpful!