Before we get to the interview, can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself and Pump Up Your Book!.
Hi Kathleen and thank you so much for hosting me today on Pump Up Your Book's 5th Anniversary! I'm Dorothy Thompson, CEO & Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion and social media marketing for authors. We've been in business for five years and it's been a pleasure and a privilege, something I never take for granted in this always changing Internet world. We represent traditional and self-published authors as well, never discriminating between the two. If you'd like to find out more about us, visit http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/.
What made you decide to start your company Pump Up Your Book! Public Relations Agency?
Back in 2007 when I first opened Pump Up Your Book, there were only two individuals/companies offering virtual book tour services. One had decided to go onto other things so that left one service which was quite expensive. That's when I knew there was a need for online book promotion for authors but I wanted to do it less expensively but not scrimp on quality.
I am an author, too - have been since 2003 - so I understood their frustrations. Booksignings were great in their own respect but there had to be a better way to get your book out in front of thousands of people. It's the perfect model. You aim for blogs with high readership, you aim for thousands of people using the search engines each day and you don't even have to get dressed to do it.
What really put the idea in my head was when I had an author actually offer me a hundred bucks to do for her book what I did for my book when I sent it out on tour. I told her I wasn't a publicist but she kept persisting and persisting. Something happened in the production of her book that fell
through but it did put the idea in my head. What I did next was give it more thought. Was I in the right position to take on a project of this magnitude? Did I know how to run my own business? Am I comfortable in my own skin in regards to what I know about book promotion? Yes, yes, yes. We signed up Marilyn Celeste Morris as our first customer and away we went.
When you first started the agency, what were your first goals that you wanted to achieve?
I wanted to do the same thing I was doing for myself, only I wanted to do it ten times better. I went on a virtual book tour first to test out the waters and it was a phenomenal experience. I learned by doing. What we do besides book authors on blogs is concentrate heavily on SEO. So my first goal was to get my authors at the top of the search engines with their key search words. I found this to be very important because when journalist and reporters look for subjects to interview, that's how they find them. Once you figure out your author platform, you concentrate on using your key search words heavily to get the attention of someone interested in the kind of book you have. So whether it's a journalist, reporter, or bookbuyer, your main goal which is our main goal is to make sure the author comes up at the top of the search engines.
Now that the company is celebrating its fifth anniversary, have you achieved your original goals? Have you set new goals for the next five years?
I'm always looking to improve. The next five years will be spent seeking out new and even better ways to promote our authors. As for achieving our original goals, goodness yes we have but it's an ongoing process. It's fun to see your author come up #1 for their key search words after a day or two. I always say a happy author is a happy tour coordinator.
Since Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours is an online company, how do you attract your clients?
We do the same thing for our company as we do for our authors. We concentrate on the key search words so a lot of them come from the search engines. We also have a lot of returning authors and referrals. But the one thing that companies need to realize is that in order to make your company attractive you need to set your goals high and your prices low but not scrimp on quality.
Since eBooks have become so popular, and online book sales are the way to go, how do you promote your clients?
Everything seems to be going to the Internet. We pay bills online, set up companies online and even sell books online. So since this is all online, we aim for the best online strategies to promote our books and that's through communicating with people through social media. If you stopped for a minute and said, "I want to promote this product. Which is the best way to go online?" the first thing I would tell you is set up your presence yesterday. I have authors come through who don't even have websites or blogs and tell me they don't have time for social networking and the only thing I can do is persuade them to get their product out there by taking advantage of the social networks as it's the frontrunner when looking to promote your book to the most amount of people.
When I get a new client, the first thing I do is research them in the search engines. I want to know where they have already appeared and what kind of online presence they have so I can form my own battle plan for them. The second thing I do is set up a reviewer's page for them which is optimized and will serve as a template to what I send to my extensive reviewers' email list. Everyone on my email list has been approved so it's just a matter of whether their genre matches their blog. I also go on blog hunts making sure the potential blogs allow authors on blog tours and the genre matches. I also look for whether they have a full set of archives (which only means they are well situated in the search engines) and update frequently. If they are part of blog hops, that's a hundred point brownie point right there as it tells me they are trying to get more visitors to their site as that's what blog hops are all about. I then check out their reviews. If they are written in two sentences (I have seen this) or the review reads like they didn't even read the book, I go on. Once the tour starts, I have already pre-buzzed the author and now we start working on advertising their stops in the social media.
As one of your blog site hosts for the virtual book tour events that you promote, do you think that the book reviewer blogger community is a powerful and beneficial group?
Oh my goodness yes. You are the backbone of the virtual book tour business. Because of their love of books, book bloggers have become an important part of the book industry. A lot of authors you'll find are asking for high profile bloggers to review their books and what they are finding is that these professional bloggers are booked too far in advance for it to work for virtual book tours which only give the blogger a month or so to read and post the review. And to tell you the truth, book bloggers are more influential. The books they recommend are bought by other book bloggers and their readers. So to say they're powerful and beneficial is an understatement in the highest degree.
Have your clients' novels been successful after having your agency promote their virtual book tour events?
Yes, yes and yes. Some have become Amazon bestsellers and some have gotten in national publications. Here's the thing. When an author signs up to be promoted through a virtual book tour, their online presence increases by 100%. No matter what they have already done on their own, we triple that exposure. So if they want to show up in the search engines at an unbelievable rate, a virtual book tour will do that for them. Some of these authors are also appearing at USA Today, Chicago Times, Forbes, you name it and it's not just their online sites. So now these authors can use that in their byline. Some have gone on to get traditional publishing contracts because the publisher was impressed with how well their book was advertised and how well it sold. One author recently told me that one of the ladies who attended her last booksigning found out about her through a virtual book tour and when she was to appear in town, she was there ready and waiting. There's just no downside to a virtual book tour in terms of success.
Is there a downside or negative side to promoting virtual book tour events?
Wow, good question. There is no negative side to promoting virtual book tour events for me except for the lack of sleep, lol.
Do you think that social media (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc) is the way of the future for the book community (author, publishers, publicists, promoters, book reviewers)?
Right now, yes. You just never know what's going to pop up, that's why I keep an eagle eye out for the latest promoting trend. But social media has become the best thing since marshmallow creme sandwiches. Once an author develops a system of promoting using social media, it really doesn't take all that much time as you think. I've been doing it for so long, I guess I can say that, but you have to develop a system and use it each and every day. I promote my authors in several places including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (and several groups there), Goodreads, Chime.in, Pinterest ... am I leaving anything out?
Do you have anything new that you and your agency are working on that you can share with us?
Our latest thing at Pump Up is the revamped Platinum package which includes a humongous 3 month tour with a Kindle Fire giveaway, incentives for blog hosts and readers, a book trailer and other goodies. You can find out all about this package at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/platinum-publicity-tour/.
I do want to take the time to thank all our wonderful book bloggers who have given up your space on the web for us and given us such high quality reviews. I also want to thank the hundreds of clients who have cyber-walked through these doors who have trusted us to give them the most online presence possible.
Thank you so much for hosting me today, Kathleen, and thank you for being part of our 5 year celebration of online book publicity! To find out how you can win prizes during our month long celebration, visit http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/04/01/pump-up-your-book-5th-year-anniversary-celebration/ and good luck!
Thank you Dorothy for allowing Jersey Girl Book Reviews the opportunity to host a virtual stop on the Pump Up Your Book! 5th anniversary tour! Best wishes on your continued success!
***** GIVEAWAY *****
Dorothy Thompson and Pump Up Your Book are giving away prizes a every stop throughout their month-long publicity tour and I am happy to let you know that you can win a prize on this blog, too! Post a comment below with your name and valid email address to win this cool prize:
A Pump Up Your Book Mouse Pad + $10 Amazon Gift Card!
The winner will be randomly selected utilizing Random.org number generator, and will be notified via email by Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book!
The winner was selected by Random.org number generator. The winner will be notified via email by Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book! Congrats!