Regnery has always thrived on controversy and hype that has grabbed headlines and sometimes changed history. A prime example: “Unfit for Command”—by the notorious Swift Boaters—very likely cost John Kerry the presidency in 2004.
What are the secrets of launching a best seller? And how can you make these PR and publicity techniques work for you when launching a non-book product or service?
The Wholesale and Retail Phases
Plan your campaign as meticulously as General Dwight Eisenhower and the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) commanders planned D-Day, the invasion of France, June 6, 1944.
In the case of launching a book, everything leading up to the “Pub-Date” is the wholesale phase of the campaign. Printed books must be at the sales venues—online and bricks-and-mortar stores—ready to ship and be physically pawed over and bought by customers.
During this wholesale phase, advance copies of the new title must be put in the hands of the right reviewers and influencers, giving them time to read and reflect on it. Author appearances must be booked, e-mail addresses assembled and readied for the big e-blasts, and press releases written and printed (if to be delivered by snail-mail).
As with D-Day, the Pub-Date is the commencement of the retail phase when the public is bombarded from every possible direction with news and sales pitches for the product—the Blitzkrieg.
Remember the late Ed Mayer’s formula for direct mail success: 40% lists, 40% offer and 20% everything else. This holds for PR and publicity as well as direct marketing. A sample sent to the wrong influencer is a dead loss.
1. Pick the right book in the first place
Regnery publishes relatively few titles, so it can concentrate on marketing each product with great precision and care. Before a book is accepted for publication, it must get over many hurdles and satisfy a lot of different criteria:
—Unique, fun, shocking, appalling
—Controversial: creates buzz, anger, discussion, debate
—If it is not entertaining, you will have a tough sell