Building a Buzz, Part 1

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by Laurie McAndish King

I know I’m supposed to “build a buzz” about my book, but I don’t really understand why, let alone how to do it. That’s because I don’t really understand PR—but I do know that lots of smart, experienced people think it’s important, so I’m going for it.

My first buzz-building endeavor was completely accidental. I was looking at several cover ideas for my book, and decided to send out a simple survey to ask others what they thought. So I signed up for a free account at SurveyMonkey, followed their instructions to create a survey, and linked to it from my Facebook account.

I got immediate responses—instant gratification! I could actually see the responses coming in to SurveyMonkey. I got about 25 responses, including some excellent comments—things I hadn’t anticipated about the way people viewed the cover images.

And I was hooked. Even though one of the designs was preferred by a clear majority of responders, I wanted more responses … more data. So I linked my new Survey Monkey account to my existing MailChimp account. Then I sent out a newsletter (MailChimp calls them “campaigns”) to the people who subscribe to Travel Writers News (an opt-in newsletter I publish) asking those people for their opinions. They are all travel writers and photographers, so I thought it made sense to ask them.

They answered. Their overall preference was the same as the Facebook responders’ overall preference. But the remaining three began changing in priority—like horses in a race—as the responses came in.

I was uber-hooked.

I began trolling my email address book, looking for other people who might not mind giving me a few minutes of their time to help my book along … and I realized I was writing to the very people I would eventually want to know about my book. The very same people I would hope to hear “buzzing” about my book, by some mysterious process. Yet serendipitously, I had begun the buzz process in an organic way, just by communicating with the people who I thought would be interested.

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