Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Hone Your Skills: Publicity 101 with Brian Francis

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Hone Your Skills: Publicity 101 with Brian Francis

Attention aspiring authors! On March 16, Harbourfront Centre is offering a brand-new one-day Publicity 101 workshop for emerging and self-published authors. It will be led by novelist Brian Francis and Random House publicity manager Adria Iwasutiak, who will discuss the tools that can help writers rise above the pack and get noticed, including social and print media, blogging, book clubs and more.

Instructor Brian Francis spoke with Open Book about what participants can expect from the workshop and why a good head shot is so important.

Open Book:

Tell us about your workshop.

Brian Francis:

Publicity 101 is specifically created for emerging and self-published authors trying to navigate the waters of book publicity. Like its predecessor, Editing 101, the workshop is taught from an author’s perspective (mine) and from a publicist’s perspective (Adria’s). The workshop is presented in partnership with Authors at Harbourfront Centre.

OB:

What made you decide to run a workshop?

BF:

Writing is one thing, but publicity, especially for writers with no background in marketing or promotion, is a whole other ballgame. With more and more authors being asked to ramp up their promotional efforts, it’s something that every writer needs to address. When it comes to self-promotion, how much are you willing to do? What does book publicity entail? How can you get the biggest return on your investment?

OB:

The workshop is run by two people. Can you tell us about the structure?

BF:

Similar to Editing 101, I’ll handle the first half of the workshop. Specifically, I’ll be talking about my own publicity experiences as an author, from small presses to big houses. I’ll also talk about the things that worked for me, and most important, the things that didn’t work. Adria will address issues from a publicist’s perspective: what she’s looking for from authors, what she faces day-to-day and what things authors can do if they don’t have a publicist in their corner.

OB:

What skills can participants expect to develop at your workshop?

BF:

Participants will learn how to network, how to navigate social media, how to cultivate an online identity and, ultimately, how to get their books into the hands of readers.

OB:

Tell us about a highlight from a past workshop.

BF:

The year J.K. Rowling took the workshop was certainly a high point. Okay, she didn’t. Truthfully, this is the first year we’re offering the workshop, so I have no past highlights to speak of. But I guarantee I’ll be able to answer this question the next time, whether J.K. shows up or not.

OB:

Can you give us a bit of a preview and tell us one piece of wisdom that you're going to share with your workshop participants?

BF:

Head shots. I’m serious. Too many authors don’t put enough emphasis on getting a good photo, especially when that photo will live in perpetuity on the web. You don’t want to represent yourself with a shadowy, blurry, my-spouse-took-this-on-Christmas-Eve-and-it’s-not-that-bad photo. How you represent yourself is how people will perceive you. Be professional in all instances.


Brian Francis is the author of two critically-acclaimed novels. His most recent, Natural Order, was selected by the Toronto Star, Kobo and Georgia Straight as a "Best Book of 2011." His first novel, Fruit, was a 2009 Canada Reads finalist.

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