Books and the Media

Book publicity is using the media to spread the word about a book and/or author hoping for a story, article, or interview. This gives you visibility and hopefully boosts your book sales. There are a few things to think about when pitching the media on behalf of your book.

For both fiction and non-fiction, the following rules apply, however, there are some additional notes about fiction at the end. Don’t underestimate the time required to promote your book. Hitting an editor at the perfect time takes research and a good bit of luck. Follow these general rules when reaching out to the media.

It’s about you

Book publicity is much more about the author than the book. Remember you are the expert. Besides, no one can interview a book. If needed, educate yourself and practice how to give a good interview.

Be Confident

In the blog post, Turning Pro, Chris Fenwick wrote it’s those who are confident who are successful, not the other way around. That is as much true in publicity pitching as anywhere. Remember editors and producers are always in search of new material. They have to fill their pages and airwaves with stories, it might as well be yours. Don’t approach them with your hat in your hand, pleading for a little love. You’re an expert, you know your stuff. You have a great story and you can talk about it. That is exactly what they need and want. It should be a win-win exchange. Even if you don’t get an immediate yes, don’t take it personally. Chances are it was a scheduling conflict. Keep at it and be patient. That ‘no’ could turn into a ‘yes’ at any time.

Know Your Audience

Who are your ideal readers? You should have this answer down. If you don’t, please don’t start pitching to the media. Stop. Go back and figure it out. If you know for sure who your ideal readers are, then you can research the publications and broadcast media they frequent. This is extremely important. Don’t make broad strokes with your pitching brush. Get out the fine-point pen and focus only on those media outlets that cater to your ideal readers. Do the research.

When you reach out, address a specific editor or producer by name and it doesn’t hurt to read their past stories. This shows you took the time to investigate their work and can speak to how it matches with your story. Sunbury Press and Cision can help with this step.

The Pitch

A media pitch is a communication via letter, or more often an email, that states how you and your book would be a perfect fit for their show or publication. It should be short and direct but also persuasive. That means you have to put those writing chops to work and deliver the best pitch you can tailor to their media outlet or schedule. Put your best foot forward. Some authors don’t like to blow their own horn, but this is not the place to be shy. If you can’t bring yourself to write good copy for a media pitch, get someone to help you.

Newsworthy

Another book published is not news. Another self-help, another novel, another memoire isn’t news. In a world of the thirty-second news-cycle, the competition can be brutal. You have to find an angle that is unique and in-fact newsworthy. What is your angle, what is your niche, what is your differentiator, what makes you and your book stand out? If there isn’t something newsworthy in your book, then hold off on pitching the media until an opportunity presents itself. Sometimes a current event or story will pop up in the news that directly relates to your book. That is the moment to pitch. Watch for keywords and phrases that link to your work. For more on fiction’s newsworthiness, see below. Be patient and persistent and don’t give up. When you do land a spot, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.

Fiction

Since fiction is made up, (fake news aside) it’s inherently not newsworthy. That makes pitching fiction much more difficult unless of course, you are JK Rowling or Michelle Obama. But since you’re not, you’ll have to be more creative.

Backstory

What is your book based on? If it’s historical fiction, then to the right media outlet, there is probably a pitch in there. If your murder-mystery is based on an Indian reservation and you did a ton of research about the lack of fair representation for native American’s, then you have a pitch in there. Or, if you read The Hobbit twenty times in a year studying Tolkien’s secrets to writing high fantasy, you might have a pitch there. Or, if your YA story is about teen bullying, there most-likely is a pitch in there.

Make a list of every possible angle you can think of. Why and how did you come up with the story? What was your motivation? Who or what did you research to create the backstory? What part of your own experiences did you draw from? What people, places or things stand out as key elements?

Now think about the media outlets on your list of potentials. How do they match up? Look for correlations and crossovers. Sometimes small-town press gets picked up in larger media outlets. You never know. Don’t expect overnight success or a spot on the nightly news, but don’t give up. Pace yourself, have fun and be creative. You never know what might turn up.

Publicist

Hiring a publicist to assist with your author publicity can be very expensive. Sunbury Press has an in-house publicist using the Cision platform that can reach the 3,000,000+ persons in the media. Every week, we are selecting the best books and authors to promote at that time. We will reach out to you if you make the list. But, don’t let not making the weekly list stop you from trying on your own!

Author Websites

Author Website:

Sunbury Press does not create author websites, nor do we advise on hosting companies, platforms, or designers. We also do not provide technical support for any author websites. However, there are a couple of options listed that new authors can try if they wish.

Having a website is the single most important marketing tool you will own. Don’t skip this!

  • *URL – this is your website address. It is the link that goes at the top of an Internet browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox). For instance, yourName.com, You can also get www.yourbook.com or www.yourbookseriesname.com. You do not have to have multiple URLs or websites. The most important one is your name, pseudonym or pen name as a web address (URL). If you only plan to write one book – ever, then you can use the book title as the URL. But, most writers at least dream of writing more books, so I recommend you go ahead and begin the branding process and get your name as a URL, or some variation thereof. (i.e. www.writerjohnsmith.com)
  • *Hosting and design – this is essentially renting space on the internet. The URL is the address and the hosting is where your website is built. If you need easy and free, you can use Wix.com or Weebly.com. WordPress is another option. If you are not comfortable with technology, get help! Be sure your website looks good and works on mobile devices.
  • *Homepage – this is the first page that comes up on your website. It should have easy navigation to all the other pages, be on brand (your own style and genre). It should showcase your latest book, and always, always have a link to sign up for your newsletter and links to purchase. Don’t make visitors search for these. I recommend you put your newsletter signup in a footer that appears on every page. If you have a logo, or signature look, be sure it at the top of the page.
  • *About – This page is about you. Include an expanded biography, any personal information you are not afraid to share and an author photo. You should NOT list your cell or address and you might not even want to list your personal email address, but at least link to your twitter or your contact page. If you’ve done interviews, and don’t have a separate media page, you can include them here.
  • *Contact page – This page should include a form that allows visitors to get in touch with you. This is scary for some, but authors need to begin a conversation with their audience. Using the form, readers and others who want your attention can write to you. This gives them a way to communicate back to you (conversation) without giving them your personal contact information. Also include on this page, information for the press (if you don’t have a separate media page), links to purchase books for individuals and bookstores, and all social links. Anyone who has a question should be able to find direction on this page. Don’t forget the ever-present Newsletter signup link or form! (For Bookstore orders: “Bookstores can order from Sunbury Press directly at a 40% discount or can order through Ingram. Info at: http://sunburypress.com/wholesale/ )
  • *Books – On this page, you highlight all your books. If you only have one, then you have lots of space. If you have multiple, then make sure your latest book is at the top, include the cover images, descriptions, great reviews, and links to purchase on Sunbury Press, and on Amazon. Also, list that it is available at most bookstores, simply request that they order it from Sunbury Press. Again, don’t make people go search for how to order your book, if they find your website, make sure there are clear links to purchase. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for a review. If you have any videos include them. Here is a good book trailer example: https://www.adrienneyoungbooks.com/sitd

“Available wherever books are sold.” Include Sunbury Press link, B&N link, and Amazon link.

  • *Social Share – This page gives readers who loved your book and what to recommend it to their friends online a quick and easy way to do so. Sunbury Press author, JC Gatlin has a good example: http://jcgatlin.com/share-hangman
  • Press Page – this is the page the press will go to if they are interested in an interview. If you are strictly a fiction writer, you don’t have to create this page, but you can if you see a need. Non-fiction writers should always have it. It is also a direct link you can send to reporters, reviewers, hosts, and bloggers so they have the information they need in one easy (printable) location. I would put the information on this page and also create a pdf that can be downloaded. Include:
    • Your name
    • Your headshot
    • Your short biography
    • Your book description
    • Any great reviews
    • A few sample interview questions
    • Your contact information
    • Your latest press releases
  • *Blog – I highly recommend you write at least a monthly blog that adds content to your site and gives you content for your monthly newsletter. Remember write about things that will interest your ideal readers. Every time you release a new book, you should be writing blogs about the characters, settings, time periods and anything else that could be of interest. When you are about to release a new book, begin writing teasers to build interest. There will be another article later offering more blog ideas.
  • Events – if you are doing a book tour or have a bunch of events lined up, you can create a separate page for these. If you don’t have too many, you can include this information on your contact page and/or your bio page. Don’t be afraid to repeat some information.
  • FAQ – If you have a body of work around a genre, you might be getting the same questions again and again from your readers. To help, create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. Simply write out the questions and answers for all to see.

If you get this all up and running, you’re off to a great start. The bullets above with the *, should be the minimum. We’ll put out more examples as we find them, but for now, this should get you moving forward.

A few comprehensive sites:

Fiction: https://elizabethchadwick.com, https://bradthor.com/

Non-fiction: https://www.ynharari.com/ , https://www.jensincero.com/

Matter Document Specs

Front and Back Matter:

Please read carefully. Put all this in a document and title it: Author_Name –Title – Matter (except for images – see below)

  1. Book title and Series title (with book number in the series) if there is one. Please note, these cannot be changed after we register the books. If you have not settled upon the book or series title, it is time to do so now.
  1. 250-word description – think of this as the back cover copy.
  1. 350 characters (not word count) description – this is a short summary used in catalogs.
  1. 3 BISAC categories (https://bisg.org/page/Fiction or https://bisg.org/page/YAFiction) It is okay to mix if you think your book crosses over.
  1. List of other books you have published, please include the publishing house. (i.e. Moby Dick, Dover Publications)
  1. 5 or more keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) These should not include your name or title of the book, or series as these are already included. List locations, topics, genres, etc.
  1. Author hi-res (300 DPI) photo. Photos should be of you only, no family pictures or scenery photos. They should look professional, even if they are not professionally taken.
  1. Author Bio. We prefer no longer than 4 paragraphs (250 words of less). Your photo and bio should all fit on one page.
  1. Author website address. If you don’t have the URL yet, please get it now. If you are only ever writing one book, you can use your book title if available. However, if you intend to write multiple books, we recommend you get your name or some variation of it as your website URL (address). If you already have a website, great. Just sent a link.
  1. Social Media. If you have any professional social media accounts, include those links. If you don’t have those yet, you can send us an update of this file later. Also, if you already have a social share page on your site, include the link to that page. If you don’t have one yet, just update us later. (more info on social media and social share pages on our blog)
  1. List 3 Comp (comparable) Authors: Popular authors who your readers would say your book is similar in genre and style. Include how your book is like thiers. For instance, for my books, I would list:
    1. Patricia Brigg – urban fantasy/shapeshifting romance
    2. Naomi Novik – Mythology and Folktales
    3. Samantha Shannon – LGBT fantasy and coming of age story

You can use Amazon or GoodReads to help you find authors and genres but hopefully, you’ve read some of these books. In Amazon, go down to the Product Details on the book page and see what categories your comp author’s books are listed in.

  1. Blurbs – If you already have blurbs from other authors or reviewers, please include them. If not, don’t worry, you can always update this later with more.
  2. Acknowledgments (if any, and not already included in the manuscript)
  3. Prologue and Epilogue (please include these with your manuscript and NOT here)
  4. Dedications (if any or not already included in the manuscript)
  5. Ideas for the cover. We don’t need graphics or mock-ups, Sunbury Press will create a professional cover for your book. But a list of ideas, or other comparable book covers is always helpful. If this book is part of a series, it is important that we tie together the look of the series, that begins now.
  6. Illustrations, Images, and maps as needed. (please also include permissions/credit) All interior graphics are in B&W unless otherwise agreed.  Include a separate sheet with the captions. Align the captions with your images via numbers (xx).

Please be sure to send images as high-quality (300dpi) attachments and name each: Author_Name – Book Title – xx Image name. Send images as attachments. Please do not include images in the body of the document or email.

All Sunbury Press fiction titles are 6×9, paperback. Non-fiction sizes and covers vary.

William Marcum’s “The Foreman’s Boys” tops as the Sunbury Press bestseller for August

William Marcum’s “The Foreman’s Boys” tops as the Sunbury Press bestseller for August

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for August 2019 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 8 The Foreman’s Boys William Marcum History
2 1 The Last Ride of the Iron Horse Dan Joseph Baseball
3 Dead Center Jason Altmire Politics
4 13 Undoing Jane Doe Kristen Cunnane Abuse Memoir
5 26 Chicken Bone Beach Cheryl Brooks History
6 25 Holocaust’s Child Amy & William Blocher History
7 15 Well-behaved Taverns Seldom Make History Diane McCormick History
8 NEW My War and Welcome to It Tom Copeland Military Memoir
9 9 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, 2nd Ed. Mike Campbell History
10 3 Baseball Under the Palms Sam Zygner Baseball
11 16 Raising Monarchs Sue McGovern Nature
12 22 Call Sign Dracula Joe Fair Military Memoir
13 Jack the Ripper Suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety Michael Hawley History
14 12 The 1932 Yankees Ronald Auguster Baseball
15 7 American Citizen Ben E Myers Biography
16 5 What Springs of Rain Lindsey Lough Nature Photography
17 NEW Conrad Weiser: Pennsylvania Peacemaker Arthur Graeff Biography
18 Tulpehocken Trail Traces Steve Troutman History
19 2 Bandstandland Larry Lehmer History
20 There Is Something About Rough and Ready Knorr, Troutman, et al History
21 19 Fifty Years in a Foxhole Charles Kniffen Military Memoir
22 17 Freemasons at Gettysburg Sheldon Munn History
23 6 Gettysburg Eddie Lawrence Knorr Baseball
24 14 I Made a Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It? Clarissa Jacobson Self-Help
25 Captain Hooter’s Connoisseurs Guide to Amsterdam Coffeeshops Captain Hooter Travel
26 The Most Hated Man in America Mark Pendergrast True Crime
27 29 Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania George Donehoo History
28 The Lost Island of Columbus Keith Pickering History
29 Keystone Corruption Continued Brad Bumsted Politics
30 30 The Marines’ Lost Squadron Mark Carlson History
Maryka Biaggio’s “Eden Waits” tops Milford House Press bestsellers for August

Maryka Biaggio’s “Eden Waits” tops Milford House Press bestsellers for August

MILFORD HOUSE PRESS – Bestsellers for August 2019 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Eden Waits Maryka Biaggio Historical
2 NEW The Road to Lattimer Virginia Rafferty Historical
3 NEW Things Strangled J M West Detective Thriller
4 1 The B Team Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
5 The Sign of the Eagle Jess Steven Hughes Historical
6 NEW Ordinary Angels John Micek Detective Thriller
7 NEW Tough Girl in the Jam Larry Loebell Sports Fiction
8 The Wolf of Britannia Part I Jess Steven Hughes Historical
9 The Peacekeeper Jess Steven Hughes Historical
10 NEW Summer Squall Sarah Jones Women’s Fiction
11 6 Magic Diary Pat LaMarche Historical YA
12 4 The Ghosts of Saratoga Ossont & Dampf Historical YA
13 12 The Vatican’s Vault Barry Libin Detective Thriller
14 8 Purpose of Evasion JA Walsh Espionage Thriller
15 Shadows in the Shining City John Cressler Historical
16 The Closer Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
17 The Broken Lance Jess Steven Hughes Historical
18 Fortune’s Lament John Cressler Historical
19 17 Sentenced to Shakespeare Iris Dorbian YA Fiction
20 16 Emeralds of the Alhambra John Cressler Historical
21 The Wolf of Britannia Part II Jess Steven Hughes Historical
22 22 Winter of the Metal People Dennis Herrick Historical
23 15 Breck’s Quandary Mark Mitten Crime Thriller
24 Dead of Spring Sherry Knowlton Murder Mystery
25 18 Dead of Winter Sherry Knowlton Murder Mystery
Mike Hawley takes the top spot at Hellbender Books / Verboten Books for August with “The Ripper’s Hellbroth”

Mike Hawley takes the top spot at Hellbender Books / Verboten Books for August with “The Ripper’s Hellbroth”

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for August 2019 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 The Ripper’s Hellbroth Michael Hawley Psychological Thriller
2 3 Keeper of the Crows Kyle Romines Horror
3 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
4 5 The Cursed Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
5 2 The Lurking Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller
Jon Root’s “Heart-Sparking Perfomance” is the Ars Metaphysica bestseller for August

Jon Root’s “Heart-Sparking Perfomance” is the Ars Metaphysica bestseller for August

ARS METAPHYSICA – Bestsellers for August 2019 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Heart-Sparking Perfomance Jon Root Self-Help
2 NEW Three Supreme Gifts Lisa Hromada Spirituality
3 NEW Love Is the Seed Lisa Hromada Spirituality
4 2 The ABCs of Narcissism Michelle Hoffer Self-Help
5 Soaring Minds Journal and Workbook Michelle Hoffer Self-Help
6 4 Voice of the Red Dragonfly Jennifer Charlinski Metaphysical Fiction
7 5 Living in the Afterlife Michele Livingston Metaphysical
8 The Dream Alchemist Anna-Karin Bjorklund Metaphysical
9 10 Der Lange Verborgene Freund JG Hohman Folk Magic
10 6 Messages from Beyond Michele Livingston Metaphysical
Gerri Almand’s “The Reluctant RV Wife” is the Brown Posey Press bestseller for August

Gerri Almand’s “The Reluctant RV Wife” is the Brown Posey Press bestseller for August

BROWN POSEY PRESS – Bestsellers for August 2019 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW The Reluctant RV Wife Gerri Almand Travel Memoir
2 1 The Indigo Scarf PJ Piccirillo Literary Fiction
3 2 You Are Not Alone Jyssica Schwartz Abuse Memoir
4 Whispers in the Alders HA Callum Literary Fiction
5 5 The Search for Roy Buchanan Tory Gates YA Adventure
Lancione and Haney’s “Solomon Screech Owl’s Asian Antics” is the Speckled Egg Press bestseller for August

Lancione and Haney’s “Solomon Screech Owl’s Asian Antics” is the Speckled Egg Press bestseller for August

SPECKLED EGG PRESS – Bestsellers for August 2019 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 1 Solomon Screech Owl’s Asian Antics Beth Lancione & Kathy Haney Juvenile Adventure
2 Pink Flamingos All Around Matthew Anderson Juvenile Nature
3 Solomon Screech Owl’s First Flight Beth Lancione & Kathy Haney Juvenile Adventure
4 Solomon Screech Owl Goes to the Galapagos Beth Lancione & Kathy Haney Juvenile Adventure
5 Solomon Screech Owl’s Antarctic Adventure Beth Lancione & Kathy Haney Juvenile Adventure

Turning Pro

“Turning Pro” as a writer
I can’t believe it is the end of summer and kids are getting ready to go back to school while others have already started. As I sit at my desk, juggling new books at various stages of completion and publication, I’m excited to take time out to discuss book marketing.
I had a conversation with an author last week and she described how she felt like peddling her own books felt a little like a ‘snake-oil salesman.’ Don’t judge, I know many of you feel this way and I commend her for the courage to say so. In this latest edition of Book Marketing, we’re going to talk about what it means to be a professional writer and how to talk about yourself and your work.
The truth is, being a professional writer isn’t that much different from being a professional at any other type of business or vocation. In the book, Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield discusses the differences from being an amateur and turning professional. If you haven’t read Steven’s work. I highly recommend both The War of Art and Turning Pro.
The first sign that you are beginning to think like a professional author is when someone asks you, “what do you do?” and you can immediately respond, “I am a writer.” When asked what you write, you have no difficulty launching into the ‘ins and outs’ of your latest manuscript. Just like your day job or your past line of work, you can rattle off your title, area of expertise, and the company’s focus at the drop of a hat.
More signs of Turning Pro as a writer: you have business cards made where your profession is stated as ‘writer’ or ‘novelist.’ You have a website in your branded name. You are taking classes, reading books, and/or generally always looking for ways to improve your craft, as well as your latest book. You have a copy and have ready Dreyer’s English. Your Pinterest boards are full of blogs on things like, ‘the master list of physical descriptions,’ or ‘how to write a killer plot twist,’ or ‘Stephen King’s Tips for Writers.’
Educating yourself about your craft and the business of writing should be a full-time endeavor. If you have a day job, you’re expected to put in a certain number of hours and level of dedication to keep it and receive the paycheck. Why would being a writer be any different? Part of the business of writing is selling books. So, you have to learn how to talk to others about your work. Artists often have difficulty with this part of the job. No one wants to convince others that their art is worthy of the dollars charged and therefore, we have a whole subculture of ‘starving artists’ who are always needing the generosity of others to survive. This is because they just don’t have confidence in their work. It’s an identity, a vocation, and a mindset.
The underlying reason writers don’t do well is lack of commitment which breads lack of confidence. How can you be confident if you are a first-time writer? Maybe this isn’t your first book, but your other books didn’t sell so well. It’s hard, no doubt. But as in every profession in the world, it is the confident ones who are successful, not the other way around. If you are not confident enough in your book or yourself as a writer, then buckle down and learn what you’re missing. Get help. Because if you’re a Pro and you’re confident in your work, you won’t feel like you’re selling someone something substandard. You’ll want to share the work you are committed to and excites you. Ultimately, you have to decide your work is good enough for the intended audience.
Intended audience? That’s another issue. Many authors get a bad review and all of a sudden they feel like their work is not good enough and their confidence dives. When, in reality, maybe they weren’t the right audience for your book. (for more on this: http://sunburypress.com/finding-your-fans-they-do-exist/) If, you believe your work is the best it can be and you are driven to write it, and you enjoy writing it, then keep at it. Improve. Write another. It’s hard not to talk about something you’re that committed to. A Pro will own it, wear it, and share it. And that has nothing to do with whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. If you have trouble talking to people you don’t know, start with people you do know and practice until it’s easier.
Okay, so you know your audience. You are improving. You are a Pro and your confidence is high, but you still don’t know how to talk about your latest book. Did you write about something you are passionate about? Did you spend a lot of time researching and fretting over your subject? Do you care about your characters? Are they interesting? The answers to these questions should obviously be ‘yes’ and if that is the case, you should be able to talk about them. I was driving my mother to the beach to visit her sister the other day, and, by the way, – she is not my target audience, but I had no problem regaling her for over an hour on Irish mythology which is the backdrop to my latest book series. Now maybe she had to act interested, she is my mother after all, but I think she was actually intrigued. The point is, I’ve devoted countless hours to these books and I’m not afraid to talk about them with anyone who shows even a little interest. Don’t talk around your work, dive in. Pick one aspect that is particularly exciting or challenging and chat it up. If people are interested, they’ll ask questions. And then you’ll see it’s not so hard.
So, maybe some of you don’t have any issues with talking about your work, but you still haven’t seen your book sales climb high enough to satisfy. I recommend you ask! Talk to some of your intended audience and ask questions. What did they like? Did they have any feelings of dissatisfaction with the story or the premise? Who was their favorite character, or least favorite? Put together a list of five or six questions. Then listen to the answers for clues on how to improve. Don’t ask critics and don’t ask people who aren’t your intended audience. There are people out there who will search for something on which to criticize, that won’t be useful. Stay in the safety zone, but then ask for feedback. If they loved it, ask them if they would write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Ask them if they would share it on whatever social media platforms they use (make it easy for them, give them graphics and links. More on this to come.) Ask them to recommend it to their friends. If sales are low, you might not be asking enough. If they didn’t love it, your questions will change.
So, don’t talk around, dive in. Don’t sell, share. You are sharing what is important to you, who you are and what turns you on. Turn Pro, it’s scary but worth it.