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.
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.
A media pitch is 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.
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.
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.
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, a pitch is likely 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.
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 and when that happens. Be ready with your list of story angles and publications/outlets listed above. But, don’t let not making the weekly publicity list stop you from trying on your own!