If you’re an author, you know how important it is to publicize your book. You’ve told everyone you know about it. You sent notices to your entire mailing list. You’ve submitted announcements to your online groups and forums as well as appropriate newsletters. And you’ve solicited a few online book reviews.
Now you’d like to take publicity to the next level and get media coverage. But do you really have something worth sharing? Will radio and TV hosts be interested in your story? Would magazine and newsletter editors be receptive to your promotional articles? Will newspaper reporters interview you? In other words, are you media-worthy?
You already know that national, international and even local coverage is important to your success as an author. Through media coverage, not only is your book publicized to hundreds or thousands of people, but you will eventually be looked upon as an expert in your field. Each radio/TV interview, magazine articles and newspaper report about your book adds to your credibility. Readers who are interested in your topic are more apt to buy a book by someone they’ve seen or read about and come to know and trust. It is important to your bottom line to be seen, heard and read as often as possible in as many venues as possible.
Choose a Newsworthy Topic
Not every book has media appeal and not every author is media-worthy. What do program directors look for in radio and TV guests? What kind of promotional articles will editors publish? Good media coverage depends on three things;
The slant or presentation.
Your topic must be interesting, timely, entertaining, provocative—in other words, newsworthy. But then if it wasn’t a newsworthy subject, you wouldn’t have written a whole book on the topic, would you? Or would you?
How do you know if the book you want to write is newsworthy? This is something you can find out by writing a book proposal. A well-organized, well-written book proposal will tell you whether or not you have a book at all. A book proposal will reveal whether this is a viable project and the extent of your potential audience. Eliminate this major step and you could end up with a book that no one, including the media, cares about.
A book proposal may cause you to shift gears in midstream and this could be a good thing. It might mean the difference between boxes of books that sit forever in your garage collecting dust and books that fly off of bookstore shelves by the thousands into the hands of eager readers.
In order to attract readers and the media, choose a newsworthy topic, give it a clever angle and prepare an intriguing presentation.
Make Yourself Media-Worthy
Not every author has what it takes to pull off live media. But most of us can acquire the necessary skills. If you want wide media coverage for your book, but you aren’t comfortable in front of microphones and cameras, start training now.
Join a Toastmasters club in your community and participate often.
Seek opportunities to speak in public—take on leadership roles at work, volunteer to speak on behalf of a local cause, head a committee for a charity or join a storytellers group.
Observe other speakers and learn from them.
Read articles and books on public speaking and interview techniques.
Say yes. When you are invited to present awards at the county fair, to speak on behalf of your family at a reunion or to say a few words at your writers’ group gathering, always accept the challenge—work through the fear.
Practice being interviewed. Ask a family member or friend to ask you questions and to help you mold appropriate responses.
How to Get the Media’s Attention
It’s only after you’ve had a lot of media coverage that reporters and program directors start calling you. At least in the beginning, it is up to you or your publicist to get the media’s attention.
1: Come up with a good hook. If you wrote a book proposal with your audience
and the media in mind, you probably already have an angle to pitch. If not, here are some tips:
Tie it into the news. If your book features unique and warm ways to comfort oneself in times of grief and turmoil, focus on a segment of society that needs comforting. This might be military wives or the families of people lost in a particular type of accident, for example.
Make sure that your subject and the angle you’ve chosen are timely. Connect your pitch to a season, an event, a celebration or a holiday. A book on the history of plastic toys might draw a lot of interest around the Christmas holiday. But also watch for the announcement of a new toy, plastic appreciation week, a unique recycling process for plastic, the opening of a new antique store, a story about someone who collects antique toys, etc.
Hit a nerve. Your book on how family caretakers can take care of themselves is needed year around. Just continually come up with provocative hooks such as, “Are we killing our caretakers?” or “How to get out of jury duty and other perks for family caregivers.” or “Caregivers and illness—how to maintain your physical and mental health through it all.”
Make news. I once consulted with an author who wrote a novel featuring a homeless family. I suggested that he attract media attention by starting a charity for the homeless in his area. He could make sandwiches one day a week and serve them to the homeless in the park, arrange for donations to house a homeless family for six months, help dress the homeless for job interviews. Do something newsworthy that’s related to your book and then contact the press.
2: Contact the media. Unfortunately, the media will not generally seek out an unknown author. It takes a lot of media coverage before you will be noticed by reporters from the New York Times or the program director for Oprah. For now, it is up to you to make contact. Once you’ve hit upon a few good hooks, start sending out press releases. Strive for clarity. Be brief. Ask for what you want—an interview or a spot as a guest on a particular show, for example. Give some examples of previous interviews (for print media) and previous appearances (for radio or TV). Locate appropriate editors through www.newspapers.com, www.thepaperboy.com and program directors through Literary Market Place (in the reference section at your library or online for a fee) or The Business Phone Book.
3: Submit articles to magazines. Promote your book and gain credibility by writing informative, educational and entertaining articles for magazines related to your topic. But beware: Editors do not want to see anything that resembles a promotional piece. Avoid touting your book in the article. Your opportunity to promote your book comes through the sharing of your knowledge and expertise and your bio at the bottom of the article. Your bio might read, “Author Name is the director of Caregivers Anonymous and the author of Caregiving: How to Avoid Giving Until it Hurts, available through Amazon.com and www.xxxxxxxx.com.
For specific guidelines for submitting articles to magazines, read, A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles. www.matilijapress.com/writingpage.html
Get Media Attention For Your Novel
Novelists sometimes neglect the media as a promotional opportunity for their books. Yes, even if you write fiction, you can get media publicity. But you must be creative and clever in finding a hook. If yours is a historical novel or one set in an interesting place, for example, you might get interviewed in that place or with regard to the historical event about which you’re writing. I encourage novelists to give one of their characters diabetes, a horse, twins or a husband in the military serving in Iraq, for example. Use these embellishments or circumstances to attract media attention.
The ability to get media coverage is not automatic once you become a published author. You can’t get publicity just by wishing for it. I was recently approached by a man who wanted me to get him some publicity. He was halfway through writing a book and he wanted to build a publicity page for his Web site now. But there wasn’t anything particularly interesting about this man. I spent hours interviewing him in search of something we could expand on and feature. He was writing a book on common grammatical errors found on the Internet, but he had no background in grammar. He was a retired factory worker in a small town and he’d never done much outside of his job or his family. He loved working any kind of word puzzle and he belonged to the Moose Lodge. Other than that, there was next to nothing. Of course, I encouraged him to get out and make some waves—write articles for magazines, newsletters and Web sites related to grammar and word puzzles, launch a puzzle contest, start a newsletter of his own, devise a speech to present at local civic group meetings, start a puzzle club, engage a group of homeschoolers or homeless families in a puzzle-related event, join a club and run for president. In other words, get out and get involved. Then tell the media about it.
Don’t get caught off guard. Even before you start writing that book, start establishing a platform related to the topic of your book. Then, and only then, will you be considered media-worthy.
Patricia Fry is the author of 27 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, 2nd edition, revised, www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html and A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles, www.matilijapress.com/writingpage.html. Check out her new “Author’s Workbook” at www.matilijapress.com/workbook.html Follow her informative writing/publishing blog at www.matilijapres.com/publishingblog