Publicity is one of the best ways to get the word out about your book. That’s why authors and publishers invest countless hours and dollars in an effort to get themselves noticed by the media. Many authors write a press release about their book, sit back, and then wonder why nothing happens.
Unfortunately, getting media coverage often requires more than just a press release. You are competing with an unbelievable number of other releases for coverage every single day. You usually won’t score an interview or article simply because you’re an expert or because you sent out one press release. Many people gain press coverage by giving the media what they really want: news their audience cares about. In other words, the easier you can make a reporter or producer’s job, the more likely you are to get the press to mention your book or your business. Here are a few tips:
1. Keep up with news on your topic. One tried and true way to get noticed by the press is to link your story to current events. News is not about things that are unchanged or that didn’t happen. In other words, you don’t see articles with headlines like “No Freeway Accidents Today.” Newsworthy topics recount events, changes, or other things that affect people’s lives. An easy way to keep up with news on your topic is to create a Google alert for specific terms or phrases. Go to http://news.google.com, click the News Alerts link and follow the steps.
2. Develop a “pitch” or “hook” for the story. A pitch or news hook is simply a story idea. As noted, reporters are busy. If you can do the reporter’s job for him, you might just get coverage. Think of a pitch as if it were a tiny book proposal. You need to understand the audience for the story and how it will appeal to their needs. Obviously the pitch for a technology industry newsletter is different than one for a women’s magazine. First find the media outlets and reporters you want to target. Then craft a short, pithy pitch that makes the reporter think, “wow that would be a great article!” Unlike a press release, which announces news or events, a pitch letter is more personal and is addressed to a specific reporter or writer.
3. Be prepared for the media. When you successfully get someone’s attention, you need to be ready. Create a good website with high-resolution headshots and a book cover. You never want say something like, “gee my web site is under construction and I haven’t had a chance to get a photo done yet.”
Again, it’s all about making the reporter’s job easy. Put your high-res photos of yourself and your book cover online, so you can just give the reporter a link. Most people won’t open unsolicited attachments, so don’t send a bunch of stuff until you are asked, or odds are good it just become be a victim of the Delete key.
Always remember that you are the expert and the media needs you. If you are asked to do an interview, write out your points in advance, so you don’t fumble around trying to find your topic again. If you are prepared and confident, you may be rewarded with great exposure that leads to more book sales.