PUBLICITY 101

I am going to give you a quick lesson on the basics of book publicity. I will tell you what you need to know to get people to pay attention to your book. This means important people in the media. Print media editors, freelancers & columnists; producers on radio, tv and podcasts;  bloggers and influential online and social media.

First and foremost you need the proper tools. Or you need to find someone that you can work with who has the proper tools.

THE TOOLS

You need to have good writing skills. This means that you'll need to know how to prepare effective press materials. This usually consists of a press release, a question and answer piece, a biography of the author (you) and sometimes additional items which we can discuss at a later date. * You need to have good verbal communication skills. This helps you when you offer or "pitch" a story to the people in the media. Think before you talk to the media. Make sure your description of your book or your message is short and attention getting. News a people have the shortest time span in the universe!

You need to have a good sense of timing - make sure your pitch or story idea is timely. This means that you should be paying attention to what you see on the news, hear on the radio, or read in newspapers and magazines. Ask yourself, does your book or message fit in to any of the current events in the media? If so, again, think ahead before you talk to media people. Make sure it fits! *You must have knowledge of media- watch the shows you pitch, read the reporters you correspond with don't waste your own and anyone else's time. We already know that news people have short attention spans. Even worse, is pitching a story to them that does not fit into their format.

There are some standard steps that authors and publishers take to get their books noticed by the media. The goal is to have people interested in the book before it's actually available to buy. This is so the news people have plenty of time to review it and decide how to use it in their newspaper column, on the radio, on tv news or online.


Here are some tips to help you get your book noticed:

  • Publishers typically have a temporary book prepared before they actually print the finished book. These are called Advanced Reader's Copies (ARC's) or sometime Galleys. These are usually prepared 4-6 months ahead of the publication date. This is also due to the fact that most magazines and some other media shows work 4-6 months in advance. This means a magazine editor might be working on a story in April for a magazine that comes out in October. Therefore, they want to talk about your book when it is actually news. So, a galley sent in April can be talked about when it comes out in stores on October. Check on the schedule of the magazines and other media that you are sending galleys to to make sure of their schedule or "lead time".

  • Letters should be written summarizing the content or message of your book and WHY it deserves to be written about in a story. The galley letter is really a one page "sales pitch" for your book. Again prepare these letters 4-6 months in advance of publication

  • It is wise to follow up on galleys with an email or a phone call. Find out ahead of time which way the media person likes to be contacted. When you make these calls or send these emails, again, make sure your message is short and to the point. If they like what they hear, offer them whatever additional information or pictures that they might use. These days, most information, photos and artwork is sent via email. My suggestion is to always try and have the cover of your book shown when it is being talked about by the media

  • Be sure to identify the appropriate media to approach for your book. You must first differentiate between TRADE and CONSUMER media. Trade magazines for books include: Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Bookpage, Library Journal, School Library Journal, etc. and consumers magazines are more like the ones you'll find on newsstands or that you subscribe to.

  • Keep abreast of trends being talked about in the media that have to do with your subject matter- find ways to offer yourself or your author as an expert

  • Create relationships with media. Try to pay personal visits if possible.

Let me be your publishing compass!