If there is one downside to working with a publicist, it’s easily this: cost. Book promotion can be time-consuming, and there is value in a publicist’s time and expertise.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a publicist and decide to do your own book promotion, start by putting together a plan or timeline and select your target media. Finding your target media requires a candid assessment of your book. Who would be interested in reading it? Make lists of potential book buyers—who they are, what magazines, newspapers, blogs, or journals they read, and what radio and television shows they listen to and watch.

Once you have an idea of who your target media is, you need to find them. Media research databases can be a terrific source of information. However, they can also be terrifically expensive. Don’t despair if a yearly subscription to a media research service is cost-prohibitive, as there are plenty of other ways to find media contact information. Visit your favorite bookstore, library, or newsstand and look for magazines, newspapers, and journals that might afford an opportunity for book coverage.

In addition, the internet is a wonderful source of information on specific media. Many websites will include contact information for editors, writers, and staff, and even include guidelines on how to submit news and/or story ideas to them.

How do I contact the media?

Now that you’ve found the media you feel would be interested in your book, it is time to make contact. Making initial contact with a member of the media can be accomplished in several ways. You can meet face-to-face, call them on the phone, write a letter, or send an email. Please do bear in mind that journalists and producers are often working on tight deadlines and may not want the disruption of a phone call. Believe me: you will know if you have caught a journalist at a bad time! On balance, email is less intrusive, as the journalist has the luxury of reading—and responding—at his or her convenience.

If you do prefer to call, be polite. Introduce yourself and ask if this is a good time for them to talk. If not, ask when might be a better time. Be brief. Explain exactly why you are calling, and offer to send more information. Use your discretion, but sometimes a follow-up email thanking the journalist for his or her time, and recapping the conversation, can be useful.

Once you’ve made contact, keep in touch. Following up is crucial. Know that it sometimes takes more than one follow-up to get a response. After initial contact has been made, and you have sent the requested material, follow up in 7-10 days to confirm receipt and offer more information or an interview. If you do not hear back within 7-10 days, follow up again. Be persistent, patient, and polite.


Maryglenn McCombs is an independent book publicist who has worked in the book publishing industry since 1993, and has been involved in the publication and promotion of hundreds of books. A graduate of Vanderbilt University and native of South Central Kentucky, Maryglenn lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Tim Warnock. For more information, visit www.maryglenn.com or email Maryglenn at: maryglenn@maryglenn.com