Your book is publishing in 2018. NOW is the time to let people know about it. But now that you have spent all this time writing and perfecting it, how do you get your book the media coverage it deserves?
First, it is important to set some realistic expectations.
I work with authors (indie, hybrid, and traditional) every day who, with one book out—no blog or social network—expect to start a family legacy on the sales of that book. While that is an awesome goal, it just isn’t a realistic expectation. Everyone wants the feature in The New York Times Book Review and the listing on Oprah’s book list. These placements are hard to come by and, most of the time, reserved for established authors with huge fan bases.
However, getting your book covered in print, online, and radio can certainly help build your brand as an author, which, in turn, grows your fan base and is a necessary step to take for becoming a New York Times Best Selling author.
For this article, we will focus on helpful tips used to assemble a media list to pitch for reviews, features, and book announcement spotlights.
Assess Your Target Audience
It is important to selectively target the media of most relevance to your book. Media contacts to focus on may include journalists, reporters, bloggers, producers, freelance writers, and editors across print, online, blogs, radio, and television.
The first thing you need to decide when creating your media list is who your target audience is and how best to reach them. As mentioned, the spots in PEOPLE, NY Times, and Entertainment Weekly book reviews and roundups are wonderful, but they are pie in the sky dreams for many authors, as there are thousands of books published every week that are vying for those one or two spots.
Instead, I recommend focusing on niche publications that pertain to the book focus. Some examples: if the book has a caregiver slant, try Caregiver Solutions; if it is written for the LGBT community, try The Advocate; if it is written for an older audience, try AARP.
Research what your target reader is interested in and how they prefer to consume information, including via blogs, websites, TV programs, newspapers, or magazines.
For instance, if your book is written with a target audience that is mostly older women, you would look at directing your media pitches to women’s magazines that write for that demographic, as well as outlets that focus on baby boomers and the 50-plus reader.
Research Media Outlets
It is important to conduct research into relevant media outlets, including what topics they cover, the medium (online, radio, etc.), and the readership or audience size. You can add top-tier media book editors here. Just make sure you research how it is best to reach them, if they prefer printed copies, or if a digital copy will suffice.
It is also important to take note of the frequency the media outlets publish or produce new content. For instance, a blog may publish posts daily but a magazine will often publish monthly and have deadlines that are several months before your publication date.
Understanding the editorial calendar and the deadlines of the media you’re targeting will give your story the best chance of securing a spot.
Tips: Use Google to search for comparative titles to your book and see who wrote about those books. Also, don’t forget about your local media. Many are looking for stories and are almost always interested in hearing from local authors.
Find the Right Contact
When creating a media list, it is important to find the best person to contact from the media outlet. This person should have responsibility for or an interest in the topic of your story.
For instance, if you are looking to send a media pitch to Woman’s Day, you would need to find the journalist who covers the particular section that you are interested in. It could be the book editor, but it could also be the online digital editor.
Look at articles written about your topic in your target publications and note the journalists who wrote these stories. It is also helpful to look at the job titles of journalists, producers, and reporters.
Tip: Don’t settle for sending to the email address for general inquiries. Many times these don’t get to the right person. Instead, drill down in your research to find the most appropriate editor. If there are several people at the same media outlet that look like they might cover your book based on the research you have done, only contact one at a time, as they may feel that you are spamming them.
To find media contact details, you can visit the media outlet’s website, where they may list staff email addresses and phone numbers, or call the publication directly for information. You can also subscribe to a media database service; many publicists have access to these, but they are quite expensive. You can just as easily do this research on your own at each publication’s website.
Tip: Look for book editors, but also look for editorial assistants and staff editors that focus on a topic relevant to your book. An editor-in-chief is not a good contact for you, as they are working on the overall strategy and business end of the magazine and not usually developing content.
Organize & Update Your Data
It is important to organize your media list into a database, such as an Excel spreadsheet, with separate columns for the name of the media outlet, contact person, job title, email address and phone number, any pitching notes, and links to other articles of relevance that they have written.
Tip: Referencing other works that your editor has recently produced in your pitches is a good way to show them that you have done your research and care to send them proper information for their upcoming work, rather than blasting everyone under the sun that covers books with a standard pitch.
Media contacts often change roles or move into a different area of expertise, so it is important to keep that research machine going and update changes to media contacts in your list.
Having a well-researched, up-to-date, and organized media list is a critical step when looking to engage and gain media coverage for your book and is a key component to your publicity campaign. Happy pitching!
TABITHA BAILEY is part of the BookSparks PR team. She works with authors on individually tailored PR campaigns to increase awareness for new books. Learn more about the BookSparks team at www.gobooksparks.com .