New BookWorks member, Chris Well of Build Your Brand Academy, graciously offered to share his expertise as a 30+ year media veteran, to help authors connect with media opportunities. Thanks, Chris!
In today's publishing landscape, it's tougher than ever for authors to be discovered. There are so many books competing for those potential readers. That's why free media attention can boost your visibility.
Once you’ve set up your author website and updated your social media profiles, one of the most effective ways to rise above the noise is to convince an influencer in the media to put you in front of their audience. That puts your name—and your book—in front of far more potential readers than you can possibly reach yourself.When you appear in the media, you can leverage their platform to build your platform.
Too many authors assume they have no chance of getting attention from media outlets. Speaking as a 30+ year media professional, I can tell you from experience that whether an author represents herself or himself is not a problem. An author with the right mindset can pitch to the media and be taken seriously.
It’s true that a smart publicist can help you navigate that process more easily. But many authors simply can’t afford to hire a publicist. For others, the prospect of finding the right publicist (not just anyone will do) is too overwhelming.
However, not having a publicist doesn’t disqualify you from media coverage. You are as eligible as any author. This is true no matter what you write about, and no matter your publication status.
Here are nine reasons that ANY author can get media attention:
1 - Media Attention Is FREE
Real publicity doesn’t cost anything. When you’re included in the regular editorial content (an interview, a review, a feature story), that’s free.
If you pay for it, then it becomes “advertising.” Or it might be what’s called an “advertorial”—which may be packaged to resemble editorial—but that’s also not publicity.
Getting media attention is as simple as sending the right email to the right person and being scheduled for an interview. And that is free.
2 - Media Attention Is Easier Than You Think
During my years working in the media, I’ve been pitched by all sorts of people who wanted access to my audience. This includes folks at record labels, comedy clubs, film studios, sports franchises, and book publishers.
The most successful pitches weren’t necessarily those that were flashy. What makes me put someone in front of my audience is an interesting angle that my audience will care about.
All that matters is whether your feature or segment will entertain, enlighten, or educate my audience. If that media pro believes that your topic can keep their audience engaged—watching, listening, or reading—then you're in.
3 - You Can Do This Yourself
Influencers are easy to find. In today's world, it's easier than ever to make connections. Through a simple Google search, you can find websites, email addresses, and social media accounts.
Influencers are easy to contact. Once you know how to reach them, it’s as simple as a cordial message and a click to send.
Publicity materials are easy to make. If you have a word processing program and can save your documents as PDFs, you have nearly everything you need to create your media kit materials.
With the right email to the right person, any independent author can get scheduled for an interview with the media.
4 - Interviews Can Be Done By Phone Or Online
With modern technology, you can be interviewed from—and by anyone from—pretty much anywhere in the world. Most interviews these days are conducted through email, over the phone, or online.
If it’s a text media outlet, that interviewer will probably email questions to you. Even when interviewers do want audio or video, it’s usually because they want a transcript. In those cases, it doesn’t matter (as much) how you’re dressed or how you sound on the phone.
These days, even audio and video interviews don’t necessarily require you to go to the studio. In many cases, you can be interviewed while sitting at home. (Of course, if you’re on the mic or on camera, then you do want to take care how you’re dressed and how you sound.)
5 - You Don't Have To Be Famous
Sure, a celebrity has an edge over us mere mortals. But media producers care even more about engaging stories that will hold the attention of the audience. That’s why non-famous people show up in the media all the time.
There are seven criteria that determine whether a feature or segment idea is “newsworthy”:
- Impact or Consequence
- Novelty or Rarity
- Human Interest
(Notice that only one of them requires a “celebrity.”)
Famous or not, the person is never the focus of the story. The focus is on a topic or event. If you have an angle that will keep the interest of the audience, the media wants to know about it.
6 - Every Type Of Author Has A Shot
You also don’t need to have a bestseller. Any kind of author with any kind of book is eligible for coverage from print, broadcast and digital media. It’s all in how you present yourself.
The next time you’re standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, take a look at the magazine rack. The cover lines have one job: Convince you to flip open the magazine. They promise you the answers to secrets, gossip about someone’s private life, and tips to be healthier, wealthier, and/or wise.
The text almost never proclaims, “Here’s a product that exists!” They’re always focused on topics and story angles that will make that audience turn the pages.
Now, let’s look at your book: No matter the primary topic in your book, there are likely to be a few different discussion starters in there. It will especially help if these discussions relate to finances, relationships, health, or issues of public interest.
But what if your book’s topic doesn’t lend itself to an easy discussion starter? Dig a little deeper. There are discussion starters in there somewhere.
7 - You Don't Need A Brand New Book
You have a narrow window to call your book “new”—a few weeks at best. But you need to generate interest from potential readers all year round, right?
That’s why this is so important: You are more than your book.
- You’re an expert.
- You’re a teacher.
- You’re a philosopher.
- You’re an authority in your category or topic or genre.
As such, your pitch to the media should focus on what you can share with that audience as an expert. When the pitch leads with the topic—and not with the book—then it doesn’t matter how old the book is. All that matters is whether the topic you're pitching is current.
8 - You Don't Need A Book At All
Still working on your manuscript? Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you published your book to start working on your author platform.
Seth Godin said it this way: “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you'll need later.”
Build your author platform before you need it. You don’t have to wait until you've published the book to begin reaching out to the media–especially since the focus of your media pitch shouldn’t be the book itself, but on your area of expertise.
9 - The Media Is Always Hungry
Media creators are always working on whatever comes next—the next episode, next issue, next update. All of those need new content.
The media always needs something new to share with their listeners, their viewers, their readers. As such, they are always thinking about what else they need to keep pushing content down the lines for that next edition.
They are continually making editorial plans into the future. This gives you a real opportunity—well, several opportunities, actually. If you miss the train this time, there’s always another one coming.
And as long as they’re in business, that editorial cycle is never ending. When you can make a case that you’d fit into their editorial needs, the more likely you can get a spot on their schedule.
What Are You Waiting For?
Are you an author who’s desperate to share what you have with the world? There's never been a better time to access the power of publicity. It’s simple to do, it builds your credibility, and it protects your author platform from changes at places like Amazon and Facebook.
Remember: With the right email to the right person, anyone can contact the media and get set up with a guest interview.
If you’d like my help writing your email pitch to a member of the media, I invite you to take the 5-Day Author Interview Challenge. In this free email course, I break down the process into simple steps that can be done in a few minutes a day. At the end of the challenge, you’ll have an email that’s ready to send to someone in the media inviting them to interview you.
Ready to leverage the power of the media to build your author platform? Join me in the 5-Day Author Interview Challenge. Click HERE to enroll!
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