The fastest way to draw attention to your book is to be featured in the media. But getting that kind of book PR can be tough if you don’t understand how to do it correctly.
These past 30-odd years working in the media, I’ve been pitched by a lot of authors who wanted access to my audience. Unfortunately, most authors don’t get how PR works. As a result, they can make a terrible impression and do themselves more harm than good.
Don’t let that discourage you. Piquing the interest of that show, publication, or website is totally within your reach.
This article is the second in a series featuring seven do’s and don’ts for authors who want to leverage media attention to promote their books. In Part One, we talked about the importance of sending your pitch at the right time, to the right person, and making that email a personal message.
In this installment, we’ll look at two more book PR mistakes you must avoid as well as what you can do instead. This will give you an edge over others pushing for the attention of these decision makers!
Book PR Mistake #4 - Failing to Explain *Why* You're Newsworthy
Instead of expecting media producers to figure out why you’re interesting, you should connect the dots for them. Offer an angle or news hook that will grab the attention of their audience. In media parlance, this is known as being “newsworthy.”
Look, I know that your end game is to sell your book. But if your pitch to the media focuses on what you want from them, you’re going to fail. They don’t care what you want.
All that matters to them is to keep that audience coming back for more. If the audience goes away, they lose their jobs.
You want to explain how you can help them keep that audience. Take the focus off your book and turn it on to topics related to your book that they want to know or hear about.
Think about how Steve Jobs would introduce new products from Apple. His presentations weren’t about the products themselves. Instead, he would build a story around customer experiences. As the audience was pulled in, they realized that they had to buy the product to be able to enter into that story themselves.
How can you create a story that’s relevant to your book? Try to craft it around one of these seven criteria:
- Human interest
What do these all mean? Let’s take them one by one…
Is there breaking news or a trending topic related to your book? When the news media are covering an ongoing story, they’re desperate to find experts who can offer a unique slant. If you can find a relevant—and helpful—way to include yourself in these conversations that were going to happen anyway, everybody wins.
Nobody reads, watches, or listens to the media as a favor. That audience showed up to be entertained, educated, or enlightened. Can you offer a topic that touches on the interests or needs of the audience? Keep in mind that what’s considered relevant by one audience isn’t necessarily considered as such by another. (There’s not much crossover between the readership of a craft magazine and a hip-hop magazine.)
Want to take the concept of “relevance” to the next level? Offer an angle that directly affects the members of that audience in a significant way. Can you share a topic or angle that may impact their finances, health, or relationships? If your news hook promises to help the audience lead richer, healthier, better lives, the media wants to know about it.
Folks are always tickled to discover something new or unusual. Just remember that what may seem “unusual” to you won’t necessarily seem unusual to them. For example, you think it’s pretty cool that you published a book—but lots of people have published books. If you want to offer something “rare” in your media pitch, you’re going to have to do better than that.
Folks are always interested in drama. If you can find a relevant angle that includes two or more points of view, that’s a recipe to keep the members of that audience tuned in. Stories with “conflict” can include politics, human rights, religion, the ecology, or any issue or topic that will generate discussion. (Or, well, arguments.)
While most news stories are driven by the facts, “human interest” stories are driven by emotion. These stories include the kinds of pieces you find in a “lifestyle” department, or as the final note of a newscast. They can also be used to put a human face on a bigger story that would otherwise be difficult to relate to. In your case, a “human interest” story might spotlight people who were helped by your book, detail the challenges you went through to become an expert in your field, or share what you overcame to publish your book.
People are more interested in stories that involve people they’ve heard of. Now, just because you aren’t a celebrity yourself doesn’t mean you can’t play this card. If you can pitch a story angle that ties in with somebody prominent, that might be a way to capture the interest of the media. Depending on the particular audience, a “celebrity” may include news personalities, sports figures, politicians, or anyone else who is well-known by the members of that audience.
Need some more help understanding these seven types of being “newsworthy”? I wrote a whole article on the topic here: 7 Essential Ways for Authors to Be Newsworthy (Write Nonfiction Now)
Book PR Mistake #5 - Not Getting to the Point
Do you know how many people want to appear in the media for free instead of paying for an advertisement? ALL OF THEM.
Every week, people who work in the media hear from dozens—sometimes hundreds!—of people who want in front of their audience. At nearly every media outlet, you’ll find staffers overwhelmed by all the people who want their attention.
As such, you want to make sure your media pitch is brief and to the point. No one has the capacity to scroll-scroll-scroll through a lengthy email. Or to flip through all the pages in that thick packet of press materials. Or to listen to that rambling voicemail message.
On the flip side, you can’t be secretive about what you’re proposing. We folks in the media don’t have the time for a lot of back-and-forth to figure out what you’re trying to say.
Your pitch needs to be short and to the point:
- “This is who I am.”
- “This is what I’m pitching.”
- “This is why this is a great fit for your media outlet or your audience.”
Outline your idea for a topic or interview, and why he or she should care. Explain in simple terms how you can make that person’s job easier.
What do I mean by getting to the “point”? Include all the necessary information!
Look for more Do's and Don'ts in the final installment of this series coming next month, and you'll be in a great position to connect with media opportunities for book PR for you and your brand.
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