Author Media Pitch Do’s & Don’ts – Part Three

As an author with a book to promote, you know by now that publicity is important to your success. This article is the third in a series where I’m sharing common author media pitch mistakes—and what to do instead. Over my years working in the media, I’ve seen these mistakes many times. Trust me when… [Read More]

Author media pitch do's & don'ts by Chris Well for BookWorks.com

As an author with a book to promote, you know by now that publicity is important to your success. This article is the third in a series where I’m sharing common author media pitch mistakes—and what to do instead.

Over my years working in the media, I’ve seen these mistakes many times. Trust me when I say that you really want to make a better impression than that.

The Author Media Pitch 7 Deadly Blunders

These aren’t all the ways an author can mess up. But if you can avoid the seven we’ve talked about in this series, you’ll be doing great.Author media pitch do's & don'ts by Chris Well for BookWorks.com

In Part One, we looked at the importance of:

  • Sending your pitch at the right time
  • Sending it to the right person
  • Making that email a personal message

In Part Two, we went over how to:

  • Explain why you’re worth covering (it’s not enough that you have a book)
  • Get to the point so they don’t tune you out before you get to the pitch

In this final installment, I’ll detail two more mistakes you should avoid when pitching the media—and what you can do instead. Speaking as a member of the media, if you follow the advice in this series, you’ll be heads-and-shoulders above others shouting for the attention of these decision makers…

Author PR Mistake #6 - BEING HARD TO REACH

You got in touch. You presented your case.

The good news: We want to schedule an interview!

The bad news: We couldn’t reach you, so we moved on to someone else.

If you want the media to cover you, then media professionals have to be able to get in touch easily. Every point of contact, every email, and every piece of your media materials should include how to contact you.

Make it easy for a reporter or media producer to follow up. We don’t have time for a scavenger hunt. Include several ways to get in touch, so that media contact can get you while the story is fresh in his or her mind.Author media pitch do's & don'ts by Chris Well for BookWorks.com

Be available. It shouldn’t be hard to get a quick quote or schedule an interview. (Especially when we’re responding to something you sent in the first place.) Keep in mind that we’re on a deadline. If you want us to cover you in the media, we need to hear back from you in a timely manner.

If you disappear, I’ll have to move on to someone else. By the time you finally get back to me, I may have already filled that slot with someone else. Your opportunity may be gone.

What contact information did you provide in your author media pitch?

  • Did you include your email address? Check your email inbox regularly and watch for a reply.
  • Did you offer a phone number? Be diligent about checking for messages.

Discover more about how to share your official contact information—and what NOT to share—here.

Author PR Mistake #7 - BEING PUSHY

The media doesn’t work for you. If you want them to give you free publicity, you need to be patient and helpful. If they decide you’re just a pain in the neck, you will never get in front of that audience.

Be Persistent Without Being A Pest

These people get dozens—if not hundreds—of email pitches every week. Yours might fall through the cracks.

If you haven’t heard back in three or four days, it’s OK to follow up. Your second email should include all the information again, so they won’t have to hunt for your previous email.

If you still don’t get a response in another week, you can try a third email. But if you don’t hear back after three emails, then it’s time to try something else.Author media pitch do's & don'ts by Chris Well for BookWorks.com

In my years in the media, those who’ve done publicity best have offered multiple points of entry. So, even though they’re promoting the one thing—a book, an album, an event, whatever—they’re able to come back with different excuses for me to cover them.

Was your initial pitch turned down? Or you never heard back?

Go back in a month or six weeks with a brand-new pitch. Yes, you’re still promoting the same book. But now the topic of conversation—your pitch for an interview, feature, or segment—is a completely different point of entry that leads back to the same book.

When I think of the best publicists who’ve ever pitched me, there is one who stands out because she was able to come back every six weeks or so with a brand-new pitch. At the time, I was editing a music magazine, and she was representing a band. And she’d come back again and again with interesting new ideas, even after we’d already covered them.

Each new pitch was unique—and valid. Over the course of a year, her client might end up in the review section, the news column, get a feature article, and then again in the news column.

When you come back with a brand-new topic, you’re not pestering me. It’s not nagging if you’re starting a new conversation. If I liked your previous pitch but you fell through the cracks, I’ll be glad to hear from you again. If I didn’t like your previous pitch, maybe I’ll like this pitch better.

The key, of course, is that this is a completely different spin.

Let’s say that you wrote a romance novel. The first pitch might be related to the novel’s setting, the second pitch about the character’s relationships, and a third pitch about one character’s career track. You’re promoting the same book, but each of these angles would lead to a completely different segment or feature.

Bonus: If you’re already thinking of all the different points of entry for your book or your topic of expertise, that will make it easier to pitch yourself to more than one media outlet at the same time.

Be Persistent Without Being A Prima Donna

If you get turned down, don’t take it personally. Maybe you got a “no” because of…

  • The timing
  • What else is already on the editorial schedule
  • They don’t see the connection to their audience as clearly as you do

…or any number of other reasons.Author media pitch do's & don'ts by Chris Well for BookWorks.com

For that matter, maybe you got a “yes” and still fell through the cracks. It happens.

Maybe they forgot, or something else came in that took precedence. Maybe something at the production level shuffled the whole issue or episode (and your piece just got shuffled right out).

Remember this: Just because it didn’t work out this time doesn’t mean you can’t come back in a few weeks with a new idea for an interview or topic. And maybe that’s the one that makes it in.

Whatever happens, DO NOT BURN THAT BRIDGE! Being rude will never make them like you better and want to work with you.

And never demand to know why you weren’t included in an article or segment that’s already been published. It’s gone. I can’t do anything about it, you can’t do anything about it. Let it go and focus on the next opportunity.

The only time to raise an objection about an article or episode is when there was an objective mistake. If there needs to be a correction—to a legitimate mistake—then sure, you can bring it up.

But don’t be a jerk because you were expecting something better.

What About Your Author Media Pitch?

Now that we’ve reached the end of this series, you can go back and rethink how you’ve been approaching the media. If you’ve been afraid to try, I hope this list helps you see that it’s within your reach. If you’ve been knocking on doors with no success, maybe our list of dos and don’ts shows what you can do better.


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