We continue our series about creating several angles to talk about your book. This time we'll look at how to create relevant topics by pinpointing the interests of the target audience. (Review Part One on how having a number of discussion starters to promote your book gives you more flexibility than if you’re sitting there with just-one-and-you’re-done.)
Over this series, I’m sharing practical ways you can generate many discussion topics to draw attention to your book. If you try these different methods, you’ll find it much easier to garner media interest for your book in the weeks and months to come.
So let's get down to how to ensure that you're pitching relevant topics that will connect to media audiences...
The Angle Isn’t Your Book
I recently heard from an author who’d pitched a local newspaper about her book—and was distressed when they asked her to pay for them to cover her. The problem, though, started with her original approach: She wanted them to talk about this thing she had to sell.
From the perspective of that newspaper, that’s not a news story. She was no different from someone who wanted them to publish a story about a used car lot.
One big mistake authors often make when approaching the media is failing to explain why they’re newsworthy. It’s not the media’s job to figure out why you’re interesting. And, frankly, they don’t have the time for it.
Connect the dots for them. Do you want to appear in the regular editorial coverage (i.e., the free part)? Offer an angle that’s relevant to their audience.
A relevant pitch will focus on issues that the members of that audience care about. Can you offer an angle that touches on the interests or needs of the audience?
Examples of Relevant Topics and Angles
Stephen King is one of the most famous authors alive. But when The Guardian talked to him about Doctor Sleep, the angle wasn’t actually his book. Instead, the angle of the feature taps into a social problem (alcoholism) and also taps into nostalgia (the legacy of The Shining). Whether or not you care about his latest book, one of these other topics might intrigue you enough to read the interview.
Novelist Amy Sorrells was a guest on the national radio talk show Chris Fabry Live. The conversation was about the opioid crisis and unplanned pregnancies. Once again—the hook for the interview wasn’t the novel itself, but the issues raised in her novel.
When you set out to pitch your relevant topics, there are three different approaches you might take. A pitch can be relevant because…
- It impacts the members of that audience
- Or it’s local to them
- Or it touches on one of their niche interests
Relevant Because It Impacts Them
Your angle looks more newsworthy if you can involve an issue that’s top of mind with that audience. This can mean current issues, or perennial topics like health, finances, or relationships.
In this example, health author Melinda Turner is a local author in this Louisiana news outlet. The topic is time management. So, the audience may not know this author. Maybe they’ve never heard of her book. But when you say, “We’re talking about time management,” now they’re on board.
Relevant Because It’s Local
Stories that happen in our backyard are more significant to us than stories that happen far away. Of course, “local” doesn’t just mean where you’re a local author. You can also pitch a local angle to media outlets in other areas. If you conduct a workshop at a school or speak at an event in their coverage area, that’s local to them.
In this example, poet and hip-hop artist Amillion Mayfield held a poetry workshop for teens in a library that was local to the Delaware State News. The newspaper even sent a photographer to snap a picture.
Relevant Topics for Niche Interests
“Relevance” also can mean the shared interests of the audience. For example, what’s considered newsworthy by a science fiction magazine is different than what would be newsworthy to a magazine about knitting, or about the Old West.
In this example, children’s author Ed Wheatley appeared on St. Louis Public Radio to talk about baseball and how his book can connect different generations. So, even though they’re talking about the book, the conversation is about the themes and impact of the book.
If you’re planning to send a relevant pitch…
—DO find topics that are relevant to the audience. Look for topics they care about—either because they’re interested or because it impacts them.
—DON’T chase topics that won’t help you reach your goals. Your topics should point people toward your book or your author brand. If you hang your hat on a topic that’s not relevant to your brand, there’s no reason for them to follow you back to your website or become part of your audience.
—DO have a pitch that actually relates to that topic or issue. You can’t trick the media—if you claim your pitch is related to a particular issue or topic, then it had better be true. Make sure there is a logical connection between who you are and what you want to share with that audience.
What Are You Going To Do Now?
Looking at the book you’re promoting, can you think of any relevant topics to pitch? Can you offer an angle that touches on what impacts them, is a local angle, or appeals to their niche interests?
Share your examples—or questions—below!
In the next installment if our series, we’re going to look at examples of media angles driven by timely topics. See you next month!