Welcome back to our series about creating many pitch angles to drive media interest. In each installment, I’m outlining how to generate several discussion topics to draw attention to your book. In this post, I'm going to focus on choosing a timely media topic to pitch.
(Missed one of the previous articles? Check out Part One to find out why having a number of discussion starters to promote your book gives you more flexibility. Then read Part Two to find some practical examples of how to create relevant story angles.)
As has come up in this column before (many times), the media doesn’t want to hear about your book. They want ideas for a feature or segment that will intrigue their audience enough to stick around.
Now, let's look at how wrapping your book inside a timely story pitch can make you more attractive to media outlets.
What’s a Timely Media Topic?
Timely stories are those topics that are in the public consciousness right now. Today’s 24/7 news cycle requires that media outlets pump out updates over and over. When they run out of their own ideas, they’re desperate for any new spin that will keep things fresh.
That’s where you come in. Those outlets are on the hunt for experts to comment on that story.
Even if your book is several months old, your angle can be current. When you can offer relevant commentary that will add your unique perspective to their ongoing conversation, they want to know about it.
Examples of Timely Editorial Coverage
Robert J. Sawyer
Here’s science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer in the Calgary Herald. This interview compares the politics in his novel with real-life political events. So the hook that brings in readers is a discussion of current politics.
London Fire Brigade
This isn’t about an author, but it’s a great example of inserting oneself into a story. Kate Winslet was in the news for helping Richard Branson’s mother during a fire. The London Fire Brigade then offered the actress firefighter training. The brigade wasn’t part of the original story—but found a way to join that conversation and become part of the story.
Eloqua vs. Market2Lead
Now, this example is fascinating: If you read this news item about tech company Oracle purchasing Market2Lead, the only quotes come from a competitor and an analyst. There are no quotes from any of the people the story is actually about. When this news broke, tech journalists jumped online to find context for their reporting. Search engines directed them to a blog post from the CEO of Eloqua (a competitor). He explained the significance of this acquisition to his industry—and journalists went with his perspective in their coverage.
Types of Breaking News
Here are examples of what we might call “breaking news.” These are events you probably didn’t know were coming (and can’t necessarily plan ahead for)…
–Surprise At Public event
Do’s and Don’ts for Pitching Timely Topics
When sending a timely media pitch…
DO remember that your perspective needs to be relevant. If there’s no reason for a romance author to talk about that crisis in the Middle East, don’t waste your time. Only pitch if your field of expertise is clearly applicable.
DO find unique and interesting ways to join the conversation. But keep in mind that if it’s breaking news, you have to jump on while people are still talking about it.
DON’T be off-topic or try to hijack the thread. If you jump into this with a big ol’ BUY MY BOOK promo announcement, it won’t work. And everyone will think you’re a jerk.
DON’T be tone deaf or an ambulance chaser. You’re an authority, but speak into this news in an appropriate manner. You want to offer a helpful or useful perspective.
What Are You Going to Do Now?
Look at what the media is covering in your world. What are the surprises or hot button topics that are top of mind for your target readers?
Can you think of any breaking stories to speak to? Can you offer an angle that injects your unique—and relevant—point of view into a conversation already taking place?
Share an example of a timely media topic that you've successfully pitched—or questions—below!
Next in our series, we’ll look at examples of media pitches driven by seasonal ideas. See you next month!
If you aren’t already a member of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content from our Team of Industry Insiders and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers, and other self-publishing pros.