If you want to become part of the news cycle, you need to have something newsworthy happening. You also need to be proactive in positioning yourself and be able to tell your story.
Media contacts are inundated with books and pitches each day. This is true not only for new and upcoming books but also for backlist titles that may receive a boost from something happening in the news or some fresh angle. So how can you get your book and your message to stand out from the crowd? How can you become part of the news cycle and what can you do right now to penetrate the noise? Here are some suggestions:
Challenge people’s comfort zones
It’s called comfort zone for a reason, and finding a new angle or approach that a producer or editor might not have thought of is one way to get a media booking. Be different. Be radical. Be controversial. Don’t be afraid to take an unpopular opinion or point-of-view. For example, argue that a work/life balance is overrated, and explain why. Have data or studies that support your claim. Reiterating a commonly held opinion in a different way isn’t being new. It won’t get you noticed, and it won’t get you booked.
Have an opinion
Middle-of-the-road is good for one thing: getting hit by a car! Have an opinion — one way or another — and stick to it. Be true to yourself, deliver an authentic message, and be consistent, no matter what media you are being interviewed or featured in. Competition is fierce enough for “talking heads,” so you must stand out and be different. You want to become known as a resource on a certain subject — one that is regularly called by the media, and that will not happen if you flip-flop.
Write. Then write. Then write some more.
Providing expert commentary and on-demand content for print and online media is a key component to media success in these days of leaner staffs in most every medium. Writing a 1,000-word byline article is a great vehicle to showcase your point of view, your expertise, your book, and your platform in a long-form way. Before writing a word, however, spend some time on the site you’re pitching reading articles for tone, length, and direction. This approach can also lead to a recurring gig that can continue well after your book’s shelf life.
Know the show
A good practice before pitching a show (or blog, podcast, website, or magazine) is to spend some time watching it and getting familiar with it. How do they work with books? Do they feature authors? Do they discuss the topic you want to discuss? If so, how do they frame it? Does one of the hosts have a passionate cause that you can tie your message to? During the days of the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” I would advise my authors who wanted to be on her show to spend a week watching it. Did they do investment advice or cooking segments — or whatever topic/genre the author covered? If we were way out of the ballpark, we’d need to focus our efforts elsewhere.
Have a social media strategy
Social media is a great vehicle for communication and you need to be active on it. Don’t try and be all things to all platforms. Pick two platforms and devote time to them. Twitter, for all its faults, is a great way to interact with fans and media and follow along with stories. Don’t just be a one-way conversationalist on social media, though. Spend time building up a critical mass of followers: ask questions, comment, offer opinions, etc. Do a cover reveal on social media or partner with an influencer to do so. If you have a fiction title or an image-heavy book, Instagram could be a good platform for you. The “Bookstagram” community is an active and vibrant one! For business-related books, LinkedIn can be very effective when it comes to posting original articles.
Communicate and collaborate
If you’re working with a professional publicist, remember one of the most important things you can do is to be a good partner with them. You have the message, they have the contacts, the skill, and the creativity to deliver that message. Brainstorm ideas with them. Collaborate on angles and ideas. Don’t forget seasonal tie-ins or “awareness” months (October is Breast Cancer Awareness, February is Heart Health Awareness Month). If you see something in the news that you can comment on or that directly relates to your book, be in touch with your publicist and send them three to five talking points. Time is of the essence so jump on things right away (or plan well in advance). If you read a piece that is connected to your book or message, send it to your publicist.
You have a story to tell and the media wants to hear from you. But you (or your publicist) need to do the legwork and help them see that. As media consumers, we know how much competition there is for our eyeballs and our attention. These tips will hopefully help you to catch a producer’s eye and tell the world about you.
Join Mike (and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors) as he and the Smith Publicity team host the workshop, “Book Publicity: How Authors Can Become Part of the News Cycle,” at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now for the conference and the workshop!
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