How to Get Media Attention for Your Book
August 25, 2021
New books are launched every day and hundreds of books on any given topic. Yes, that includes the topic of the book you've written. So how do you stand apart from the pack and garner media interest in the book you've toiled and sacrificed so hard to write?

Hire a book publicist.

That's all!

Okay, all jokes aside, book publicity is crucial to expanding your readership and increasing book sales. Unlike say brain surgery, you can have a go at book publicity without prior experience and potentially rack up some successes.

Wins in publicity are measured by the number and quality of media interviews you book. To land these coveted interviews, you will need to reach out to contacts at TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and podcast outlets. But, again, how do you stand out from the hundreds of pitches a producer or editor gets every week - including on your book's same topic?

A book publicist will have valuable contacts at media outlets that she has cultivated over many years. In fact, a good publicist who has earned media contacts' trust may have the personal phone numbers of important writers and producers. What's more, publicists will have the creative know-how to pitch and follow-up in ways that land media interviews.

If you would rather try to do the publicity work yourself, or simply want to educate yourself about book publicity, read on to learn more about how to get media attention for your book.
Step 1: Identify Relevant Media Contacts
There are thousands upon thousands of traditional media outlets at the national, regional and state level. Traditional media outlets include TV, radio and print. That is to say nothing of the estimated 1 million podcasts and web-based media outlets you can use to publicize your book. So which is right for you?

To choose the right media outlets you'll need to:

  1. Perform hours and hours of research, combing through articles and TV and radio shows, to find the right producer or writer who covers your topic. Read their work and learn how they cover your topic.
  2. Obtain the content producer or writer's name and contact information, so you can pitch to the correct person. Here's a rookie assumption: that the show host is the contact.
Step 2: Develop Compelling Pitches
Authors, are you sitting down? Here's a hard truth: the media doesn't care about your book.

This is a bitter pill for many first-time authors to swallow. Show producers and editors have busy jobs, spinning many plates to keep their content interesting and relevant, while meeting audience and business expectations.

The book that was born from your blood, sweat and tears is inherently meaningless to them. So you have to make it meaningful for them!

Ready for the challenge?

Develop a killer pitch. This means you've got to be clever, wily and super creative - which I know you are since you've written a whole book.

Now use your creative juices to develop a pitch - three to four sentences that ties your book to a relevant topic or special interest.

Research and brainstorm ideas based on the show or reporter's niche and audience. Make your book not only relevant, but unique and intriguing.

For non-fiction authors, the hook is likely one of the main subjects or themes of your book. If your book has fires in it - well, you likely have a lot of tie-ins with the growing number of massive fires in the West (sadly). Is your book about healthcare? Between COVID coverage and health insurance conversations, you'll have plenty of ways to show how your book is important to the news of the day.

Pitch challenge accepted? Alright. You're ready for the next step.
My client Tish Squillaro, author of "HeadTrash" with Brian Kilmeade of Fox News
Step 3: Write a Compelling Press Release
A press release is like a pitch in that you want to craft one that is compelling to the media. But it differs in that it is longer and describes the book in more detail.

The press release answers the questions who, what, why and when. Follow these rules to craft a pro-level press release:

  • Keep it short and to-the-point (for god's sake, no more than a page!)
  • Tie-in newsworthy or topical events to the book
  • Make it professional, with proper grammar and spelling
  • Write it for the media, focusing on what they want from your book, rather than what you want to tell them
  • Start with the hook - the most compelling information first, and then work down to basic information
  • Give your press release a grabbing headline that is newsworthy

Your press release should not be more than a page. Otherwise, consider it an entry into a busy media professional's wastebasket.

Step 4: Personalize Your Email Pitches
I know what your instinct will be when you are sending out your pitches to media outlets: copypasta!

This is internet-speak for copying a block of text and pasting it across different communications channels. The problem with this short-cut is that it isn't catered to each media contact. To get attention for your pitch, you'll need to personalize your communications.

Here's a few tips on email pitching:

  • Be conversational, brief and scannable. Your contact wants to get the gist of your email quickly and not read a dense, text-heavy email that drains away their precious time. Be friendly and to-the-point. Also, format it in a way that makes the key points clear.
  • Time it right. If the show has just covered the same subject you're pitching, you may want to wait. Better yet, do the show's producer their job for them by showing how your book can be a follow-up piece.
  • Show your contact you know them. Infuse into your pitch with knowledge of their show or article content. Make it clear that you watch, listen or read their outlet.
  • Make your relevance explicit. This is a bit redundant since this is what a pitch is all about, but it bears repeating: make it super-duper, crystal clear why your book is relevant to the outlet's audience and how it can inform and/or entertain them
  • Include a bio. Show the author's expertise on the topic. No long CV's please!
Step 5: The Art of the Follow-up
You've done a lot of hard work until this point. Now you sit back and wait for all those bookings to come in, right?

Um. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Here's another hard truth: the vast majority of the media contacts will not respond at all to your pitch. That's just the tough reality. It can be very discouraging, like all your hard work was for nothing.

But this is when you have to grin and bear it and white-knuckle your way through the disappointment because rewards by way of booked media interviews may be awaiting you.

This is when you follow-up. Have courage!

Much like your initial email pitch, the follow-up should be friendly, succinct and show that you know your contact. Simply because the contact didn't respond the first time doesn't mean it's a no; it likely means that they simply didn't have the time to respond.

Persistence is the answer.

Think about your first high school crush you never let know how you felt. In hindsight, don't you wish you were more forward in revealing your feelings, in being more persistent? Be that high schooler you envied who was persistent and finally won over their first love.

You can win over a media contact sometimes with one follow-up, sometimes with several. You have to be strategic in how you reach out and how often. Some contacts like a phone call, email or text. Unless you get a hard no, don't stop following up.

Never say the same thing each time - give them new information to keep them interested! Maybe book sales have gone up, or your author can provide insight on a recent event. It also gives you a good reason to follow-up again without seemingly like a pest.

Approach it as not just pitching, but relationship building. Be very respectful of your contacts' time, while of course promoting yourself. It's a balance!

Here's a great example of how important following-up is:
I was representing the authors of Looneyspoons, a self-published low-fat cookbook. I kept following-up with People magazine, highlighting that the book sold 600k copies and had a great human interest story in the form of the authors' lives. Finally, we landed a spot - a front and back spread with eight photos! This is almost unheard of for this magazine's human interest spotlights. The book went on to sell 1.2 million copies.

Bringing It All Home
These steps in how to get media attention for your book can be distilled into two words: creativity and persistence. The creativity comes by way of developing compelling pitches, press-releases and communications to media contacts. Persistence means following-up regularly with each contact.

There are a lot of book publicists out there and not all are created equal. But the good ones are worth their weight in gold. If you are considering hiring a book publicist, be sure to ask for the successes. Over the course of my career, for example, I've helped authors take their book sales into the millions. And I did it all, in two words, with creativity and persistence.

Reach out to me to learn more about how to get media attention for your book.