It’s not about the marathon
I had a discussion with my running coach the other day about my fall races. He was dismayed because in addition to running several half marathons, I am planning to participate in the Men’s Health Urbanathlon a month before the New York City Marathon. He pointed out that the Urbanathlon, which features a variety of splendid activities including a 10K run, 50+ flights of stairs, jumping over cabs, rope climbing — and possibly other events that I should probably brush up on prior to the race — could very well leave me injured and unable to run the marathon.
It’s often assumed that the ultimate goal for all serious runners is the marathon. Although I do consider myself a serious runner and I have run a marathon, I’ve also discovered that four hours is an interminably long time to go without eating anything but energy gel (really just a euphemism for something that looks like snot and tastes far worse). So personally, I rather fancy the half marathon. Which is the long way of saying there’s no “one size fits all” plan for serious runners. And that — of course — is my segue into saying there is no “one size fits all” plan for book publicity.
I know that everyone who works in publishing is aware, at some level, that not all books will be covered in The New York Times Book Review and NPR and on Oprah. But I would like to reiterate that just because we don’t all run marathons doesn’t mean we’re not serious — and successful — runners. So remember to try other “races” like:
- Radio phone interviews: You can supplement publicity efforts for most nonfiction (and some fiction) books by contacting producers at appropriate shows i.e., business shows, science shows, education shows, etc.
- Beat reporters with specific interests: If you have access to a publicity database that allows you to do so, you can perform a keyword search find reporters with a certain specialty, for example, business reporters who cover technology, lifestyle reporters who cover relationships or parenting reporters who cover developmental disorders.
- “Sub” category contacts: Remember that you can locate baseball editors (rather than sports editors) and find obscure beats like cruise ship industry reporters.
- Local and regional publicity: In addition to pulling lists of media for the author’s hometown, consider pulling regional lists for the Pacific Northwest, for example, or Big Sky country, or Maine. (That last one wasn’t a joke — there is actually a robust writing community in Maine.) Keep in mind that some regions make “sense” while others do not — people may be interested in a Southern writer, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sell an editor solely on the fact that the author is from a Mid-Atlantic state.
- Ethnic publications and radio shows: Don’t just look up Asian-American publications, for example, when you can find Filipino or Korean magazines. You can also locate ethnic communities by checking where the publications / radio and TV stations are located. Which is how I know there is a large Armenian population in Glendale, CA.
Obviously, I’ve just touched on (some) traditional media outlets in this post and haven’t even explored “new” media. And, of course, don’t attempt a 10K if you’ve only trained for 5 (for those who are tiring of running metaphors, I’m just saying that make sure whatever you do is appropriate for that book / author), but do try to be as creative and open minded as possible, because you could be waiting a long time for that call from Oprah.