The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Best pitching practices

Last Friday night I took my first speedball class (yes, I’ve been hearing the jokes for four days straight) and after an hour of nonstop squats and lunges, I found, to my chagrin, that I was unable to sit on (or otherwise utilize) the gluteus maximus.

By Tuesday, after a weekend of light jogging, much foam rolling and a day off, I felt distinctly restored.  Or so I thought. Lifting a box of books that afternoon, I felt an unpleasant twinge in my left glute.  Then yesterday, while hopping off the treadmill mid-run to do push ups (never forget the strength training!), I felt the same twinge in the right.  Alas.

How is my working out *possibly* related to book publicity?  You may ask.  It is, in fact, a bit like pitching — you need to give it a rest between rounds.

One frustrated CNN producer bemoaned publicists who email, then call to follow up, then call again when asked to email, then …  Persistence only pays off when you follow up at appropriate intervals at appropriate times (not during the late afternoons for newspaper reporters with looming deadlines, for example, or during President Obama’s inaugural speech for anyone) with new — and appropriate — information.

Breaking news is often an aceptable reason to follow up with a producer / reporter, assuming the link between author and news is logical.  Some producers like to be called in these situations, while others still prefer the quick email (with contact information, availability and expertise / background clearly marked).

Depending on the mode of the pitch, I try to be more or less selective.  So I send out books to a wide range of journalists, for example, since there’s always a chance someone just might be interested in a book, but I’ll only email those who really could cover the book, and I’ll follow up by phone with a select few who really should cover the book.

In publicists’ defense (for any journalists who might be reading this post), most of us aren’t predisposed to being pests.  We do, however, face an endless parade of authors, agents, editors and publishers who want to know why their books aren’t on Oprah / Fresh Air / Charlie Rose / Jon Stewart / fill-in-the-blank-show, so we’re constantly scrambling for answers — any answers at all.  We’d love a “Yes, we’re interested,” (although with 300,000+ books published each year, we realize the odds are slim).  So an “I’ll get back to you if we’re interested” works too.  And sometimes, the magic word?  No.


February 5, 2009 - Posted by | Pitching Tips

1 Comment »

  1. Absolutely! I always appreciated a producer who would just flat out say “no, thanks” so I could move onto to the next producer.

    Comment by Colleen Lindsay | February 5, 2009 | Reply

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