Increase book coverage: small steps
Anyone and everyone in book publicity can tell you it’s hard to get coverage for books. At the same time, many journalists and bloggers will tell you that when they *do* want to cover a book, it’s impossible to get responses from publishing houses. Odd, that.
Murphy’s Law states that not all books will receive lots of publicity (oh — that’s not Murphy’s Law? Well, you get my drift …) but here are a few mistakes we all make that can lead to those small delays that can become big delays that can become missed opportunities. Sort of like when an air traffic control glitch grounds your plane, then the traffic builds up and you’re sitting on the tarmac for eight hours, then the FAA decides that the crew has been on duty too long and your flight gets cancelled. If we can all take a few seconds or a few minutes to be a little more careful / clear / thoughtful, we could improve our chances of getting what we want: book coverage.
Journalists / bloggers:
— Don’t leave requests on voicemail. Use email. It’s a hassle forwarding voicemail to another publicist in house; it’s impossible to forward a phone message to an author.
— Leave some information about who you are and why you need the review copy / interview, particularly if you’re contacting a book publicist with whom you do not have a relationship. If the publicist has to get in touch with you to ask for more details, your request will get delayed to some time between later and, well, never.
— When journalists and bloggers contact you, respond. A reviewer might be interested in covering a book or author, but if they can’t get through, it’s often easy enough to move on to the next book — and the next publicist who does respond.
— Don’t make people jump through hoops to get a book or interview unless it’s really necessary. For some authors, requests must be vetted. Really, really carefully. Most people understand that. I myself am a stickler for getting *some* information about a journalist and their story — “I want to interview an author” isn’t going to get someone an interview with one of my authors. But it’s one thing to expect a few sentences of explanation; it’s another to ask for everything short of someone’s tax return and subsequently impose rules and requirements on the person’s coverage. It’s called “freedom of the press” for a reason.
— Don’t rely exclusively on blast emails when pitching. Although email blasts are inescapable, do your research and try personalizing some pitches some of the time. Use the phone to follow up selectively and wisely.
— Include links in pitches. Just as we publicists like to see details in the requests we receive, journalists (sometimes) like to see further details about the books we’re pitching. Since there’s a limit to the amount of information an email message can contain before the recipient’s eyes glaze over, give them the option to easily access more information by including links. (Keep in mind that long links can break up when messages are sent, so utilize the hyperlink button or a URL-shortening website like Tiny URL.)
— Be up front with your publicist about your publicity expectations / requirements. If there are certain media outlets / types of media outlets / journalists with whom you do not wish to conduct interviews, let your publicist know ahead of time so they won’t pitch these people in the first place.
What am I forgetting? What are those quick, seemingly minor things we could do to improve our chances of hitting the mark and getting coverage of books and authors?
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Fall 2012: I’ve really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but I’ve — reluctantly — come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the time to maintain this blog.
I imagine there is some information that will remain the same and that will remain useful, but there is much more that is or will become out of date, so please keep that in mind if you find yourself perusing my posts.
For some time now, I’ve closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry. Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought I’d set up a book publicity blog. The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency. Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.
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