The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

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. 

Publicists:

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.)

Authors:

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?

June 24, 2009 - Posted by | Author-Publicist Relationship, Pitching Tips, review copies |

13 Comments »

  1. Great tips!

    Comment by Courtney | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great post! Thanks.

    Comment by Scobberlotcher | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. I would add, for publicists, to include a sample chapter or excerpt in their pitch. Sometimes I’ve been fooled by a snappy description into reading something really crummy or just not to my taste — and I’ve probably overlooked many really good books because I couldn’t tell whether I’d actually like it from the description. Including sample writing would make it easier to get books to reviewers who are likely to enjoy them, I think!

    Comment by Christine | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  4. For publicists:

    Have a link (even if it’s just YouTube) of the author talking on camera. A previous interview or just a homemade video – doesn’t matter. As a TV producer, I want to see how they look (hair done, makeup done, tasteful clothes) and how they speak (in a complete sentences, with energy, few “ums”, etc.)

    Marianne

    Comment by Marianne Mancusi | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  5. I have this idea for a small cottage industry–matching up lesser known authors with venues needing interest; i.e. older historical homes, etc. IN VA, where I am, there are plenty of such venues and, sadly, we are hardly a hotspot for writers to come to. Am I on to something or is this just not something anyone would be at all interested in? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Mercedes Castillo Hanvey | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  6. […]Yen of the Book Publicity Blog has a few ideas to share with bloggers, publicists, and authors which are right on the nose. Really, folks, it’s the little things[…]

    http://community.livejournal.com/genrereviews/150607.html

    Comment by Anna/ocelott | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  7. Authors, if your book has a tie-in with a national organization use that to your advantage. For example for my ya novel RETURNABLE GIRL, I contacted numerous organizations that helped foster kids/parents, adoption, and bullying. For SPOTTING FOR NELLIE, I plan to contact traumatic brain injury, gymnastics, and M.A.D.D. to name a few. Look for my book trailers on You Tube. Another way to promote! Pamela Lowell. http://www.pamelalowell.com

    Comment by Pamela Lowell | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  8. For Publicists:

    Most review sites schedule their reviews a month in advance. Don’t expect a review or promotion the next day after you contact. It will all depend on their schedule.

    Know what the site promotes by checking it out to see if it promotes the books you want to promote.

    Also make sure the author returns the info requested. I’ve missed interviews because the author never sends the interview back.

    Comment by LaShaunda | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  9. This is great stuff. Good advice. I’m in the process of revising the first draft of my first book, so it’s quite helpful.
    As a media consultant, I’ll also tell you what I say to the authors I train for media interviews. Be sure to make sure you’re on point with sound bites and quotes. Rambling is never good. To be sure you get some Ink or Air, remember my favorite saying: Less is More. Good Luck.

    Comment by Roshini Rajkumar | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  10. As a blogger for the Amazon book blog, among other things, I get a ton of pitches from publishers large and small. A few things make life annoying in these cases:

    (1) Sending a PDF attachment of your press release. This just puts one more step between me and the information.

    (2) Hotlinking words in your email text to links to the book’s website, etc., instead of listing the URLs. I need the URLs so I can easily copy and paste them into any feature I do.

    (3) Forcing me to go through the publicist to do the interview rather than giving me the author’s email. (Unless it’s required because we’re talking about Stephen King types.)

    (4) Giving me an email longer than two or three paragraphs as your pitch.

    All of this is about speed, which is essential. The only areas in which I can cut time without cutting quality is in the peripherals, rather than the text itself.

    So, to sum up, I would so prefer every publicist email that came in was two to three paras about the book, in the body of an email, with the URLs typed out, and with follow up where there’s no third party between me and the author. That’s more than enough for me to decide if I want to do something.

    One last thing–I cannot believe the number of publishers who don’t have a dedicated online press kit for each of their books, with the following: (1) print and internet quality author photo, (2) print and internet quality book cover *at a size larger than a postage stamp*, (3) any relevant text about the book.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Comment by Jeff VanderMeer | June 25, 2009 | Reply

    • I’m always trying to figure out whether it’s better to hotlink URLs (neater) or whether to leave them in the text (and risk having them broken up). Is it that much faster to have the links “spelled out” rather than clicking through a hotlink and copying the URL from the browser?

      Comment by Yen | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  11. Authors can also create an “online newsroom” on their web site includes copies of previous print and broadcast interviews, so the journalist can get some idea of what kind of interview the author is. Include the link to the online newsroom in your email pitch.

    Comment by Terry Cordingley | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  12. A very useful learning for me – “Journalists / bloggers – it’s impossible to forward a phone message to an author”

    You will be surprised how many sites do not have easily accessible contact detais – Is your site a culprit?

    Comment by Mark Waterfield | June 29, 2009 | Reply


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