The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Book publicity FAQ: Media

Follow the Reader, an incredibly informative publishing blog, has been running a series of posts entitled Fine Arts of Marketing, Publicity + Advertising in which they discuss, well, book marketing, publicity and advertising.

Here on the publicity end, there are a number of questions that we book publicists often get from editors, authors and literary agents, so I’m listing a few FAQs here.  I initially had tackled a number of questions in this post, but decided it would be easier to break it up into two, so this post deals with media questions.  Next week I’ll post book tour FAQs.

Can you book me on [show] tomorrow?

Pretty much, no.  (Unless the author can address a breaking news topic, in which case we might book an author with a few hours notice.) 

What you need to know: Broadcast producers (and their print and online counterparts) need time to receive books and prepare for interviews which means that typically their lead times are between two and four weeks, sometimes more.  Typically, we’re booking interviews two-four weeks out, although some shows will book guests for the next week.

Can you book me on Oprah / The Today Show / The Daily Show / Fresh Air?  Will my book be reviewed in the New York Times Book Review?

Some books really are a good fit for these shows / newspapers and you can be assured that the publicists are heavily pitching those titles.  Many others are “maybes” and we still pitch those titles just in case.  But be realistic about your expectations based on the coverage you do see — before you start clamoring for a Daily Show appearance simply because your friend told you that it really sells books, watch the show.  When was the last time Jon Stewart interviewed a novelist?  How often does Terry Gross cover personal finance?  (And publicists — be realistic with your authors.)

What you need to know:  There are hundreds of thousands of books published annually; most shows that interview authors cover, at most, four books a week, often less.  (To see what books are covered on the national NPR shows, you can check my NPR Book Watch.)  This doesn’t mean you won’t get a national booking, but it does mean we all have to work harder to fine tune and personalize pitches — this is where input from authors can be really handy — and to research which shows / correspondents cover (or like) a topic.

On the print end, book coverage has largely been reduced to token reviews (or more often mentions) although many blogs and websites have picked up the slack.  (What remains to be seen, of course, is whether a blog review can generate the sales that print reviews in major national publications can.)

What you should also know is that publicity departments are in touch with the editors and producers of many major publications and national shows (and some local ones) months in advance of a book’s publication.  At the start of each season, publicists mail out catalogs to thousands of editors, producers and reporters and subsequently meet / talk with many to review the season’s titles.  Three to six months before a book’s publication, galleys are sent to major editors and producers nationwide.  Finally, four-six weeks before a book’s publication, finished books are sent to the media.  We’re not kidding when we say we blanket the media.

The downside to aggressive media outreach campaigns is that when hundreds of publicists are promoting thousands of titles, the media to whom we are aggressively reaching out have progressively less time to respond to each request we make.  This means that we often don’t get responses from editors and producers (try as we might to be selective about what we pitch to whom).

All around, it’s not an ideal situation, but that’s the reality these days.


What book publicity / media questions would you add?


February 11, 2010 - Posted by | Pitching Tips


  1. Nice post. I’d add: pitch a TOPIC, not your book. Especially when it comes to news publications (coming from a former newspaper journalist who used to throw out tons of press releases). We don’t really care that much about your book — it’s not news. What might be news is something you write about. In that case, a journalist might do a story about the TOPIC, then interview or mention you for that story.

    Comment by Alexis Grant | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. Great point, Alexis. I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be ideal for an interview to be entirely about a book, but the reality is that those types of opportunities are few and far between. If us publicists (and authors) can find those news hooks, then we can increase the chances of coverage.

    Comment by Yen | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] publicity FAQ: book events Last week I posted about book publicity FAQs that pertained to the media.  Of course, book promotion also involves scheduling author events, which is another area in […]

    Pingback by Book publicity FAQ: book events « The Book Publicity Blog | February 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] A book publicist talks about media publicity. […]

    Pingback by Sterling Editing » Written on the internet | February 26, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: