04 Jul Book publicity – where to begin?
One of the biggest challenges for authors trying to promote their books is knowing where to start. It seems like there are so many opportunities for coverage out there – websites, blogs, radio shows, TV programs, newspapers, magazines… the list goes on – so where the heck do you begin?
The most effective book publicity – the type that results in actual book sales – comes down to answering these basic questions well, in my experience: who am I and what’s my story, and who is my reader?
The first asks you to think about the unique selling points of not only your book but also your personal history: what unusual or noteworthy experiences have you had? What qualifies you to comment on a particular subject? Does your situation mean you bring an interesting perspective to an issue? The results of your investigations here are potential story ideas – ways for media to talk about you and, by extension, your book – that you will offer to journalists.
Answering the second question will help you decide where to pitch your ideas, and it requires careful thought – and a healthy dose of brutal honesty! Very few books appeal to everyone. While I understand the desire to see your book in as many hands as possible and maximise sales, a lack of focus about your target reader will lead you on a wild goose chase of pitching ideas to journalists who are simply never going to cover your book. And receiving endless rejections of inappropriate pitches is demoralising and exhausting. It’s far better to settle upon two or three target readerships and then hit the media they consume – a better use of time and more likely to produce results.
Let’s say you’ve written a book about raising children in our increasingly tech-heavy world, and settled upon these potential readers:
- Women 25+
Simply make a list of media outlets published in your location who appeal to these demographics. Consider print (newspapers and magazines), broadcast (TV and radio) and online (websites and blogs), and don’t forget trade/professional publications. Check online advertising kits (most major outlets will have them) to confirm that their audience fits your requirements, or use sites like magshop.com.au, magazines.com or newsstand.co.uk, which helpfully organise the publications available in your area by interest/demographic. Aim for a list of about 20 media outlets to begin with.
The previously myriad media options available to you should seem much more manageable now. Simply start matching story ideas with media outlets and get pitching!
But that’s another story… and one I elaborate on in The DIY Book PR Guide: The HAPPIER Guide to Book Publicity in Seven Easy Steps.