In our “The Dos and Don’ts of Retail Pitching” blog, we broke down the best practices for pitching your book to bookstores for events or in-store placement. In light of COVID-19 and limitations on signing events, many authors are turning to alternative forms of marketing and promotion—social media & brand building, virtual readings, and editorial coverage.
Deciding on which media outlets to contact and pitch to for editorial coverage can be a daunting process to a first-time author. We have outlined some key steps to building the perfect media outreach list for your book!
Before diving into the curation of your list, you should first understand the three main tiers of media coverage. The first (and most selective tier) of media is national media, or media that is aired or distributed across the country. The second tier is syndicated media, which airs or distributes to a select group of stations and regions. Finally, you have local media, which is media that is restricted to a certain geographical area.
While everyone wants their book to be recognized on a national scale, landing coverage with national media is incredibly difficult. While national editorial coverage is not out of the question, most authors find more success with a local or niche audience.
Focusing on local coverage (newspapers, magazines, etc.) or niche coverage (a sports podcast for your baseball book, for example) is the best way to get your book off the ground.
Make a list of people you know who have connections in the media world or who have been the subject of a past story. Just like with the three tiers of media, you should understand the three tiers of connections: primary (someone who works for a newspaper or TV station), secondary (a family member of someone in the industry), and tertiary (friends of friends).
Journalists, editors, and other media executives receive hundreds of requests for editorial coverage. By having a personal connection and putting a face to your submission, your book will ultimately have a greater chance of being picked up by a news outlet.
3. Gather a list of local TV stations, newspapers, and radio stations.
Once you have brainstormed your connections, begin fleshing out your local media list! Start with local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines.
When curating your local list, remember to include both “little local” (outlets in your immediate neighborhood/area) and “big local” (outlets in your town or region).
Another thing to keep in mind is that print media has a longer lead time than online media. This means that an article in a newspaper will likely take longer to be published than an online blog.
Once you have gathered your local, traditional outlets, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Bloggers, podcasts, Instagram influencers, and other digital platforms are great ways to reach a targeted and niche audience.
For example, say you are trying to promote your book about baseball. By appearing on a sports-focused podcast or getting a baseball blogger to write a feature, your book will reach a new audience that is invested in your book’s topic.
5. Do your research!
When putting the finishing touches on your list and preparing your pitches, remember that pitches are most effective when they are sent to a specific staff member, rather than just uploading a press release.
Look for a staff directory, a masthead, or journalists that have written articles similar to your book. If you are looking for a journalist to write about your children’s book, look for an arts & culture editor; if you are writing a cookbook, look for a food writer; and if you are writing a sports book, look for a sports writer. This will not only give your book a greater chance of being recognized, but the people you reach out to will also appreciate that you have thoroughly done your research on them and their organization.
Editorial coverage is a great way to get the word out about your book, but it is not the silver bullet for achieving book sales. It should be used in conjunction with social media promotion, retail pitching, and book signing events (virtual or in-person).
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