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5 Steps to Curating a Media Outreach List for Your Book

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 promotionsocial 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!



1. Understand the three tiers of media coverage.

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.

2. Brainstorm your connections.

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.

4. Don’t be afraid of non-traditional media outlets.

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).

Want to see more author tips like these? Visit our blog archive to read more.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Your Book to Retailers

Pitching your book to retailers for in-store placement consideration and events is essential for book promotion and sales. To a first-time author, this process can be difficult to navigate. We’ve outlined our dos and don’ts for pitching to retailers below to make things a little easier!


Dos:

  • DO know what your retail pitching goals are.
    • Is your goal to secure a book signing and reading event? Do you want the store to carry and sell your book? Do you want both? It is important to know what your goals are before reaching out to retailers. Oftentimes bookstores will have one contact for event inquiries, and one contact for book buying and in-store placement consideration. Additionally, it is sometimes easier to secure in-store placement after you have already had an eventthis gives the bookstore an opportunity to see how popular the book is amongst their customers.
    • DO make your pitch email clear, concise, and to the point.
      • While it can be tempting to dive into the book’s details, it is better to keep your pitch as concise as possible. Bookstore and event managers are very busy, and they are more likely to pay attention if the information is presented to them in a clear, simple way.
      • DO include the book title, 13-digit ISBN number, and retail price in the subject line.
        • In addition to keeping the pitch email concise, be sure to include the key information about the book in the subject line. This again will make bookstore and event managers more likely to open your email.
        • DO follow a loose email template, but be sure to tailor your pitch based on where you are sending it.
          • While it is important to include necessary components of your pitch emailgreeting, brief book synopsis, distribution and buying informationit is also important to tailor your pitch based on where you are sending it. Bookstores will like to see that you have done your research and are interested in their particular store. 
              • First, begin with a greeting. If you do not have the contact’s name, use a blanket term, such as “event manager”.
              • Then, include a sentence explaining why you are writing (whether that be for in-store placement consideration or an event).
              • Write an explanation as to why this book would be a good fit for their store. This is where you can tailor the release, and show the store that you have done your research on what kinds of books they carry and events they host.
              • Include a brief synopsis of your book. Be sure to cover the important components of your story, but keep it succinct.
              • End with a  closing statement explaining where the book can be purchased (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Mascot Books, etc.) and what documents you have attached for more information (one-pager, press release, etc.)
        • DO include relevant media hits, in-store placements, and events.
          • Don’t be afraid to brag a little bit! By mentioning other media hits, events, or in-store placement opportunities you have had, the bookstore will see that your book is getting traction and attention with other outlets.
          • DO be prepared to provide the bookstore with event logistics.
            • About how many people do you think you would be able to guarantee at the event? How will you market the event to your family, friends, and followers? Do you have an up-to-date author headshot? 
            • DO go in person if the store is close by.
              • If you live close to the bookstore that you are pitching to, it is always beneficial to pitch your book in person! Be sure to bring a hardcopy of the book, along with any other information that may help the bookstore move toward a positive decision.

            Don’ts:

            • DON’T follow up every day.
              • If you do not receive a response immediately after reaching out to the store, don’t be discouraged! With the sheer volume of emails bookstores receive, it may take them a while to get back to you. The best strategy is to reach out about once every two weeks, rather than every day.
            • DON’T take rejections personally.
              • Every bookstore has their own policies, preferences, and book-buying specifications. If your book is not chosen for in-store placement or an event, do not take it personally! There are many other bookstores out there that may be better fits for your book in the long run.
              • DON’T commit to an event before you are 100% certain that you will be able to participate. 
                • So you have secured an event with a bookstorefantastic! Triple check your schedule to ensure that you are available before committing to the bookstore. 

              • DON’T begin pitching to bookstores until the books have arrived at Mascot’s warehouse and have been registered with distributors.
                • Until your books have arrived at the Mascot warehouse and have been registered with major distributors (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, etc.), bookstores will not be able to place orders of the book. It is better to wait until these steps have been taken to ensure that the retail pitching and ordering process runs smoothly.

              Want to see more author tips like these ? Visit our blog archive for more information.

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              How to Score a Successful Book Signing Event at a National Chain

              Your book has just been published (or is about to be) and you’re mapping out a killer marketing strategy. You may have heard that only bestselling authors have the opportunity to schedule a book signing at national chains. I’m here to tell you that’s not true and to offer tips on how it may be worth the effort. Events like signings and readings benefit both the retailer and the author. Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Costco, and other national retailers routinely host authors published by large traditional publishing houses as well as self-published authors. Such book-related events are part of the overall business strategy at bookstores, warehouse clubs, grocery stores, airport concessionaires, and other outlets. Because of these events, authors get their books into outlets that might not otherwise carry their titles. Retailers are able to showcase local authors’ work and get incidental business from the authors’ friends, family, and fans. What retailer is going to argue with more store traffic? It’s a true win-win! So how does an author go about setting up a book event at their local outlet of a national chain? Here are a few tips:
              1. Have a professionally published book. If you can’t meet this requirement, the rest of these instructions are useless. The content must be marketable. Would-be authors should walk the aisles of their local Barnes & Noble and examine the books. Really examine the books. They’ll see well-designed covers, well-constructed books, subject matter that is interesting and timely, and (of course) great writing. What they won’t see is books that “look self-published.” If you’re not familiar with this industry phrase, it means “sucky-looking.”
              1. Call or stop by the store you’ve targeted for your book event. Ask to speak with a store manager or the manager that coordinates author events. Be sure you’re able to succinctly communicate to the manager the following items:
              • Who you are and why you’re interested in holding an event in this particular store
              • A brief synopsis of your book
              • The book’s ISBN (org by Bowker), genre, and release date
              Aside: I talked to a Community Relations Manager (CRM) at Barnes & Noble recently and she told me, in no uncertain terms, if an author doesn’t know their book’s ISBN, or worse if an author doesn’t even know what an ISBN is, she’s not interested in working with that author. Be prepared to deliver a complimentary review copy for the decision-maker. Don’t be stingy…this is worth it!
              • Why a book event would be good for the store and its customers
              • How the store can procure copies for the proposed event
              Aside: This is important as stores like doing business through their normal channels, and that typically means sourcing through one of their preferred distributors like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or Partners Book Distributing. Stores aren’t generally interested in sourcing books either directly from you or from your publisher (if you have one). And if your book is only available as a non-returnable, print-on-demand title, a book event is impossible.
              1. You’ve successfully scheduled an event. Congratulations! But your work is just beginning. Keep in mind, the store provides the venue, access to its customers, and minimal promotion (like putting the event on their online calendar, but not much else) – the rest is up to you. That means mobilizing your friends, family, and groups you believe will be interested in supporting your event. I urge authors to reach out to local media, and by local media, I mean community newspapers, local radio shows, local bloggers, not The Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. Sorry, but unless you’re J.K. Rowling or an established bestselling author, Oprah is probably not going to bring attention to your book event. Harsh, I know.
              1. The day of the event has finally arrived, so what’s expected of you? Simple. Follow the guidelines established by your host store. They’ve held many signings before yours, and will hold many signings after. They have a system in place and, if you ever want to be invited back, you must get with the program. That means create a poster exactly like they want, offer a giveaway (like a bookmark) that falls within their guidelines, and stick to your allotted timeslot. If you’re not sure about something you’ve planned, always ask in advance.
              1. My last bit of advice is to simply have fun. It’s rewarding to know you sparked the creation of something tangible that entertains, educates, is thought-provoking, and ultimately, is appreciated. This is your moment to shine…take a moment to bask in the glory! Part of basking process includes taking plenty of pictures and sharing the photos on social media, writing about your experience, and letting potential readers in on the buzz your book has created.
              I want to close by highlighting two Mascot Books authors that have followed the above advice and, as a result, have recently enjoyed successful events. Mascot Author Sean Stellato penned the non-fiction novel No Backing Down: The Story of the 1994 Salem High School Football Team. The book chronicles the story of his high school football team overcoming a controversial teachers’ strike that divided the community. The team went on to enjoy a Cinderella-like season that brought the fractured community back together. Sean initially focused on book signings at local outlets of national chains in Massachusetts. Within the first month of the book’s release, Sean was at Barnes & Noble, Costco, and independent bookstores. With a great book and a concerted local marketing plan, the title has gained national momentum and the author is now in-demand throughout the country. Here’s Sean at a Costco signing event. Sean Stellato No Backing Down at a Book Signing in Salem, MA                 Mascot Author Reetu Dua wrote the children’s book Ari Loves the Holidays as a way to help her son learn about and celebrate holidays throughout the year. The Calabasas, California resident had a well-written book, beautiful illustrations, and the subject matter was one that children (and parents) enjoyed. While not a local-interest title as such, Reetu wisely focused her marketing efforts locally by contacting the Calabasas Barnes & Noble about a book event. She did her research and knew the store had an established weekly children’s reading time and offered to hold a signing at a time that was convenient for the store. Reetu did a great job engaging her network and her presentation captured the attention of customers. The result was one of the most successful events held at that particular store over the past year. Because of Reetu’s efforts, she’s been invited back to hold a similar event for her second title Ari Loves the Solar System and other Barnes & Nobles have invited her to have events at their locations. Here’s Reetu at Barnes & Noble. Reetu Dua, Self Published, Barnes and Noble, Ari Loves the Holidays                     Feel free to contact me about this blog post or any other inquiries related to the world of publishing. Naren Aryal naren@mascotbooks.com @mascotnaren

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