Without media attention, your book will languish on bookshelves, in a warehouse, or in your garage. Or, in the case of print-on-demand books, your words will languish – unprinted and unbound – inside a computer unless you let potential readers know about your work. Your challenge is to let potential readers know about your expertise, and your title, so that they’ll be motivated to buy your book. But how can you get your message directly to your intended audience?
The media can help, but you have to approach the right people at the right media outlets in the right way if you want them to make their radar screen. And you have to make your pitch stand out from the hundreds of other pitches that producers and editors receive each week or, in some cases, each day. That’s a challenge, even for book promotion professionals.
Admittedly, promoting books is an endeavor that takes time and experience. If you can afford to hire a book promotion firm, then go for it. Or if your publishing company is offering you a book promotion campaign as part of your publishing contract, by all means, take it. Otherwise, the dilemma is this: how can you grab the media’s attention and get just a small share of it for your book – when your budget is far more limited than your willingness to learn and your eagerness to succeed?
There are a lot of book promotion information online, and just as you’d expect, a great deal of it is free. Book promotion blogs are available, and a quick search will turn up many that have been around for awhile and have established a respectable number of visitors. You’ll also find several traditional and eBooks about book promotion that convey the art and science of promoting books, and even many that reveal “trade secrets” that can make all the difference for book sales. Additionally, you’ll also find book promotion tips and tools online – many of them low-cost or no-cost — if you look in the search engines.
Examples of book promotion tips you’ll find online are:
o Watch the calendar. Seasons and holidays (the big occasions, such as the Fourth of July, and the more esoteric ones, such as Grandparents Day or Nutrition Month are predictable, and if you figure out ways to tie your messages into various months of the calendar in advance, you’ll be a sought-after expert all the time.
o Contact your alma mater’s media outlets. Every college and university (and just about every high school) in the country has a magazine, Web site, or at least a newsletter in which they can announce alumni news.
o Keep track of your media “hits” so that you can see patterns about which pitches worked and why. Build on those successes, and use them as a blueprint for future pitches.
o There’s usually more than one decision maker at a media outlet. If one producer or editor rejects your story pitch, try another media decision maker at the same outlet – but do so tactfully.
o Send out books. No matter what your budget, you have to send out some books (and probably more books than you’d like) to score interviews. Books and postage are relatively inexpensive compared to losing book promotion opportunities.
Book promotion is something of a moving target in that techniques change all the time. One day, successful authors are blogging their way to success. The next day, the same authors are podcasting to reach potential readers or using social networks to win “friends” who, ultimately, will buy their book. Even if you’re working with a book promotion specialist, there’s likely more that you can do without getting in the “expert’s” way.
In fact, authors are the best experts on their books, while book publicists expertise lies in book publicity and in keeping up with the latest and greatest book promotion techniques. But let’s face it. Who has a better grasp of which messages, and which media outlets, will best reach the executives who need to know about your management book: a book promotion specialist or the CEO who wrote the book? And who knows the hearts, and the minds, of those who read romance novels better than the novelist who writes for that audience?
So, this year, make a point of surfing the Web to find new sources of book promotion tools, techniques, and tricks. It will allow you to compete with all the other authors and publishers who are out there, every day, gaining visibility for their books. And it will keep you working toward the goal of establishing, and maintaining, a media presence so that you can sell books, bring visitors to your Web site, enhance your credibility, and build your brand.