By Brian, Feinblum, Media Connect CMO
Senior members of Media Connect led a wonderful panel on best-selling book publicity strategies and tips at Book Expo America, the biggest annual trade show for the book industry in the United States. Over 200 people attended the SRO event on June 1st in New York City. Here are some of the hundreds of helpful tips and strategies that were shared with authors, publishers, and literary agents:
Give Yourself a PR Audit
• Examine your past and see what the media might find noteworthy
• Look at the experiences you have had and see if any are worth discussing
• Think of the connections you have and the people you know – can you drop names to the media?
• Identify what is in your book that the media will find of interest?
Think About What It Is That You May Want to Accomplish with Your PR
• Branding your name to help your career: job or business
• Building a media resume
• Establishing your voice
• Selling a current or upcoming book
• Influencing others
• Conveying a strong message
• Selling backlist or non-book products/services
• Helping you get a book deal or better terms – or to get the eyes of Hollywood on you
• To land paid speaking gigs
Avoid These Mistakes by Authors Who:
• Wait too long to start thinking about publicity
• Mistakenly think they can do it all
• Wrongly assume they will succeed without PR
• Falsely believe the media will cover them with little effort
• Think PR is a one-time thing but really, it’s an ongoing, perpetual thing
What’s Today’s Media Landscape?
• More media outlets and opportunities exist than ever before
• And their value, individually, is more diluted than ever before
• You will need a certain quantity of quality media placements
• Most media coverage can take place by phone and email — it’s becoming rarer that an author needs to travel or take to a road tour.
When Pitching the Media, Will You:
• Identify that media outlet’s targeted demographics? Based on whom they tend to reach, did you devise a pitch that appeals to that demographic?
• Craft a customized pitch that would appeal to that specific outlet, based on the outlet’s past guests or story experts and subjects covered?
• Provide a news peg to your story?
• Do your homework about the personal preferences and life of the specific editor, producer, host, or writer that you’re pitching?
• Look, based on the media outlet’s format or style, how your story idea would fit in to how they interview people or cover an issue? For instance, do they use graphics, have call-ins from listeners, use a panel format, or allow to talk for longer than a sound bite?
• Time your outreach to match when the person you seek to reach is available and mentally open to receiving pitches – or are they on deadline or in production?
• Communicate clearly, concisely, and with confidence. Act as if the media will say yes. Assume success – but work diligently to achieve it.
• Act with urgency, persistence, and creativity? Keep reaching out to the media and give yourself a fighting chance to break through.
Try a Portfolio of Media – Diversify Your Plan of Attack:
You have book reviewers, news and feature editors, columnists, beat writers, op-eds and by-line article opportunities at
• Trade journals
• Industry publications
• Airline magazines
• Interviews or feature stories on national and local news programs, morning shows like GMA or Today Show, late shows like the Daily Show, weekend shows, talk shows, and magazine format shows such as 60 Minutes
• Interviews or feature stories on national and local talk shows or news segments
• Different station formats target certain demographics
• Blog interviews and guest posts
• Online reviews posted on various sites
• Guest FB posts
• News site stories
• Your blog
PR is not just about giving away free downloads of chapters and books, or of tweeting and making videos, or of eblasting a press release. It is about making a sustained, strategic effort to influence the influencers and get media coverage that will help you in the short and long-term.
How You Talk About What You Wrote Matters
• Are you the most qualified to write your book? Sound like it
• Find a way to summarize without the details
• Get to the heart of why one would read your book
• Can you compare your work with other known writers?
• Sell the action, the dilemma, the characters, the words
• How do you describe your book in the context of your life?
• How does it fit into the body of your other writings?
• Can you genuinely speak with passion, confidence, and conviction?
• You should visualize your press release headline as you write your book
• You should formulate your 15-second elevator speech about your book before it is written
• Find a way to succinctly put your book or story into perspective and relevance
• Express it in a way that serves a need, fulfills a desire, or feeds a want – and sounds interesting in the process.
Think Like the News Media
They look for books not only that are well-written, interesting, and new, but where:
• There is a direct tie-in to their readers or audiences, such as by location, content, theme, or industry
• There is news to report or you can tie into things in the news
• The author is famous or has great credentials
• The book ties into a movie
• The book is a best-seller
• The book is getting buzz through Twitter or YouTube
• The book is controversial
• The book has something the journalist, blogger or talk show host can personally relate to
• The demographics of the media outlet tend to match those of the book’s intended readership
Think in Terms of Headlines and Bullet Points
• What makes your book new, unique, different or funny and entertaining
• What ties your credentials into what is in the news?
• Write a book that’s promotable by thinking like a promoter; write for the media – not just the consumer
• Can you convert a chapter heading into a media story?
What’s the Media Looking For?
• Drop names, events, places in the book
• Cover a newsy topic
• Reveal a thinly veiled truth about someone
• Make an allegation or accusation
• Raise a theory and question the status quo
• Dispute perceived truths
• Attack or promote certain values
• Be mysterious
What Helps You Get Media?
• Localize or regionalize the book
• First, media begets media
• Get buy-ins early to create traction
• Build buzz by getting early reviews
• Have the backing of a group
• Try to ride the coattails of others or be linked by association to big things, people or events
• Tie into something that is on the calendar – a relevant holiday, an anniversary, an honorary day
• Think of your life – create a matrix of people, events and experiences and think of how to call upon your past – ask for specific favors
• Exploit personal experience: overcoming addiction, abuse, poverty, loss, disability, arrest
• Create a resume: don’t lie, but shape it to tell a story = develop your media persona
• Channel your energy, resources and creativity not just towards your writing, but to your PR efforts.
• Use your gift – your ability to communicate with words and images – to promote your work
• See PR as a means to an end, just like passing tests leads to a school degree or creating a resume leads to a job
• Shape your image – think of yourself as a business and develop a tagline
• Set the tone and image of who you are or want to be seen as – by what you say, do, and look like
• Create your Web site at least 5-6 months prior to your book launch date
• See your launch date as a coronation – not Day 1. From your launch date, you have 30-90 days to make an impression.
Your Approach Towards the Media Should Be as Follows:
• Create a press release based on your core message and then expand outward into other areas
• The opposite of your core message can be commented on as well
• Forget any sense of fairness: often, the dumbest things get attention.
• You may need to think on a simpler level in order to generate story ideas that will interest others
• PR is the opposite of substantive writing – but it is important – it’s the doorway you must enter to get to your reader
Explore the Extremes and Weave Them into Your Book or Media Pitches
• Make outrageous statements
• Unleash wild predictions
• Raise questions
• Insert gut-punching humor
• Express or appeal to emotions: Fear, Anger, Love, Hate
• Offer a confessional, share a secret, reveal a truth
• Offer ways to help people – inspire, inform, enlighten them
• Play Paul Revere and issue a warning or offer prevention or a solution to some dilemma
As an Author You Are Also a Publicist
• Determine what you can give away to get what you want
• Brand beyond the book – brand yourself
• Promote to perceptions – appeal to what people believe
• Promote to assumptions – appeal to how they think
• Promote to appearances—appeal to what they see
• Befriend people with big mouths to get early buzz
• Viral videos – try to do a few but don’t expect a lot
• Networking – always
• Issue teasers with blog posts, a short story, or even a prior book
• Partner with other authors – other writers can help you greatly
What Else Can You Do?
• Promote your book way before it’s out
• Do something daily for your book publicity
• Meet deadlines and work in advance to handle potential setbacks
• Poll others to test out ideas
• Anticipate – don’t just follow – trends
• Get used to talking about things in a way that is more hype than substance, more extreme than modest, more sensational and not so ordinary
• Copy what works for others – but only the important traits
• Coincide your media pitches and efforts with upcoming events, holidays, anniversaries, honorary days, and timely news hooks
For additional information, please contact panel moderator Brian Feinblum at 212-583-2718 firstname.lastname@example.org or consult www.media-connect.com.