There’s been a lot of buzz around social media marketing lately, and no doubt, it’s a powerful tool. But when marketing your self-published book, don’t forget about good old-fashioned mainstream media. While magazines and newspapers can be tough to break into, they can also help you reach tons of potential readers while lending you credibility as an expert.
Think like an editor
Getting your book noticed by the ultra-busy editors at mainstream publications can be a challenge, but by putting yourself in their shoes, you’ll have a much better shot. Editors have pages to fill and information about you and your book could potentially fill it, but their first priority is to their readers. Think about it: How could you and your story or expertise be beneficial to the readers of a particular magazine? For example, if you wrote a book about your experience going from couch potato to marathon runner, you’d be a great source for a journalist writing a story about fitness tips.
Put together a press kit
So how do you let the world know about your newfound expertise? You need to put together a press kit: A package that gets sent out to editors with information about you and your book. A basic press kit includes:
- A short letter introducing yourself and your book
- A copy of your book, or an excerpt from it
- Your author bio and photograph
But if you really want to get an editor’s attention
… you need to go further than that.
Make it as easy as possible for your target to figure out how you would be useful to them. Include a page with sample story ideas and interview questions. List two or three upcoming dates and times in which you’ll be available for interviews over the phone. The key is to help the editor make the leap from, “Oh, another press release” to “Wow, this person would be perfect to interview for that upcoming story!'”
But be wary of drafting the press kit entirely by yourself. After all the time you spent writing your book, you may have tunnel vision. An outside pair of eyes can help you spot marketing opportunities you may have missed. Besides, book-writing and sales-writing are two different animals. Getting help from a professional may be a smart move.
Release your press kit (and think outside ‘mass send’ mode)
There’s nothing more frustrating to an editor than getting a story pitch or press release that clearly doesn’t fit with their magazine. While it might seem like a good idea to just send out press kits to every publication in town, it’s important to think carefully about where your book fits best.
If your book is about your experience raising a child with special needs, Today’s Parent would be a better choice than Today’s Trucking. Of course, it’s not always that simple: It’s important to actually read the publications you’re interested in targeting so you can make sure your press kit fits with their brand and your cover letter is customized to their unique audience market!
And remember that big-time magazines and newspapers aren’t the only places to present yourself as a potential source. Smaller publications are more likely to give you the time of day and may dedicate a lot of space to you and your story. While a national magazine may mention you once in an article, a community newspaper may run an entire feature about you and your book.
Consider local journalism programs as well. They often put out newspapers with wide circulations, and journalism students are always looking for story ideas. Send a press kit to the program coordinator and you’ll probably get some coverage.
Don’t look at getting your book out there as a challenge. Do view it as a tremendous opportunity, an extension of your story, an avenue to reach your audience on a personal level. Personalization is a must to succeed in the multi-market today! Isn’t that what we want ourselves – someone to talk to us about what we personally are interested in?
Along with researching the ‘best-fit’ publications to showcase you and your book:
- Make sure the message you send talks to their audience
- Standout with information about why your story is news
- Politely and persistently communicate with the right people to follow-up
What tips do you have for getting your book noticed by the media?