I often recommend guest blogger Cathy Lewis to authors looking for a publicist because she does a great job of finding newsworthy angles in her nonfiction client manuscripts. She is president of CS Lewis & Co. Publicists, a boutique publicity firm that’s been turning authors into newsmakers and generating book sales since 1994. To learn more, please visit her website.
Promoting your book: 8 ways to pitch media outlets
By Cathy S. Lewis
A common misconception new authors have about book promotion is that their topic is so fascinating, different, and groundbreaking, the media will automatically want to interview them once they hear about it.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the media works. Columnists, editors, bloggers, and producers aren’t just waiting for the “the next big thing” to land on their doorstep. More often, they create the next big thing by seeing potential in a good story idea that’s been pitched to them.
And that’s where a good media pitch comes it. Your pitch should position you as an expert, and offer story ideas that are so compelling that the media contacts will feel they’re missing out on something if they don’t run with the story before anyone else picks it up.
It’s all about content
As an author, you need to shift your perspective. It’s not the media’s job to promote your book. It’s your job or that of your book publicist to come up with content for columnists, editors, producers, and bloggers that features you and your book.
There are so many online publications, TV channels, blogs, and 24-hour radio talk shows now that there’s not enough quality content to fill them up; the media is always hungry for more. Knowing this, you can produce well-crafted pitches that, in effect, solve a problem for your media contacts.
8 ways to create compelling content
Let’s look at eight ways to create compelling content in a pitch so media people will “bite” on the story idea and want to create a piece that features your expertise and your book.
1. Do their work for them.
Draw from your book or area of expertise to come up with five to seven useful tips, and then incorporate them into a short piece of around 700 words. The media pitch presents the idea, tells them why it’s important, and then offers print-ready tips. Often, a busy media person will take the tips, add their name to the byline, and print them verbatim, naming you as the source. Or you can do what we did for one client. We offered a tips-based article called “Six Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol” as a bylined guest post, and the site published it under the author’s name. That was easy!
2. Link your story idea to a new study.
Let’s say you’re a parenting expert, and the American Pediatric Association has just released a new study on the harmful effects of TV viewing on toddlers. Create a pitch that includes a link to the new study, and offer yourself as a knowledgeable expert to elaborate on it. If you have a contrarian or unusual perspective to add to the topic, all the better.
3. Spin a recent poll finding in a counter-intuitive way.
One of our author’s companies sponsored a poll that asked American workers about their loyalties. We combed through it for the most surprising finding–that employees are more loyal to their favorite soft drink than to their employer–and created a pitch around that idea. News media from around the world picked up our story and ran with it.
4. Present yourself as a contrarian expert.
If everyone believes in heart surgery, and you’re a cardiologist who believes that most heart surgery is invasive and unnecessary, then by all means highlight that perspective and frame a pitch around it. The media loves controversial experts as long as they’re not crackpots. When we did this for one of our authors, a health reporter for the The New York Times wrote a whole story on it.
5. Hitch a ride on breaking news.
Let’s say there’s been a horrific shooting that’s getting national attention, and you’ve just written a book about post-traumatic stress disorder in teens. You or your book publicist could quickly do a pitch positioning you as a TV or radio guest who can talk to parents about how to help their children with fear and anxiety.
6. Write a pitch linked to current culture.
Pop culture is rich with trends and ideas that can be incorporated into a good pitch. A new movie that’s coming out about elder romance. Or a sports celebrity who has a drug problem. Whatever your area of expertise, be alert to pop culture news that gives you an opportunity to offer advice, strategies, or pithy commentary.
7. Draw from real-life case studies.
Are you a professional who can share valuable lessons learned from real client experience? Using some real-life examples of business decisions that looked bad at first but turned out well, based on our authors’ book, we created a pitch that appealed to a reporter at CNBC, who liked that we had found all the examples for her.
8. Tie in to holidays and national themed months.
Don’t let holidays pass you by. Think of ways your expertise might fit in to a Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, or National Diabetes Month theme, for example. Virtually every media venue does themed stories that correspond with noteworthy times of year.
Have you tried a pitch that worked? Tell us about it! Just comment here.
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