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The best ways to get author and book publicity

Publicity is that free media exposure you get when you’re quoted in the press. It could be an interview for a(n):

  • Magazine
  • Newspaper
  • Online media outlet or content site
  • Radio station
  • TV program
  • Blog
  • Podcast

It’s more powerful than advertising and other paid-for marketing tactics because it brings with it far more credibility. That’s because when you’re quoted by the press, you get an authority boost.

People are smart enough to know that journalists are selective about who they use as sources. So, if a reporter chose you, you must know what you’re talking about.

What are the easiest and most effective ways to get publicity? Here are my top three.

1. Write and distribute a publicity tip sheet.

A tip sheet is a type of press release that offers tips or advice in a bulleted or numbered format.

Like a press release, it’s written like a news story so that a media outlet or blogger can run it as is. No additional research or writing is necessary.

Media outlets, especially newspapers and magazines, like tip sheets because they can pull out just one or two tips to fill space. They also run them as short articles or use them as a starting point for longer feature stories.

Media outlets, especially newspapers and magazines, like tip sheets because they can pull out just one or two tips to fill space. They also run them as short articles or use them as a starting point for longer feature stories.Click to tweet

Radio stations like to share the advice in snippets or, like TV talk shows, build author interviews around the tip sheet topic. Bloggers run them as new posts because tip sheets with substance help them deliver useful information to their followers.

Learn how to create one and see an example in “How to create a book publicity tip sheet.”

2. Blog regularly.

When I’m looking for sources for my freelance writing article assignments, I often start with a Google search.

I might type in my article topic, or, when I specifically want to interview an author, I’ll type the topic plus the word “author.”

More often than not, search results take me to blog posts. I contact the blogger via email; if they respond (and sadly, it’s “if,” not “when”), we do an interview … and that expert scores free publicity.

Here’s how you can leverage your blog’s content to get publicity:

  • Provide your email address on your “contact” page, not a form that people have to type into. Because I rarely get a response to my form-based inquiries, I try not to use them when I find a source I’d like to interview. If I can use only one of the two experts I’ve found, I’ll start with the one who provides an email address.
  • Respond to media inquiries quickly. Most of us move on to the next option quickly when we don’t hear back from someone we’ve contacted within a reasonable amount of time.

3. Subscribe to HARO.

HARO – Help a Reporter Out – is a free service that helps journalists find sources to interview and quote in articles and broadcast segments.

It is one of the easiest – if not the easiest – ways to get book publicity.

HARO is every book publicist’s secret weapon because works. That’s why every time I coach an author who wants media exposure, the first thing I ask is, “Are you using HARO?”

And it’s free.

HARO feeds you requests from journalists

When you create a free HARO account, you’ll get three emails a day. Each of these emails includes a collection of brief messages from journalists who are looking for article or segment sources. We call those messages from journalists “queries.”

I use HARO regularly to find people to interview or quote for my freelance writing assignments, and, sad to say, I rarely hear from authors.

Worse, those I hear from don’t respond in a way that makes it possible for me to interview or quote them.

That’s because there’s a right way and a wrong way to respond, and many sources of all types, not just authors, respond the wrong way.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to respond to HARO queries, and many sources of all types, not just authors, respond the wrong way.Click to tweet

HARO response secrets

I teach how to use HARO the right way to get publicity for your author career and your book in my course, “Get Quoted: A Journalist’s Strategies for using HARO to Snag Book Publicity.”

Mastering HARO will give you a competitive edge that will not only help you sell more books, it will contribute to the platform you need to get a traditional publishing contract.

And, for those who consult, coach, or speak, it will boost your profile in ways that attract more clients and allow you to charge more for your services.

Get more information on the Get Quoted course description page.

Publicity begets publicity

It’s important to use any of these methods or others, including contacting media outlets directly with article or segment ideas, because publicity begets publicity.

Here’s what often happens once you’ve been quoted a couple of times:

  • You, your book, and your website show up higher in search engine results when people, including journalists, search for your topic.
  • Journalists who see you’ve been quoted already are more likely to contact you for an interview. That’s because another reporter has vetted you, and because it’s clear that you’re willing and able to talk about your topic.

You also earn the right to share media outlet, blog, podcast, and content site logos on your website in an “as seen on” banner.

Don’t wait to pursue publicity. Let this free strategy help you reach more of the right readers.

Have you snagged publicity? Please tell us how you did it in a comment!

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. After years as a business journalist in the UK, with lots of friends and colleagues in the PR business, I knew how hard it was to get a bit of PR. Having moved to Transylvania (Romania) 10 years ago, I have had many TV interviews and endless column inches in print media and online. All unasked for – those lovely bluebirds that just flap in through the window. The reason? Romanians love my story: A British migrates to mountainous Transylvania – when the flow of traffic is all the other way. Well over a million Romanians moved to the UK, so the odd Brit falling for Romania is Very Good News wherever Romanians are, at home and abroad. And, of course, I often get a mention for my various books in the process…

  2. As always, great advice. If you have the money, spend it on a great book publicist. It will make a world of difference because publicists have the contacts and knowledge to make a better professional campaign.
    However, there is nothing wrong doing it yourself with some thought and time. That means proper research, planning and understanding the difference between publicity and advertising. And, please, never send Spam emails to anyone.
    Angles and timing are important. The fact you wrote a book about sheep farming is not news. The fact you wrote a book about your experiences working on a sheep farm in New Zealand and will be discussing them at a local university on Friday is news.

    1. Great advice, Stephanie. Thanks. Do you screen authors and their books before taking them on as publicity clients, and if so, what does that screening process look like?


  3. As a book publicist and both a former book reviewer and ex-journalist, I screen potential clients carefully. I also am very upfront about my charges and what is promised for that fee. My fee starts at $1,200 per month – much less than others because I tend to work with self-published authors or those from small publishers who are honest with their authors that they don’t provide much publicity. Unless you are a celebrity, most publishers do very little.
    If an author calls me about a book with a small publisher, chances are I have been expecting the call because the publisher has referred the author to me. The publisher has given me information about your book, their previous publicity efforts if any and the publisher’s concerns about your book and you; that diva meltdown you had during the editing process, I’ve probably heard about it and decided it didn’t bother me. Otherwise, the publisher would not have given you my name.
    If you are calling on your own with either a small publisher or a self-published book, I do the research on my own. If my fee doesn’t scare you off and I’m not called greedy (It’s happened many times), I know that you are probably treating this as a business – not a hobby. We all have budgets, and you have every right to choose how to spend your money, but no one owes an author a publicity campaign for peanuts; campaigns take many hours each month. Publicists have bills too.
    Anyway, I am researching your background as much as possible. I look for arrest records, divorce records, college records, etc. I need to know who you really are.
    I look at what you published in the past. if it’s hate speech or even just poorly written, I know I probably won’t want to read, much less represent your new book. A big red flag is if you have self-published more than five books in the last year; quality matters over quantity.
    So, the first thing I do is a reality check. If you are first-time author, the chances of the Today Show or Good Morning America will even respond to a pitch are slim unless your book has already gained a following and is edging up the bestseller list – The New York Times Bestseller list.
    I turn down most of the authors who approach me. Consider it like an agent audition because I, as a publicist, have to decide how I can help you, whether there is a market for your book and whether you really want to work hard. The third is the deal breaker most of the time.
    Here are reasons I will decline to represent you:
    1. You use the term Amazon bestseller when describing your book to me. There is no such thing. $200, an obscure niche and a quiet period in the day, and I can make almost any book climb up the Amazon charts. It’s meaningless.
    2. Your Amazon reviews are obviously from family and friends. And I do Google both you and your friends and family.
    3. You tell me you paid for reviews. Some publicists disagree with me, but this is cheating the readers to me.
    4. You lead with all the media outlets you expect coverage in, and also tell me no one trusts the media and/or reads newspapers. We never disrespect the media, especially when we are asking for consideration for FREE coverage.
    It’s great to have a wish list, but no publicist with any integrity “promises” media coverage; you pay for a publicist’s representation and expertise. If the publicist doesn’t come through with some successes after he or she has managed your expectations, you should fire the person; but there are no guarantees with news coverage – it isn’t advertising.
    5. You tell me you don’t want to share your real name. More and more, media outlets are requiring that real names and pen names be used in stories; they will investigate you too.

  4. After listening to a podcast of a favorite author in my genre (WWII), I contacted the podcaster, suggesting she may want to interview me for the approaching holiday of Veteran’s Day. She was happy to do so and plans to run our interview just prior to Nov 11. I’m happy to say she is out of my usual media area so it may bring new readers to my 9 books on interviews with WWII vets.

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