Use these webinar takeaways to get more author and book publicity

I’m a big proponent of publicity – news media attention.

Book publicity is free, it gives you and your book a huge credibility boost, and it’s not too hard to get when you know what you’re doing.

To “know what you’re doing,” you just have to spend a little time educating yourself. You’ll find lots of how-to content on this site that will help with that. (Use the search box on the right in desktop view, at the bottom with mobile.)

Where are the book publicity opportunities?

A key piece of that education process is familiarizing yourself with media outlets and what they cover.

You’ve probably noticed that the media landscape has changed fairly significantly in recent years. For example, there are fewer daily newspapers, and those that are still with us are understaffed.

But there are many other content-based platforms now, including blogs, podcasts, and brand sites that use reported articles in ways that educate and serve their target audiences.

Insights from ExpertFile webinar

With that in mind, I recently watched the “Beyond the Media Pitch: How to Secure Better Coverage in Today’s Noisy Market” webinar hosted by ExpertFile, a company that helps connects journalists with sources and research data. Veteran former network journalist Wilf Dinnick, founder of Mission A, was the presenter.

Even though the webinar was geared more toward PR people at organizations with lots of subject matter experts on staff – think higher education and healthcare organizations – I knew I could find a few “ahas!” to share with you.

Here are some takeaways that are relevant to authors.

About journalists

  • Many are young. That means you pitch them (try to sell them on an article or segment idea) differently than you’d pitch me.
  • Younger journalists are often socially conscious.
  • On average, they cover four beats (topics), file five stories a week, and their stories are presented in more than one format.

What do journalists want from you?

  • Ideas that are relevant to what people are talking about today
  • A good story that is:
    • Fresh
    • Visual
    • Offers exclusive and/or surprising data
  • Data
  • Expert sources
  • Pitches that show you understand their target audience
  • Short pitches with quick facts
  • New angles for COVID-19 coverage
  • Feel-good stories
  • Ideas that help further diversity, equity, and inclusion

Ways to make your story idea a little more unique

  • Localize a national story
  • Broaden a story to a larger audience
  • Be counter-intuitive

What does the “perfect pitch” look like?

  • Arrives on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning
  • Subject line that’s 25 to 30 characters long
  • No more than 200 words
  • Includes no more than two links to more information

“Owned” media can help boost book publicity

“Owned” media is content you control – your website and blog.

Having lots of relevant content on your website will help you show up higher in search engine results when a journalist is looking for a source like you.

Quality owned media can also boost your credibility.

Think in terms of:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles that you write about your topic that you can add to your site, separate from a blog (or in place of it). Mimic newspaper style.
  • Press releases
  • Q&As
  • Video
  • Infographics

One more book publicity tip from me

I’ll add one more tip from my experience as a freelance writer: Zero in on a few media outlets, study what they use, and show that your idea is a good fit for them when you pitch.

Publicists pitch me all day, every day. Most come to me because I’m in a media database with a few broad topics such as “small business” linked to my name.

Most of the pitches I receive have nothing to do with what I write about.

But those that do? I pay attention. When I get a pitch from a publicist who not only knows what I write about but what outlets I write it for, I notice. And I read those pitches.

Some I save for future use and some I respond to immediately not because I like their story idea, but because the source they’re pitching is a good fit for something else I’m working on at the moment.

When that happens, we’re all happy.

A little homework goes a long way.

Have you been able to get news media attention for your book? Please tell us about it in a comment.

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  1. Thanks for this article, Sandy. Pure GOLD! It provides a fresh perspective on what has been totally mysterious to me up to now.

    While I have received media attention and have been featured in national publications, the journalists have not directed any attention to my self-help books but instead link to my law office. Your pointers will help me tweak my pitch going forward.

    1. I’m glad it’s helpful, Sonia! I have some thoughts on your situation (how unusual, right? — hahaha). When I’m quoting someone like you in an article, I can use your book as your credential and link to your author website if the credential that’s most relevant is the book. But if someone is an author and a lawyer, for example, and I’m using them as a source because of their law expertise, I have to link to their lawyer website, not their author site. More simply, when I have options, I have to link to the most relevant of those options. And there are times when people say “Please use this site link” and I can’t because the link they want me to use has nothing to do with the expertise they’re offering in the interview.

      So…for you…I highly recommend adding your books to your law site. Feature the covers on the home page and add a tab for your books. That will serve both the journalist’s purposes and yours. And do it now, so you gain the attention of everyone clicking on that link in articles because as you know, those articles will continue to be seen and read for a long time.



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