How to build a killer book publicity media list

how to build a killer book publicity media listAs author Reza Aslan learned after being interviewed by Fox, news media exposure — publicity — can help take your book to the top of the best seller lists.

What’s keeping you from doing the same thing? Judging by the discussions I’m seeing about this topic in book marketing groups, knowing how to find the right journalists is a big obstacle for many authors.

Creating that all-important book publicity media list you’ll use to promote your book on an ongoing basis takes time and effort, but it’s not hard to do. With guidance, in fact, an intern can do a lot of it for you.

7 tips for media list building

Here are a few tips that will help you craft a media list that will help you get news about your book in front of your target audience.

1. Start with an empty Excel file or Word table.

Add columns for each media outlet, the journalist you should contact, e-mail address, Twitter address, outlet category (radio, TV, blog, magazine, etc.), and background notes. Fill it in as you gather names and addresses.

2. Gather both e-mail addresses and Twitter addresses.

You’ll use them differently, but you’ll want to have both. E-mail is the best option for delivering full-blown pitches or press releases, while Twitter will help you build relationships.

When you have the names of the journalists you want to reach, use Twitter’s search function to find and follow them.

3. Start local.

Write down the local media outlets you believe are most likely to give you publicity, then visit the website of each. Most provide contact information for reporters (print), producers (radio and TV talk shows), assignment editors (TV news), news directors (radio news), and news personalities (TV news).

If you can’t find what you need online, call the media outlet.

4. Use The Google.

Turn Google into your assistant publicist. Set up Google Alerts for your book’s topic to help you identify journalists and bloggers who report on it. Research and add their contact information to your database as the alerts come in.

5. Hit the library.

Media directories are helpful, but expensive. Rather than buy them, visit the research desk at your local public library. You can find the right contacts for people at national networks, national and local talk shows, radio stations and talk shows, trade and consumer magazines, and daily newspapers. Resources include Burrelle’s Media DirectoryGale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media, and Gebbie Press All-In-One Media Directory.

6. Go online.

Use the Radio-Locator database to get contact information for radio drive time or talk shows. After deciding who is the best contact at a daily newspaper (fashion? food? religion? business?), use USNPL to build your list.

7. Pick favorites.

Identify the 10 to 12 media outlets that have the greatest potential to influence your book’s success, and study each one to make sure you know exactly where your information will fit. That will help you determine your best contact at that media outlet.

Use and reuse

Don’t build a list intending to use it just once. For one-time use, pay a service like e-Releases or PRWeb.

Create a plan for staying in touch with the journalists regularly. Send a press release to the appropriate category (local, trade magazine, radio talk shows, etc.) in the list when you have news to announce, send tip sheets offering helpful and relevant tips and advice, and pitch timely story or segment ideas to individual journalists.

Need help understanding how to communicate with the press about your book, whether you’re using e-mail or social media? The “Book Marketing 101: How to Build Book Buzz” e-courses — one each for fiction and nonfiction — teach what you need to know. Learn more about the fiction course at and the nonfiction course at .

What’s your best tip for building a media list for book publicity?

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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive the free weekly “Build Book Buzz” newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.

6 Responses to How to build a killer book publicity media list
  1. vicki sewell
    August 20, 2013 | 3:21 pm

    I really appreciate your posts. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 20, 2013 | 3:57 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Vicki. You are more than welcome. : )


  2. Larry J. Dunlap
    November 20, 2016 | 3:39 pm

    Like this, Sandy. Going to try and find someone in my local area who could help me implement this! Got this off your 365 day hint list. Thanks.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      November 20, 2016 | 3:59 pm

      Glad it’s helpful, Larry!


  3. Bob Powers
    January 28, 2018 | 7:02 pm

    Thank you profusely for another excellent list of marketing tips, Sandra. I greatly value your daily tips, 90% of which I print out, save in a binder, read and reread, and try to implement. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you’re the most valuable source of practical marketing advice that I’ve encountered anywhere – and I get a flash flood of email marketing advice every day.

    Sandra, this isn’t a media list tip, but it’s a marketing angle that maybe hasn’t been explored much. It involves that faithful old standby snail mail, but in this instance snail mail trumps email. There are, I’ve discovered, a goodly number of retirement communities around our country that have various types of social clubs. One of the biggest, if not THE biggest, is The Villages in Florida. They have a 2017 list of social clubs that runs into the HUNDREDS. Every kind of club you can think of: knitting, basketball, tennis, golfing, dancing, political, cooking – you name it. And among these are book clubs. And, for my particular niche, language study clubs. The lists provide not only the name of the club, but also the name and address of the organizer (and some other data). Sorry, no email addresses. Besides opportunities for promoting fiction to the book clubs, it seems to me there’s much fertile ground with they myriad other subjects for nonfiction writers. Anyway, just thought I might bring this to your attention in case it hasn’t already been brought.

    Keep up the great work! Your services are hugely appreciated.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      January 28, 2018 | 9:02 pm

      Thank you so much, Bob, for both the kind words and the tip. I SO appreciate both!

      I wrote about book clubs at this link: because I’m with you — they present so many opportunities for connecting with readers. And you don’t have to do it in person — you can participate remotely with Skype, too. Thank you for that suggestion.

      I’d also like to ramble on a bit about The Villages. Those social clubs include writer’s groups for just about every genre out there so anyone in that area should explore them, too. There was a good-sized contingent from The Villages at a Florida writer’s conference I spoke at a few years ago and they were the NICEST people I’ve ever met. I was able to sit with The Villages crew at every meal and enjoyed every second of my time with them.

      Thanks again, Bob. You’re the best!


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