When my third traditionally published book was released years ago, my local Barnes & Noble didn’t stock it because it was on a niche business topic – nonprofit publicity.
When I visited the store to talk about getting it on shelves there, the store representative said that wouldn’t be possible. There wouldn’t be enough demand for it, she said.
She changed her mind quickly, though, when I told her the local daily newspaper was interviewing me for an article on the topic and that I’d be speaking about it at a local conference.
That’s because she knew that the local publicity would help sell books.
Local book publicity tips
Would you like to sell more books locally, whether it’s through local stores or online retailers? Here are tips for getting the free local publicity that can help make that happen.
1. Research your local media outlets.
- Daily newspaper
- Weekly community newspaper
- City business journal
- Radio stations
- TV stations
- Community bloggers
After you’ve identified your local media outlets, read/watch/listen to them so you can identify the publicity opportunities.
What kinds of articles do the daily and weekly newspapers use? Do the radio stations have talk shows with guests? Do the TV stations have early morning or noon news casts that feature in-studio interviews with community residents?
2. Determine where you fit in.
Studying how each media outlet handles news and information helps you figure out where you fit in at each.
For example, you might discover that anything related to your book’s topic is too “soft” for TV evening newscasts focused on hard news. But you might see that the local noon news broadcast often has a sit-down interview with a news anchor and someone in the community who’s doing something interesting – you.
And you’ll probably see that weekly newspapers cover just about everything. Honestly, they’re a gift to local authors because of that. They’re also widely read because they’re hyper-local.
3. Get contact information for the section or segment that makes the most sense.
Once you understand where you might fit in to the programming, determine who to contact at each. (Learn how to do that in my article, “How to build a killer book publicity media list.” Tip #3 is especially relevant.)
4. Figure out your “news hook” – your angle.
A journalist needs a good reason to interview you. What can you talk about that will interest a diverse audience?A journalist needs a good reason to interview you. What can you talk about that will interest a diverse audience?Click to tweet
If you’ve written a book about composting, for example, you might pitch the newspaper on an article about local businesses providing composting bins in office kitchens, or about how to compost at home.
A romance novelist might pitch an article on how to add romance to your staycation this summer. (Get more fiction news hook ideas in “Finding the hidden news hooks in your fiction.”)
Ideas like this can work for radio and TV talk shows, too.
For a community blogger or weekly paper, “local author writes book about X” or “local author sets new thriller in (your community’s name)” is often enough. That sometimes works for local TV talk shows, too. It depends on the size and sophistication of your market.
It’s rarely enough for a daily newspaper, though. (And bookstores pay attention to dailies, so if leveraging publicity to get store distribution is your goal, you want publicity in your daily paper.)
5. Propose your idea.
We call this a “pitch.” You’re pitching your article or segment idea or topic.
You do this via email. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- When pitching radio talk shows, offer to provide questions in advance for your host to ask.
- With TV talk shows, you’ll need an interesting visual – a prop. If it’s a “local author writes book” segment, your book will be enough.
When I was a guest on “Home & Family” talking about how to get a good holiday gift from the man in your life, I brought the winning entries from my “Worst Gift from a Man” contest.
- For daily newspapers and magazines, help the reporter by suggesting other people to interview for your article idea.
- Understaffed weekly newspapers often welcome articles that are written for them. Offer to do that.
Need a little help? I can give you shortcuts that save you time! There are templates and examples for media pitch letters and sample questions (and many other book publicity tools) in my Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates. Get your copy now.
You can do this!
I always advise authors to start their publicity efforts locally to get the experience needed before approaching national outlets. Starting locally also helps you figure out which hooks or angles resonate with the press.Starting locally with book publicity helps you figure out which hooks or angles resonate with the press.Click to tweet
Local media outlets are also more forgiving of a pitch that isn’t as slick as what they might receive from a publicist with far more experience. If they see a germ of a good idea, they’re more likely to hang in there to determine if it will work.
Most importantly, they want a good story. If you’ve got something to say that’s interesting to your local community, you’ll get a fair shot at it.
The resulting visibility will help you sell more books in person and online, boost your profile locally, and open doors to other opportunities that can include public speaking and consulting. Give it a try!
Have you received local publicity? Tell us about it in a comment!
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