7 Book Publicity Tips for Authors and Small Publishers

The biggest mistake authors make when trying to get free publicity is pitching either themselves or their books.

Don’t pitch authors! Pitch issues. Don’t pitch books! Pitch entire shows.

Example: If you wrote a book about how children of divorced parents suffer long-term effects well into adulthood, don’t try to entice TV producers with the book. Entice them with an entire show around the topic of “Children of divorced parents: Do they ever recover?” Then suggest two or three other guests who tie into your topic and could be interviewed, preferably someone who is on the other side of the issue. If you can do that, you’ve just given producers an idea for an entire show, and they’re more likely to bite because you’ve done their work for them.

Here are 6 more book publicity tips:

–Be sure you have a good quality professional photo of yourself. I’m amazed at the number of authors I write stories about who don’t have photos I can use.

–Use a “tip sheet” in your media kit that ties into your topic. Example: You write a book about how to discipline children. Your tip sheet might be something like “9 Tips for Calming Your Child’s Temper Tantrum.” Each tip should be no longer than one or two short sentences. The media love these tips because they can reprint them as a sidebar to a longer story. See Special Report #16: How to Write Tip Sheets That Catch the Media’s Attention

–If you have a website, place the author’s photo and updated contact information at the site. Sometimes when trying to contact an author, I go to their website and then search in desperation for contact info.

–Don’t be afraid of controversy when it comes to book promotion. The more controversial you are willing to be, the greater your chances of coverage by the media, particularly broadcast. Radio shows in particular don’t want only light. They want heat.

–The author should write an opinion column taking a strong stand on one side of a controversial issue that ties into the topic of the book. Then target the column to the publication that is read by people who you want to buy your book.

–If you want to get into a particular publication, call the advertising department and ask for a copy of their free Editorial Calendar. This is a listing of all special sections and topics planned for the year. Review the calendar and find a specific issue where your topic would be a good fit. Then call the publication, ask for the name of the person who edits that section, and write or e-mail them with your story idea. Do this several months before the publication is printed.

Most importantly, unless you are contacting the book reviewer, most media people don’t care what’s between the covers of your book. They DO care about what’s inside your head, your expertise, and how you can help them. Remember that, and you’re well on your way to lots of free publicity.