Ever seen an article in a local (or even national) magazine, newspaper or online about an author you’ve never before heard of who has a new book out, or tuned into the radio and heard an interview with the same? Ever wondered how they managed it? Here’s how…
Unless you happened to know someone very well who works in the media and can pull a few strings, you will have to contact the media to let them know details about you and your book. The normal way of doing this is to put together a short press release – no more than two pages – which includes a bit about you and your book, and why this is of interest to the journalist you’re writing to.
If you’re with a big publisher, they will undertake some marketing for you, but if you self-publish or are with a smaller publisher, all the marketing will be up to you. The more marketing you do, the more books you will sell.
Normally the ‘hook’, i.e. the bit that gets the media interested, is that you’re local. Alternatively, it could be that the location where your story is set, is the area where the radio station, newspaper, etc. is based. Either way, make the local connection abundantly clear in the press release and your cover letter.
Generally, all correspondence with media these days is done over email, so you will need to find their email address and make sure you’re addressing your mail to the correct person. You can do this by researching online – most of this information is freely available if you search for it – but this can take time.
You can try to call the news desk, or forward planning for radio, but journalists answer their phones very infrequently, if at all. However, you may have more luck with a phone approach with radio, so it’s definitely worth a go.
If relevant, you could tie your press release in with a particular awareness day, e.g. if your main character is living with breast cancer, you may want to try approaching the media on the run-up to October – breast cancer awareness month. Be aware though – national and glossy regional magazines can have up to a 4 month lead time! Radio works day-by-day and weekly newspapers work two weeks in advance. Online is pretty instant.
Visual media (magazines, online, newspapers) will most likely request an image if they decide to use your story. This could be an image of you and/or your book. Make sure you have both available in high resolution (min. 300dpi). If your image is not high res, printed media will not use it as it will come out pixelated. For online, the resolution can be lower.
Radio stations are a good shout if you’re trying to raise awareness through media. I suggest trying your local BBC station. Commercial radio stations (such as Heart) are extremely unlikely to touch your story as they survive on advertising revenue – something you won’t be offering unless you have several thousands of pounds to part with.
If the BBC station is interested in your story, they may invite you to be interviewed. Snatch this opportunity with both hands as they don’t come along very often! They will not ask you to pay for this and you will not be paid. Chances are, they’ll want you in the studio, as this will give them a better quality of sound. The interview may well be live, so it can be scary, but it’s well worth doing for the publicity opportunity it affords you.
Like anything else, media is a long game. Don’t expect to get one press cutting or do one radio interview and to be propelled into the limelight or sell hundreds of copies of your book. This is extremely unlikely to happen. However, appearing in the media is excellent for your profile as an author and is good experience for when you do reach that best-seller status!
Good luck with generating that all-important media attention. Go get ’em, tiger!