Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Leveraging National News to Promote Yourself and Your Book

Back in the days before the Internet, e-books, IPods and digital publishing, releasing a book was news.  The mere fact that someone had written a book was worthy of coverage in the newspaper.  Not anymore.  Technology has made it easier to get published, even if someone is merely writing their story in a blog.  The simple act of releasing a book won't garner big press coverage anymore, unless you happen to already be famous.

So how does an author get the attention of the media?  One of the best ways is to tie in your story with a big national story going on right now.  Bill Hanks, the author of Serenity:  It's a God Deal recently did an excellent job of doing just that. 

You have no doubt seen the public spectacle of Charlie Sheen's recent meltdown in which he bragged of his drug use, proclaimed he had "tiger blood", got fired and lost custody of his kids.  Bill's book is a very personal story of overcoming substance abuse, and he wrote an editorial about Charlie Sheen and the symptoms of drug abuse for the Tulsa World newspaper. Not only does this help the newspaper localize a national story and give them content to share with their readers, but it establishes Bill as a local expert on the topic of drug abuse.  The editorial does mention Bill is an author and plugs his book at the end. 

If Bill had just contacted the paper and told them he released a book, would the Tulsa World have given him this kind of space in their newspaper?  Probably not.  But, because Bill was able to tie his personal experience and expertise to a big national story, he was able to get across his message and promote his book at the same time. 

If you have a story that is emotional, informational or sensational, and you are able to tie that information to a national story, you will find it far easier to promote yourself and your book.


"Dr Liz" Alexander said...

Excellent "teachable moment," Terry. Yes, I'm always surprised at the number of aspiring authors who think even local papers are interested in the fact they've written a book these days. We must always keep the "so what?" factor and "what's in it for them?" in mind when pitching to the media.

As a former freelance journalist I respected and maintained contact with authors who understood that, even as a features writer, I needed to share stories with my readers--not "advertorials." I went back to these subject matter experts time and again when I needed insights and quotes, because they made my job easier.

Doing what Bill Hanks did won't just garner him current media attention. He's now on journalists' radar screens and, given the speed with which stories need to be written these days, the media tends (as it always has) to go first to their existing contacts for quotes. Bill has just boosted his "platform" big time...something every author who wants to sell (as opposed to simply write) books needs to understand.

Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

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