Sandra Beckwith, a former award-winning publicist, now teaches authors how to be their own publicists. In this post she explains how to find media contacts to pitch to when you’re promoting a new book. – MVR
Plenty of tech-savvy authors know how to build impressive social networks they can use to tweet, post, and link to when they have a new book out. But many are less certain about how to announce their book to the press.
Announcing your book’s publication to the press is smart because it helps generate book reviews, short news items and author interviews, among other things.
The process isn’t hard, but it does take know how, time, and planning. You need two tools:
- A book announcement press release
- A media distribution list
Write a Book Announcement Press Release
A book announcement press release should contain information that journalists and reviewers expect, including a description of the book and information on the author’s relevant qualifications. A release must be presented in a specific format, one that includes an attention-getting headline and reads like a news article.
Don’t spend a lot of time figuring this out. My author-tested e-book, Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book, walks you through the process start to finish and will save you hours of research and time.
Create a Media Distribution List
With that done, you can focus on creating a custom media list to reach the people who are most likely to buy your book. It’s not hard, but it does take time. For help, consider hiring a college student, your sharp niece who’s still looking for a job after college, the smart stay-at-home mom down the block, or a virtual assistant.
With that disclaimer in place, here’s how to build a media list:
1. Create a database.
Use an Excel file or Word table with columns for each contact’s name, media outlet, email address, category (radio, TV, blog, magazine, etc.), plus any background notes. Fill it in as you move through the information-gathering process.
2. Set up Google Alerts for your book’s topic.
Google Alerts help you identify journalists and bloggers who report on your topic. Use alerts to research their contact information, then add it to your database.
Write down individuals or outlets you believe are most likely to publicize your book, 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).
4. Create lists of national media.
To identify who to contact at national morning news and talk shows, use Bacon’s Media Directory: Radio/TV/Cable, generally available at your local library’s reference desk.
5. Identify trade or consumer magazines.
Get editorial contact information for any publications that potential readers of your book may subscribe to. Use Mastheads, which charges a small fee, or a directory at your library’s reference desk such as:
- Bacon’s Media Directories
- Burrelle’s Media Directory
- Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media
- Gebbie Press All-In-One Media Directory
6. Find radio drive time or talk shows.
To identify potential radio interview opportunities, use the Radio-Locator database.
7. Contact daily newspapers. Decide who the best contact at a daily newspaper is – sports, business, food or religion? – and then use use the state-by-state newspaper list available at USNPL to build your list. You also can find journalists on Twitter using Just Tweet It’s reporter/press list, Media on Twitter or Journalists Tweets. With Google+, find a journalist you know reports on your topic, then study that individual’s connections to find other journalists who cover it, too. Do a people search by topic or subject on LinkedIn.
Keep Using Your List
You aren’t going to all the trouble of creating a media list for just one mailing. Use the list whenever you have news to share to send a press release to the appropriate category, whether that’s local news outlets, trade magazines, radio talk shows, etc. Likewise, use the list to send occasional tip sheets offering helpful and relevant tips and advice, or to pitch timely stories or segment ideas to individual journalists.
To avoid being misidentified as a spammer, distribute mass mailings through an email distribution service such as ConstantContact, iContact, AWeber, or MailChimp. If you have more money than time and want to pay a service to do mailings for you, my favorite is PRWeb.
Finally, keep in mind that sending an announcement press release about your new book is just the start of your publicity plan. But it’s a good start!