Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Getting Media Coverage For Books Despite The Elections, Olympics, Terrorism

Authors struggle to get media coverage for their books on a good day, but how do they breakthrough when there’s really big news going on?

Just look at recent headlines. They were dominated by two political conventions, multiple terrorist attacks, a coup in Turkey, cop killings, innocent blacks shot by cops, and the usual mayhem experienced in cities across the country.  Then you have stories that are brewing, such as Zika outbreaks, the Olympics, and local political races.  Add in the usual coverage dedicated to celebrities, pro sports, extreme weather, a gyrating Wall Street, and the newest regular beat – mass shootings – and the media landscape becomes a tough nut to crack if you are an author, especially of fiction.  So what’s a writer to do?

First, create really good press kit materials, customize an accurate media outreach list, and identify who you should be targeting.  Present the best you, regardless of what the media is covering.  Identify your most interesting story angles and talking points and give them your best shot.

Second, look at what’s being covered by the media-and peer into the upcoming news cycle to look for ways to tie your message into what they are interested in.  You can’t offer more of the same.  Think about what you can offer that’s new, unique, or contrarian.  Be controversial, be shocking or be extremely useful with advice and insights on how to prevent something from happening or how to fix a current crisis.

Third, you can sit things out and wait until huge news stories blow over so that you don’t compete with them, but I generally don’t advise this. Books have a limited shelf life.  Unless you delay the actual release of a book, merely missing days or weeks of pitching the media guarantees you’ll receive zero coverage.  You might as well try to get some attention no matter how futile you believe such an attempt would be.

Four, look to see what competing authors are doing to get media coverage.  Copy what works.

Fifth, focus on obtainable, media.  Instead of contacting the New York Times, CBS This Morning, and NPR’s Fresh Air, try your local media, smaller blogs and podcasts, and some radio.

Sixth, when the major media is absorbed or consumed by a huge story - scandal, violence, politics – spend more time trying to create attention through your social media network. Build up Twitter connections, post more to your blog or FB page, or experiment with another medium, such as video.

Seventh, don’t despair or resort to using media saturation as an excuse to do nothing or accept failure. The news still covers more than one story and no matter how dominant a single story appears to be it eventually fades away.  You need to push and get creative to secure media coverage.  No time to lick your wounds or drown your sorrows in wine.

Eighth, dig deep for ways to connect your background, experiences, book, job, or schooling to what’s in the news. If you really have nothing to use, then play up your weakness as a strength. If you can’t find a way to compete with what’s in the news, offer the opposite. If you have a good humor book, pitch yourself as comic relief for a time when the world is so serious, sad, and dangerous.  If you have an escapist novel, present it as a great way to imagine a world without the turmoil that dominates our thoughts.

Lastly, if all else falls short, consider hiring a publicity firm that specializes in books.  Sometimes the professionals with media contacts can bust through the barriers writers feel when seeking out media coverage.

Good luck in doing battle for media attention.  It may help if you kill someone or run for a high political office, but if you can’t work that out, follow this bit of advice – find something to say that out, follow this bit of advice – find something to say that you believe in that you think others need to discover and do all that you can to make your voice heard. 

Someone will listen if you truly have something of interest or importance.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016.

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