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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Law Of Getting News Media Coverage For Books




While attending paralegal school in what seems like a lifetime ago, I learned to draft papers that provided a legal argument for a certain position, for or against something.  You looked at case law, government regulations, and general rule of law to help you make a cogent argument.  It was all very dry, though still up to interpretation, analysis, and clearly tied to the selection of specific cases that would determine how one would view an issue.  Writing press kits and pitch letters to the news media, though an act of persuasion, is quite a different task.  Perhaps the two practices should merge.

When you state your case to the media as to why it should pay attention to your book or cover you as an expert, you need to convince them of facts, sell them on ideas, and appeal to their personal sense of justice and passion.  This is not so unfamiliar to lawyers, who in addition to methodically discovering and sharing facts that support their side, will in the end, win over a judge and certainly a jury, with emotional appeals and the selling of personality.  As an author, think like a lawyer when trying to appeal to those who judge you – the news media.

In the case of lawyers and publicists, the words chosen to frame an argument are so very important.  All words have precise meanings, but many have connotations -- a way in which we feel, interpret and see these words.  We attach thoughts, feelings, even biases to certain words.  Sometimes, the words you use are more important than the reality they’re intended to reflect.

The burden of proof in a court of law is different than the arbitrary way a media outlet might be convinced to cover a story, but there is a similarity of process.  In both situations, one must advocate convincingly of their side or risk failure.  In court, some win their case by showing enough cause to doubt a conviction, but with the media the burden is always on the author or publicist to show why he or she is worthy of media exposure.

Lawyers have to present their case live, in person, on a neutral territory – a courtroom.  Authors and publicists do most of their lobbying by phone, email, social media, or by mail.  They rarely get to be in the same room, face-to-face, with the media, and if they are together, it’s likely on the turf of the media outlet.  But whatever the place or time one gets to appeal to the media, he or she must seize that moment and do all that’s possible to turn the opportunity into a point of closure, a moment of negotiated agreement.

Authors and lawyers are very similar.  They may resort to distortions, stunts, and factual withholdings in order to build their points.  They are supposed to be honest and respect the law, but they will bend ethically in order to find a way to convince others they have merit.  Just as lawyers will even defend those they believe to be guilty, authors will promote a book they know is far from being an award-winning best-seller.  They advocate to be heard, no matter what.

Maybe comparing the legal process to pitching the media is silly.  Lawyers are trained and licensed to do their job, while, publicists have no requirements and authors rarely have any training in book promotions.  Whereas lawyers can go to jail for lying, authors have no such fears when talking to the media.  Whereas lawyers may argue over huge sums of money, life and death, or human rights, most authors don’t have such things at stake.

Authors can and should learn from other professions as to what can help them be better at book promotions.  They should watch politicians, lawyers, car salesmen, and anyone who can provide insight on the powers of persuasion.  Everyone, at every level, from an escort to a Fortune 500 CEO, has some insight to offer about the power of sales and communications.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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