Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of non-fiction, e-books and audiobooks. She is a former editor-in-chief of a trade journal.
An author for an online group asked if she should ask a friend to help her hook up with a reporter to tell a story about her and her book. While a connection, as this author did, can provide an introduction to a media source, it does not guarantee that media coverage will result.
Getting mass media coverage for self-published books is really, really difficult. As a former editor of a trade journal for 15 years, let me explain why.
Editors don’t want your press release
Even though the trade newspaper I worked for had a fairly narrow niche, I was often bombarded with press releases from all kinds of companies who wanted me to include their articles in the newspaper. Most of them were discarded or deleted because I didn’t need them. I mainly relied on local industry associations and our news support advertisers. With that, I had enough to fill the pages without including those unsolicited press releases.
Like me, most journalists and editors have their trusted sources for news and research, and rarely need random outside sources and advice. This Hollywood-style scenario of getting a “stop the press” advice in the newsroom from an anonymous caller just isn’t realistic.
Years ago, it was common for magazines and newspapers to look for press releases because they needed to fill the space. It really wasn’t true even then. But in the days of physical print media, holes were more likely to occur in the layout of the publication. These shortcomings made the publication bad. Better to fill it with something that seems a little bit newsworthy than to leave it blank.
Now, with the infinitely flexible layout of the internet, newspapers and magazines have gone digital and don’t need to fill the gaps in graphic design. Your interested and unsolicited news would create work and expense for them to publish it on their sites.
Why Journalists and Editors Aren’t Interested in Writing About Your Book
This is the only question any journalist or editor asks when reviewing a news item:
What value does this bring to my audience?
Usually, writers selfishly think about media coverage. They want themselves and their books to be the center of attention. Remember, getting media coverage is earned by the media. So you need to earn those placements by delivering value to the media and their audience.
Paying to have your press release distributed through a service Does Newswire help?
There are popular and reputable news wire services (such as Cision / PRWeb) that can post your press release on their websites and distribute it to search engines and media partners. These are paid services and the higher the price, the greater the reach and access to more influential media contacts. Prices are usually per press release.
There are free services of this type out there. But, as you might expect, distribution may not be as extensive or efficient as some of the paid wire services.
While reputable newswire services are valuable, paying to have your press release distributed by them does not guarantee coverage in any media. Like everything else in marketing and advertising, public relations (PR) is a long game that takes hard work. This could mean up to thousands of dollars a year for the frequent distribution of press releases.
Don’t forget to write your press release in the third person! The media may publish the text of your press release as is. This saves them from having to write or rewrite a story. Anything you can do to make a journalist or editor’s life easier to take into account your news.
– Heidi Thorne
What about media contacts?
Like the author in the opening example, you may have a connection to a media source, be it a reporter or an editor. Friend of a friend type connections may be able to introduce you to their media dealings. If you are active in your local networking scene, you may also meet media contacts who are fellow networkers.
However, don’t think that just because you know a media contact, or are able to get an introduction, that you and your story will be of interest to the reporter or editor. News about you and your book should be relevant to the post or pace of the reporter and their audience. Otherwise, you’re just another random person looking for a self-centric free press.
Also, don’t harass media contacts or your friends who have connections to get your story published. If you submit a press release or story idea to a reporter or editor, they’ll only respond if they’re interested. They will not send a “rejection letter”.
What can self-published authors do to gain more attention and media coverage?
Present a story, but not your story
When I wanted to get media coverage for my business, I would ask the media if I could submit an article on a topic of interest to their audience. It’s totally different from presenting a story about yourself or your book. In this topic article, posting will usually allow you to include a short paragraph at the end of your bio. This is where you tell the reader that you are the author of this or that book, and where they can find you and your book.
Use social media and your mailing list
Social media is the only type of media that all authors can use for free. Publish your press releases on all your social networks. Send these releases to your mailing list. These are the media channels over which you have the most control and where you are most likely to get your news.
Don’t be yesterday’s news
Even if you earn a coveted media placement, know that news is fleeting. Although the internet contains a large archive of topical content, it quickly loses its value when more relevant or topical information arrives. It is best to film to provide the media with evergreen content with longer term search engine value.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. The content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for personal advice or professional advice on business, financial, legal or technical matters.
© 2021 Heidi Thorne
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