Monday, August 10, 2009

Small newspapers find their place in the book promotion universe,

Some books will always make it into the New York Times or whatever turns out to be the most important U.S. newspaper in the event that anything happens to the New York Times. The point is that some books will always find book promotion opportunities in the largest and most impressive print publications. And the authors and publishers of those books aren't worried about the future of the top daily U.S. newspapers because, whatever the future is, the name brand authors and the renowned New York publishers have earned their right the be featured in the biggest and the best of them.

So where does that leave the other 99.9% of authors and publishers in the publishing world who seek print book promotion opportunities and who won't be featured in the New York Times unless they do something outrageous (and probably immoral, illegal, or both) or fall victim to something or someone so heinous that it makes the New York Times' radar screen (and who'd wish that on anybody?). It leaves them seeking out book promotion opportunities with smaller newspapers.

According to a recent Associated Press story, smaller newspapers may be in better financial shape than their larger-circulation competitors. Community newspapers apparently aren't facing a bleak future because of media consumers' shift toward the Internet, because smaller newspapers will always (or, at least, for the foreseeable future) fill a need.

Some communities aren't "lucky" enough to be bombarded with media options that the rest of us take for granted. And even those of us who live in (or just outside of) major metropolitan areas have only one reliable way to find out that, for example, yard waste collection has been delayed by one week, the local high school's drama club is selling tickets for their latest performance, or what's open and what's closed on a given holiday the local newspaper.

So if the Boston Globe really does fold (and, as a subscriber, I'm wishing the Boston Globe all the best for years and years to come), that will still leave all of the local weekly newspapers for those of us who want some old-fashioned print coverage for books we're promoting.

Those of us who seek book promotion opportunities will have to learn to add small newspapers to our punch list, if we haven't already. Book publicists who have always included small-circulation newspapers as part of book promotion campaigns can tell you, from experience, that dealing with small newspapers means that you're dealing with small staffs. Therefore, the dynamic of seeking book publicity opportunities changes.

It's hard to sell a small newspaper on the idea of assigning one member of its small editorial team to a story because, frankly, each staff members' time is precious. You have to help by pitching a local news hook and crafting your pitch so that it's enticing -- and then persistently offering other story angles until you've made the editorial staff member an offer that he or she can't refuse.

Plan B is to offer up your own article (again, with a local slant, if possible). That article can't be an ad for your book. It must be informational or entertaining, and ideally, it would fit the newspaper's style and format so the editor can just slip the story right in. You rely on your byline (the article's attribution) to mention that you're the author of your book and to provide the URL for your book's web site. You can also write a letter to the editor in response to a story the newspaper has already published -- again, using your byline to sell your expertise and, ultimately, your book.

If you can score an ongoing column with your local community newspaper, even better. You can also try your luck with small-circulation newspapers beyond your community -- and you can compensate for the lack of a local news hook by having an angle or article so compelling that the editor just can't resist.

So it's good to hear that small newspapers are doing well and can continue to be a part of book promotion campaign for a long, long while. And, as a newspaper reader, it's good to hear that any newspapers are holding their own. If I have my way, that will always be the case.

No comments: