Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A book promtion opportunity -- if you make it happen.

Here's a book publicist's dream come true.

A client emailed me yesterday and said, "My topic is in the news, bigtime. Please send out a pitch to the media for me."

I agreed that the news story was perfect, and now would be a good time to pitch the media on scheduling interviews for my client. That's how book promotion works best. The author's topic is in the news. The book publicist contacts media outlets, and pitches the author's expertise or opinion or insight, and the media schedules interviews.

Further, I gave my client some guidelines for providing me with the raw material I needed to create the pitch. As a book publicist, I have a preferred style for pitches that I have found to be most effective, so I told the author, "Here's what I need."

After a couple of rounds, the author sent me an email saying, "I'm sorry we missed this opportunity."

That's a book publicist's nightmare. Of course, I emailed the author back and said that we haven't missed this opportunity. (This is an ongoing news story, as it happens.)

However, what makes this a book publicist's nightmare is that the author wouldn't provide me with what I needed to help her. She's right. This news story is providing such a great opportunity for her to receive book promotion hits. However, here's what the author fails to realize.

To promote yourself, you must have something unique: expertise, a controversial opinion, or at least a perspective or insight that's different from what everyone else has. In other words, to garner interview opportunities, you have to frame yourself as a worthwhile guest.

A book publicist can't approach the media and say, "Hey there. I understand that you're busy, but please consider interviewing an author who's saying the same thing as everyone else you're interviewing on the topic." A book publicist (if she wants to receive book promotion opportunities) must say, "This guest would add the following to the ongoing discussion," or "This expert offers an insight that your readers/listeners/viewers haven't yet heard, which is...."

No author has ever received a book promotion opportunity on the basis of pitching the media with, "I have nothing special for you, but interview me anyway, please, because I have a new book out." Well, I take that back. A bestselling author might be able to get away with that pitch. However, authors who aren't yet household names must work for their book promotion opportunities. They must prove that they're worth the airtime/editorial space, and they're worth the reporter/producer/editor's time. More importantly, they have to prove how they will keep the audience from turning to another station or channel, or bypassing that page without reading it (which, obviously, would not please advertisers).

Pitch your unique/controversial/discussion-enhancing opinion or insights, and you'll get the book promotion opportunities. Say to your book publicist, "No, I won't offer that. Just go ahead and pitch me," and -- I guarantee you -- you'll have a book publicist who is living out the nightmare: lost book promotion opportunities, and an unhappy author.

Read. Learn. Do.

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