How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book

Ken Brosky

Today’s guest post is by Ken Brosky. I asked him to share his experience because many authors have made the same mistake he has. Plus, his advice on how to do things right is spot on.

In addition to his post, I recommend you read one of my rants, I Hate Press Releases—and hopefully you’ll never end up wasting time OR money.


For the past two months, I’ve been documenting my attempts to promote my first short story collection on my blog in the hopes that other writers might be able to learn from my mistakes.

And boy, have there been some mistakes. But they’re the good kind of mistakes. They’re the mistakes you learn from and don’t make twice. They’re the mistakes that make for an entertaining story.

Take, for instance, my misguided attempt at conducting what the experts called PR, or—to the layperson—public relations. I assumed that in order to send out a press release, you had to spend money. Not only that, I also assumed in order to contact actual press—the keyword here, I think—you needed a professional company to do it for you.

Wrong. And wrong.

I ended up spending money on something that had no value to my book whatsoever.

First off, you don’t need to pay to submit a press release. You can do it for free. You can go here for a list of additional resources. It matters not. What matters is that your press release becomes available, ends up being indexed by Google, and ends up being read. Using a free press release website accomplishes all of this.

So what do those “paid” services end up doing? Well, apparently they distribute the press release to news media outlets. How many can depend on the company. Usually “thousands” is their general estimate. It sounds like pretty good odds. If the company I hired was sending my press release to “thousands” of news organizations across the country, I figured maybe a dozen or so responses to my press release would be a fair expectation.

The actual number? Zero. A big, fat zero.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t had some success with book reviews and press contacts. In fact, I’ve been incredibly lucky so far. I did an interview with Madison’s newspaper, which published a full-page article about the book. I had another newspaper from my hometown mention the book, as well as a local arts magazine feature story.

How did I do it? Easy: I contacted them.

I sent a personalized e-mail with details about the book and then I waited. That isn’t to say this avenue hasn’t come with its own number of failures—I still haven’t heard from the biggest newspaper in Wisconsin or any college newspapers—but that’s just part of the game. You’ll fail, but sometimes you’ll succeed, and if you learn from the failures, you’ll be more successful.

When it comes to paying money to submit a press release, learn from me: save your money.


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Ken Brosky

Ken Brosky

Ken Brosky has an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. His YA series The Grimm Chronicles is an award-winning fantasy adventure series about a hero who must vanquish the monsters of Grimm's Fairy Tales. His newest series, The Earth-X Chronicles, is a YA sci-fi adventure that spans time and space.

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29 Comments on "How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book"

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Sharon Bially

All true.  I’m a publicist, and even for big corporate clients press releases aren’t always the way to go.  Contacting the right reporters with the right story — at the best possible time — is the most effective way to go.  But the trick is knowing what the *right* tory is: in other words: what is newsworthy about your book or story?  Many authors think they know, but are slightly off.  This — and figuring out who the right reporters to contact are — is where professional help can be worth every penny.   

Debbie L.

Just like pitching a story to an editor, you need your “hook.” Reporters want the story. How does your story fit into that paper? What is a human interest angle to your story? Examples: *Local author inspired by Autistic Son.  Or *Author visits school where he learned to write*Clock store inspires book
*After 60 years of selling books, local man publishes book
*A cat in the library sparks best selling kids book

So ask yourself what the angle is, then contact that person. Some papers have someone dedicated to writing stories about books.

Also, it helps to network with your local media.

Sharon Bially

One more word on this: press releases are most effective when sent directly by e-mail to a targeted list of reporters, then given appropriate follow-up, including by phone.  Another task that can be done by authors but is often best left to the pros.

Meredith Rutter
Great article and reminder about the free routes available to authors. I ran an independent publishing house for eighteen years and had to learn a lot of this the hard way–over and over again! It always just seemed so much easier to pay a publicist (the pros Sharon Bially mentions) in addition to the in-house work we were doing in support of all the marketing efforts. Social media wasn’t the big thing for most of the years I was doing this, but it had started coming into play and we were way slow getting the hang of it; in fact,… Read more »
Marion Marchetto

Thanks for the links to the free websites. I’ve spent way too much time and money on people charging me for sending out press releases. With my upcoming series I’ll give some of these sites a try.

Shawn Spjut

Ken
Thanks for sharing your journey. Sometimes the abundance of information with regards to the do’s and don’ts of trying to get your writing out where it can be seen can be intimidating as well as bogus.

Jan Morrill

Wow — excellent information and links, especially for those of us just starting out of the PR route. Thank you, Jane, for introducing us to Ken Brosky. And thanks, Ken for sharing!

Susannah Greenberg PR
I agree that to the point pitch letters are better than press releases. And I agree that authors should go for it in promoting themselves to media. Indeed, authors must be their own marketers, publicists and advocates in these times.   But while personal contacts with media are important, I also think pitching to many media contacts is important.  And you will probably need a publicist, not a distribution service, to do this for you, and the publicist will do a better job than either a distribution service or the free press release sites.  I always pitch to both priority… Read more »
Jane Friedman

Really wonderful info—thanks for sharing, Susannah.

TNeal

 Appreciate hearing from someone in PR. You offer another perspective that’s helpful. I have a feeling that PR people are like writers. Some are better than others. You sound like you’d be on the “better” list.

TNeal

Excellent, timely article, Ken. John Locke has a book, “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months,” which focuses on connecting with your target audience. He would concur with the feeling that money spent on a PR company is not the best use of your financial resources.

For me, I’m starting with the local media outlets (interviewed for paper, will interview on radio) and building through my natural connections. Since I’m an hour from Madison, I’m especially attuned to your comment about the Madison paper.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Good piece.–Tom

Pamela Foster

Thanks for sharing this with us, Ken.  Live and learn, but there’s only so much money in the pot.  

Judith Marshall

I had a different response to paying for a release.  I actually got a couple of radio interviews, some blog talk radio interviews and one TV appearance on a major network.  The most important result was a response from a producer which led to the option of my novel for the big screen. 

Judith Marshall
Author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever”

Jane Friedman

Wow! Would you mind sharing which service you used? And did you pay for them to write the release as well?

Judith Marshall

I used the Jenkins Group in Traverse City, MI.  Yes I used them to write the release and distribute it, plus they sent me their media contact list of 1,854 media outlets for follow up.  Later,  I also distributed the release through PR.com which got me even more attention.  Everyone’s experience is different. 

Kim Kaze

Hey man, thanks for sharing.  You know, I suppose in my experience as a journalist I take for granted that anyone can actually talk and get through to anyone else, you just have to go at it the right way & be interesting but not annoying/weird.  It’s a great blog, I’m sharing it.

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Chapter 38: An Interview, A Guest Post, A Tip « The Death of a Dream

[…] “How to Get Media Coverage” over at Jane Friedman’s blog. She was curious to know about my “failures” so far … and I was more than happy to provide. After all, one of the main points of this blog is a reference for other writers (and those who generally enjoy watching someone suffer unneeded humiliations). I was thankful for the opportunity to write a guest post, and it seems well-enjoyed thus far by her regular readers. […]

Lexus

I agree 100%. As a former newsy, I will assume that the PR company did send the release to thousands of media outlets. Unless it was sent to a specific person, it most likely went to the assignment desk. And unless each pitch for coverage was tailored to appeal to each media outlet’s audience, it probably wound up in the assignment editor’s circular file 🙂

Dougie Brimson

Excellent advice. PR is incredibly time consuming but at the end of the day, the best promotion is word of mouth.

Don’t usually punt my blog but I talk about this here…
http://dougiebrimson.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/why-i-love-my-readers-and-why-their-reviews-are-so-important/ 

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[…] How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book over at Jane Friedman’s place […]

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[…] How To: How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book, by Ken Brosky – “For the past two months, I’ve been documenting my attempts to […]

Rachel
I’m a publicist. I liked your post but one of the biggest myths in book publicity is that pr people spend all their time just sending out press releases. A good publicist recognizes that a press release is a good medium to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time, but it’s only one of our tools in our arsenal.   Not everyone can be a writer as well as salesperson/marketer/publicist, that’s why they come to us.  Free press release sites are great and I use them but I wouldn’t rely on them for bookings.  I think instead of… Read more »
Susannah Greenberg PR
Agree with Rachel.  Expertise in public relations for books goes way beyond just sending out press releases and free press release sites are not going to do very much for your pr.  Targeting the right audience, the right media, knowing when and how to contact media, knowing how to craft a message, and now add to the mix knowing about all the social online communities which exist and how to best participate in them, these are some of the skills that need to be brought to bear on a good book pr campaign.  Some authors are born publicists, but most… Read more »
Cherry Odelberg

Short, sweet, to the point.  Click here.  Thank you, I think I will.

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The week in publishing (March 19 through March 25) | Self-Publishing Resources

[…] Jane Friedman: How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book Today’s guest post is by Ken Brosky. I asked him to share his experience because many authors […]

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[…] # # Jane Friedman‘s blog had a guest appearance by Ken Brosky. His article, “How to Get Media Coverage” is a concise post on how to avoid making the same mistakes he made in his attempts to […]

Khaalidah

These are the kinds of posts, I as an author desperately working on promotion, need to see. The fast and easy and cheap. Thanks so much.

Tim Moon

I agree, personal contact is the way to go. It’s more time consuming but more effective. It might be obvious but your local newspaper and weeklies are more likely to cover you than a national outlet or a paper from a city you don’t live in. Start there then branch out.

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[…] Whatever it is, you want press. […]

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