Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Securing print coverage beyond book reviewers

When many authors think of print coverage they think of book reviews. While it’s true book reviews provide great visibility for your book (especially trade reviews), it’s important to remember that opportunities for print coverage go far beyond the Sunday review section.

This week Nancy Rue ( was used as a source in a Chicago Tribune article titled, “The right way to talk about fallen stars,” on July 29. Rue has authored many books for tweens and teens, including upcoming FaithGirlz! releases Body Talk and Girl Politics: Friends, Cliques and Really Mean Chicks (Zonderkidz/HarperCollins, September 2007). Rue’s mention in the Chicago Tribune is a great example of how an author can rely on their professional credentials to secure media opportunities beyond book reviews.

It’s no secret that space for book reviews is slowly disappearing in major print outlets around the country. Some papers are getting rid of their book reviewers entirely (such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution) while others are increasingly relying on wire services for their reviews. Though many within the book industry are understandably upset with this trend, as publicists it just means that we have to get more creative with our pitch angles. We do this by thinking of ways to tie an author’s area of expertise to the stories that newspapers and magazines are looking to cover. Instead of focusing solely on the book, our publicity team will be pitching Rue as an expert source to comment on issues related to tween and teen girls – in this case, the lack of young female role models in Hollywood.

How can you apply these principles to your release? Have you thought about promoting your expertise on topics related to your book in addition to promoting the book itself? If not, you should. Sometimes being quoted as a source in an article can be just as visible as a book review. What’s more, if a reporter feels you’re a source they can trust, they will often keep you in their “expert file” of contacts for future stories. A number of clients we worked with years ago still get calls to comment on stories related to their expertise.

When major print outlets use you as a source they establish credibility, build your platform and encourage readers to find out more about you and your latest projects. If a media opportunity arises that doesn’t seem directly related to your book, don’t say “no, thanks” right away. It’s a way to get your foot in the door and presents an opportunity to plug your book.

Think outside the box:

•What are your credentials?
As literary publicists, we have to try to think beyond the book. It’s just the nature of this business. In fact, any good publicity firm will use author credentials as a major factor in their decision to represent a book. So, what academic degrees do you have? What companies have you consulted in the past? Are you a CPA? Worked with high-risk kids for 20 years? Do you have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do? Involved in any charitable organizations? How do these different experiences relate back to your book?

•What’s everyone talking about?
Lindsay Lohan’s latest fumble opened up an opportunity for Nancy Rue to be used as a source in the Chicago Tribune article. Have you heard anything going on the news lately that relates to your book or professional credentials? Do you feel confident that you could say something pertinent about it? What comments and ideas can you bring to the debate that differs from competing expert sources? If you are currently writing your book, practice connecting your message to breaking news over the next few months—it will pay off once your book releases.

•What news cycles are coming up?
The media operates according to editorial calendars that are used year after year. Though breaking news trumps seasonal stories, you can bet certain topics will be covered by print outlets around the country this fall. Think about ways that you can plug your message into these seasonal news cycles. A few of the seasonal stories that will be covered over the next several months include back-to-school preparation (August), Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and the most sought-after news cycle for authors: Holiday Season, which includes a wide variety of potential hooks, from weight-loss to family-focused/human-interest opportunities.

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