Media Do's and Don'ts for Authors
Launching a publicity campaign can be an overwhelming process, and it takes time for new authors to learn the ropes. When it comes to dealing with the media, many first-time authors have a laundry-list of etiquette questions: Should I send a thank you note to a host or journalist after an interview? Can I call a reporter to let them know I enjoyed their story about me? How often should I mention my book during an interview? We’ve put together a list of five general do’s and don’ts for authors who are dealing with the media for the first time:
Do: Send a thank you note to a media contact after an interview
Feel free to send a nice card via snail mail or a short email to a publicly available email address letting a journalist or host know you appreciated their time and that you enjoyed the interview. Not only is this a friendly gesture, but it could establish a long-term relationship with that particular media contact. If you leave them with a favorable impression, they might even think of you the next time they need an expert source or a quality guest for their show.
Don’t: Repeatedly call or email media contacts following an interview
It’s one thing to establish a professional relationship with a friendly follow-up note to a media contact, and quite another to pester them with incessant emails or phone calls. Respect the media’s schedule and their privacy, or you could end up burning more bridges than you build.
Do: Refer back to your book during an interview
It’s important to specifically reference your book’s title during an interview—especially if it’s a broadcast interview, or if the interview topic isn’t about the book itself. You may be on a talk show to discuss a breaking news item relating to your book’s topic or your credentials, so it’s up to you to incorporate your book into the discussion when possible.
Don’t: Shamelessly plug your book during a broadcast interview
While it’s a good thing to mention your book in an interview, only do this when applicable. In other words, it’s okay to refer back to your book when it actually adds something to the subject at hand. However, if you continually mention your book from out of left field, it will come off as blatant self-promotion.
Do: Treat the media with professional consideration
If you have an interview scheduled with a writer or radio show, it’s important to call on time, but also to be flexible if that time changes. Breaking news often dictates the media’s schedule, so you may have to adjust accordingly. Also, if you’re calling for a phone-in radio interview, set aside a quiet space from a landline—no cell phone interviews in rush hour traffic!
Don’t: Respond to negative reviews
Of all the missteps an author can make when interacting with the media, responding to negative reviews is perhaps the most glaring. Online book reviews are often a large part of a new author’s media campaign and, while they are a great tool for building buzz around new titles, they can also be a dangerous forum if you take a negative review personally and respond accordingly. Whether by posting a comment on a blog or writing directly to a book reviewer’s email address, airing your grievances about a negative review only makes you appear unprofessional and burns bridges with other book reviewers who might otherwise feature your book.
Follow these few rules of thumb, and you’re on your way to successful media relationships.