Thoughts on Promoting Your Book

As a writer/author and radio host I get to see book promotions from both sides. I am always marketing my books, and I'm also getting pitches and press releases from other authors and PR companies. Here are a few suggestions that I have for authors based on both experiences.

1. Never send a press release as an attachment. Media people delete these immediately. It takes time and computer space to download them and open them up, and many attachments come with viruses so who wants the bother? Put your press release in the body of an email and give all the appropriate contact information in case someone wants to see more.

2. Think of the newspaper/radio/magazine audience's needs and desires FIRST. How does your book address those? How will your book help that audience or resonate with them? Put that in your pitch. "Your listeners need..." or "Your readers want to..." and finish that sentence so that the person on the other end knows you've done your homework and realize what their audience wants to hear. Always think about how your book will solve THEIR needs and problems and pitch accordingly.

3. If you've been lucky enough to get a spot on the radio or TV, don't assume that the host will lead the entire discussion. Provide them with bullet points for discussion. Make their job easier. Send them an extra book or two to give away.

4. Go heavy on the local contacts. If you want to have your book featured on NPR, for example, start with all of the regional NPR programs in your area. Don't just send a book to a national program and leave it at that. Send letters and books to all of the local affiliates first. Provide them with talking points that relate your book to the concerns of people in their listening and reading audience.

5. Always come prepared with stories. Short stories about how you came to write the book, how the book relates to local people and places, or how your book fits in with what's happening right now in the area will help cement the book in the audience's memory.

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  • Margaret,

    If I were you I'd get my hands on some honest to God cotton balls, and send one to talk radio hosts and newspapers, along with a printed pdf that shows the book cover, you and perhaps a photo of a cotton field. Start it off with something like "The enclosed cotton ball feels pretty soft and non-threatening when you take it out of this envelope, but imagine living in a covered wagon and bending over to pick thousands of these every day."  Or something like that which will make your pitch to them involve one of the other senses: touch. (I just sent out some advance PR for my book "Coffee for Roses" and enclosed a small packet of ground coffee in each one. The aroma is the hook for that one.)

    Don't wait for your publisher: prepare a press release and send it yourself. Do you live in the area where the book takes place? If so, play up that local angle.  Send the press release to all local newspaper book reviewers and lifestyle editors - send an actual letter, followed up, perhaps, by an email -  and if you can have the publisher send review copies to the same people that's even better. Send the PR to the newspaper in the town you graduated high school in. (Hometown Girl Makes Good approach)

    I'd also research every town where "cotton is king" and send your press release to those papers. The hook there is local too. First sentence of your cover letter could be "I know that in XyZ cotton is king, so your readers will resonate with my new book, Just Passing Through."  Then go on to give a couple of sentences to show how their readers will relate to it. "In this book the abc family puts up with the same weather you have in XYZ, but they do it while living in a covered wagon."

    Have you visited every bookstore within driving distance and introduced yourself to the manager and offered to do a signing? 

    Planet Money on NPR just did a piece following a Tshirt being manufactured. It was replayed on All Things Considered - part of that report took place in a cotton field. So listen to that and then send a letter to ATC and Planet Money tying your book to that program. 

    That's off the top of my head,


    • Thank you very much. Your reply is greatly appreciated and welcomed. With your helpful words and receiving my first royalty has turned out to be a wonderful day. 


      Margaret Tutor

    • Congrats! Seems like the "Year of the Lucky Horse" is off to a wonderful start for you. What's the name of your book?

    • Excellent! Simply excellent advice, guidance and creativity.

  • Very good advice. I've done tons of media over the years but I've noticed that the people in media these days have changed. Quite frankly, they don't think they way media people used to. I feel that certain points you addressed speak directly to that...

    • Maybe media has changed in the way that most else has: less money so smaller staffs. Might this account for what you've seen, Marshall?

    • Nope, not at all. Their mentality has changed. Stories that would be obvious 10 - 20 years ago now get blank, dumb founded looks. As the focus narrows, it seems so has the ability of people at some of these news outlets to even think. A politician noticed the beginning of this back in the late 80s and mentioned it to a famous local reporter/anchorman that I knew. I only never considered that it would get as bad as it has today. In some cases, the only word to describe it is 'pathetic'. 

  • I agree! The key, in my experience, is determining how a book / story ties into the current news. Answer that, write a great one-page release (don't forget contact information!) then send it to associate producers (TV and radio) and book editors (Print) should get you some coverage.

  • "Just Passing Through " by Margaret Tutor release date is February 11, 2014. I started promoting my book as I was writing it. My first promotional materials was business cards,  which  displayed a picture of the book cover . I also ordered postcards, which also served as bookmarks. At Halloween I included a business card with the candy that was given. 

    • Make sure, Margaret, that you have your target audience in mind in every promotion that you do. Who will love Just Passing Through? Who will this book resonate with most? And who speaks to those people? Which bloggers, radio hosts, local media folks etc are your target audience following? Those are the people who need your postcards/business cards/press releases.

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