The importance of perception.
So far we’ve broken down the book marketing process by Month 6 and Month 5 prior to publication date. In this post we discuss what steps need to take in the fourth month before your book is published. During this post, we will discuss the importance of perception in creating book buzz not just to your audience but to media reviewers, bookstore owners, and booking agents. So let’s design a press kit, shall we?
Writing your media pitch
Pitch it good.
A well written or scripted media pitch is critical to creating book buzz with media. The pitch is what you offer to radio or podcast hosts, TV shows, and reporters or interviewers in order to book you as a guest on their show. A typical media pitch is approximately ten seconds
and it has to reach out and grab the attention of a busy reporter or host. Make it interesting, use humor (although keep it light, many people are humorless), and focus on what you can do for their listeners/viewers. Do it right from the beginning with a catchy headline. (If you need examples, just take a listen to the nightly news or common radio programs and how they pitch their headlines to hook a listener/viewer.) When possible, try to tie your topic into current headlines. There is nothing like being relevant to a story a journalist is already working on. Anticipation
of a few key questions with snappy answers are good to have on hand.
Always remember that hosts and reporters are busy. I mean, above and beyond busy. A good host or reporter has to keep their fingers on the heartbeat of everything going on in the world because they never know when or where the next big story might come from. A friend of mine is the booking agent for a local A.M. television show and she said it takes (on average) 5 phone calls or emails to catch her attention. Persistence counts here, but remember to be polite at all times and give a sufficient amount of time between emails and phone calls and follow up emails and follow up phone calls. No one wants to get a phone call about the email they just received two minutes before.
The reviewer letter
A pre-publication review is like a bird in the bush. Or something to that end. Seriously, having reviews of your book in anticipation of its launch generates major book buzz. Ensure you have ARCs (Advanced Review Copy) of your book for those reviewers who prefer a print book, and specific ARCs of your e-book to send out to reviewers. But, before all of that, you need to write and perfect your reviewer letter.
- Step 1: Personalization. Your letter should always been personalized to the reviewer and publication/site you are sending it to. Make sure in has your publication information (title, ISBN, publisher/imprint name, release date, and distribution), and includes a 75-100 word recap of the book. Make the fact you are submitting the book for review very clear; many writers use bold type. Personally, I include a brief 100-or less word bio and any details of upcoming book tours or media events. Do not include these last two items unless you actually have a tour and events booked. End the letter with a thank you, something personally and not generic. Offer to send cover art or any other information they might like to have. And make sure your contact information is easy to find and read if they have questions and need to reach you.
- Step 2: Follow Up. Don’t be surprised if, with your first book, you don’t hear back. Consider a polite follow up phone call or email to ensure the book arrives. Keep a list of everyone you sent the ARCs to, dates you sent them, and (when you follow up) keep track of how you are received: excited, noncommittal, rude. Cross off the rude one.
- Step 3: Due diligence. Most reviewers will not contact you when they review a book. It’s easy to set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever your name, book title, and/or company are mentioned anywhere online.
- Step 4: Thank you notes. Not all reviewers are going to like your book. They may not write a positive review. Even those that do like your book will always point out a flaw or weakness in an effort to appear balanced. When you receive a positive review, send a polite and short thank you note. When you receive a bad review Stop. Take a walk. Vent to the trees. Do not contact the reviewer. If the review seems unusually harsh, make a note in your spreadsheet and don’t send that reviewer future books. (Pro-tip:I used to send a polite thank you note to even the reviewers who disliked my books. However I learned quickly that while your intent is to thank them for their time, politeness can be misconstrued for snarkiness or bitterness. It’s better to avoid that possible miscommunication.)
Aren’t press kits for, like, important people?
Yep, and you’re important. It can be difficult at this stage of your career to feel important, but regardless of how you feel you are important. You’ve done (or are working toward doing) something most people never do in their lives: publishing a book. So it’s time to make sure you have that snazzy press kit on hand.
Press kits contain:
- Author bio, in varying lengths
- Book summary, in varying lengths
- A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
- Concise interview with you as an author
- Short book review.
Step 1: Author Bio. Already covered in the previous article Creating The Perfect Author Bio for Book Sales 5 month BEFORE Publishing, so we will go straight to the book summaries.
Step 2: Book Summaries. Reporters live for things to be easy. The simpler you make it for them to describe your book by pre-writing a summary of it, the happier they will be. Typically, I include a page with a 1-sentence summary, a 50-word summary, and a 100-word summary. I know of authors who include a 200-word summary. The bonus is that, while these are great for media, they are also super quick ways for you to grab a brief description for program books or enhancing your bio when needed.
Step 3: FAQs. Ever wish an interviewer asked you a specific question? The FAQs gives you a chance to ask all the fun, interesting questions you wish people would ask about you or your book. Maybe you want to let people know what an expert you are at something, or why you decided to write about that topic. Maybe you just want someone to ask about your personal quirks like your unmatched sock collection or the collection of grotesque artwork in your home. Whatever it is, you can include it in the FAQs. Just make sure you can tie it back somehow to your work. You can even use this time to drop story ideas for future work. If you’re lucky, sowing those seeds early will lead the media to promoting future books by mentioning upcoming new titles. (Pro-tip: Don’t mention anything that isn’t concrete. If you haven’t even written the future book, don’t mention it. If you’re in the final editing phase, then it’s probably safe to mention.)
Step 4: Self Interview. Yeah, it seems and feels weird. But a self interview can be a gold mine. Small town newspapers and magazines may pick up the article and print it word for word. Keep the interview limited to one page (500 words) and make sure to include all relevant data about the book including future books and any titles you have in your library, plus events and appearances you have scheduled.
Step 5: Book review. A ready-made book review can also be a big help to a reporter who is crunched for time. Focus on how original your story is and use positive (again don’t over exaggerate) language. Some authors feel the need to point out weaknesses in order to seem fair, but remember that not all reviewers do that so you don’t need to either. This is, after all, your book. You want to put all the good upfront to catch the reader and the reporter. Keep the reviews to one page (500 words).
Remember to include your press kit on your website, and always customize your pitches to individual reporters and reviewer letters to specific reviewers.
BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction, as well as use her celebrity to advocate for others.
Coming soon: Karaoke Jane