Posted in book reviews, books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, writing

Indie Author Basics: Contacting Book Stores and the Media

Reaching out to media and bookstores can be intimidating for many authors. Initiating those contacts can be an important part of your marketing plan.

Newspapers

The first thing many authors might think of when considering contacting a newspaper is getting their book reviewed. Fewer and fewer newspapers provide book reviews anymore, but there are other opportunities available.

There are always paid ads with newspapers, but many papers also offer free briefs/PSA spots for announcements and events. Each paper will have their own guidelines, but in general: submit at least 2 weeks in advance of an event, write the in third person and don’t use passive language (Say “will host” instead of “will be hosting”), write in an informational rather than sales-y style, and provide all the relevant info (date, time, location, contact info).

You can also submit events like books signings or readings to newspapers’ community calendars, A&E section, calendars or event listings, or suggest a story idea to the Arts and Entertainment editor or reporter (especially if it’s a local paper and your book has local ties.)

If you do want to submit your book for a review, keep in mind that most papers will only accept paperback copies, not ebooks. You will also want to have a media kit ready with JPEG files of the cover and an author photo, as well as a description of the book, availability, ISBN, etc.

Radio

Radio interviews can be challenging to arrange. Most private radio stations will charge you a fee to be interviewed. It’s basically like buying airtime. Public radio stations will usually do interviews for free, but there may be fewer opportunities. Check out what types of interviews local radio stations typically do, and where you might fit best.

Podcasts

One of these days I’m going to get back to my Author Life podcast, so feel free to hit me up if you want to be interviewed!

If you’re not familiar with podcasts, they’re basically downloadable radio programs. They’re great because listeners can access them any time they want, and easily listen to older episodes.

Another great thing is that there are tons of writing-related podcasts out there, many of which accept guest hosts or interview authors. Check out The Author Hangout, Kobo Writing Life Podcast, The Self Publishing Show, and many others!

How do you get onto a podcast? Take the initiative and reach out to the host via their contact information published along with the show (Apple Podcasts) or on the podcast’s website. Follow the guidelines and pitch a topic, interesting writing-related story, or area of expertise.

It also a good idea to keep an eye out for posts on author groups. Many podcast hosts will post calls for participants in these groups.

Blogs

Ignore people who say blogging is dead or irrelevant. Lots of writers are still blogging and lots of industry professionals are too. It’s a great way to share content and spread the word about events and announcements, especially for people who don’t want to read long posts on social media.

Blog opportunities for writers include interviews, guest posts, promotional posts, and character interviews. Promotional posts or guest posts are sometimes paid opportunities, depending on the blog.

To get featured on a blog, pitch yourself! Check out the blog’s pitch guidelines, then make a case for why you have an interesting story, a book worth featuring, or a great topic to blog about. If it’s a smaller blog that doesn’t have guidelines posted, use their contact form instead.

Bookstores/Businesses

Bookstores love writers, but setting up a book signing or author event can be a little tricky, depending on the store.

Independent stores are more likely to work with independent authors. Traditionally published authors will often have an easier time getting in with big, chain stores than indie authors will.

The main reason for that is because big stores usually won’t take books on consignment, and if an indie author’s books don’t have a buy back option (most POD printers don’t allow this) then the store won’t order the book. Independent stores are more flexible.

When contacting a book store or business to set up an event, do so one to two months in advance. They may have other events planned or need to make sure they have staff on hand. Bookstores usually have a specific person in charge of setting up events. If that person isn’t listed online, call the store and ask who to speak to.

Be ready with specific details about you and your book, and have multiple dates to suggest. Ask if they charge a fee, if they will order the books or take them on consignment from you, what the profit split is (60/40 is common), and what equipment they will provide.

If you want to give an author talk or do a reading, ask specific questions about audio/visual equipment, location in the store/seating, and time frame.

Approaching a business requires most of the same rules, but you may also want to address why you want to have it there and what their fee is for renting the space. Coffee shops, libraries, conference rooms, restaurants, and business specific to the topic or theme of a book can be great alternatives to a bookstore.

Networking with Authors
Posted in marketing

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 4

To start at the beginning with your marketing plan, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Keep reading for info on contacting media.

Contacting the Media

old microphoneRadio

  • Local stations are great to announce local events (call, email, FB). Most are very friendly to local authors and have regular community activities announcements they can include your event in.
  • College radio stations are often geared toward academic interests and many are happy to share about your literary events and may have a show about books or writing that might fit your skills.

Internet Radio

Blog Talk Radio is the biggest internet radio service currently and there are many writing/book related shows. Many are interested in author interviews/book news/writing advice.

Podcast LogoPodcasts

Look for ones geared toward author interviews, writing advice, marketing ideas, book news, etc. There are hundreds of writing.book related podcasts and many are looking for authors to participate on a regular basis.

YouTube

Post your own interview or release post about your book. Share an excerpt of your book by reading it yourself or recording your voice to play with images related to the book. Use actors or volunteers to act out a scene from your book. Share advice or tips, or even discuss an event you attended like a video blog.

Blogs

There are thousands of book blogs online. Research what genres each blog is interested in reviewing, what type of posts they are interested in sharing, and what their guidelines are for submitting requests. Cold submissions can work, but you will be more likely to have your book accepted if you’ve done your research and interacted with the blog to build a relationship. This isn’t always possible with every blog, but do make an effort to follow their guidelines and only submit to blog interested in your genre.

Local TV

Not every town has a local TV station (mine doesn’t) but many local stations look for local interest pieces to fill out their broadcasts. Check out your local TV stations website and look for a “Contact” page. Most have an email address or form for “News Tips” or “Story Ideas.” Send them a professional media kit containing formation about your book and/or event and why it might be of interest to their viewers.

Contacting the media sounds scary, but there are many media outlets that are eager for guests/stories. Be professional and polite and take a chance.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.