4 book publicity facts that will help you succeed

Don't understand publicity and how it works? Here's a quick-start guide with four book publicity facts that will demystify the term.

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Authors often overlook book publicity when creating their book marketing plans. That’s usually because they:

  • Don’t know what it is
  • Don’t realize it’s a realistic option
  • Want it but don’t know how to get it

But those who understand key book publicity facts and are interviewed on television or a podcast? Or who see their book included in a media outlet’s “best of” list? Or are interviewed for an in-depth article on something they know a lot about?

Those authors are hooked on the power of publicity.

Not sure what it’s all about? I’ve got four book publicity facts that help demystify the topic and process so you can use book publicity to introduce more readers to what you write.

Fact #1: Book publicity is that free media exposure that results when your book title appears in a print or digital newspaper, magazine, or blog article or is heard in a podcast, radio, or TV interview.

With the growth of social media, that definition has expanded to include social media mentions. For our purposes, though, we’ll focus on just the news media.

The biggest difference between publicity and other forms of marketing – advertising, direct mail, sponsorships, etc. – is that you can’t buy it. You simply can’t pay for an interview with a legitimate news outlet.

In addition, studies show that publicity is 10 times more effective than advertising (which is when you pay for, place, and control the message along with when and where it appears).

That’s because of the implied editorial endorsement. The thinking is: If a journalist thought enough of you or your book to interview you or reference the book, you must be an expert (or your book must be a great resource).

While publicity is free, authors often pay for related services such as press release distribution (I recommend eReleases) or a publicist.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”Studies show that publicity is 10 times more effective than advertising” hide_hashtags=”true”]

Fact #2: Free press release distribution services and sites don’t actually “distribute” press releases.

Authors often tell me that they use free press release distribution sites, but this is one of those situations where you get what you pay for.

“Free press release distribution service” is a misnomer. Free sites don’t send your press release out to reporters, producers, editors, writers, hosts, or bloggers.

The releases sit on the service site waiting to be discovered. That’s better than nothing – and who knows? Maybe it will be found there and used.

Still, if you want to make sure your newsworthy press release or tip sheet gets distributed to the right media outlets and journalists, build your own media list or use a paid press release distribution service (see 1. above).

Fact #3: Book publicity is about more than sending press releases.

Press releases, especially book announcement press releases, are only part of the mix (although that release announcing your book’s publication is essential because it’s so versatile).

You should also pitch appropriate media outlets on story or segment ideas related to your book that you can contribute to as an expert source. 

To do that, study the media outlets, blogs, and podcasts read, watched, or listened to by your book’s target audience to figure out what sorts of articles and segments they run.

Once you’re clear on the kind of content they use, you’ll be ready to brainstorm article and segment ideas that you can “pitch” – propose – as an expert resource.

Many authors also pitch and write by-lined articles or essays on topics related to their books. These are often published with a writer credit that includes the author’s book title.

Fact #4: You don’t need relationships with journalists to get book publicity.

Oh, sure, if you have them, relationships help. But they’re not required.

What you need is an understanding of how the system works — which media outlets reach your target audience, how to find the right person at that outlet to contact, and what to pitch them.

When I was working for clients as a publicist, I got them featured in publications ranging from USA Today and Business Week to the front page of The Wall Street Journal without knowing a soul at any of those media outlets.

When my first book came out, I booked myself on nationally syndicated TV talk shows, appearing alongside celebrities that included actor George Segal, without any contacts at those outlets.

But what I did know was the importance of studying each target outlet to understand:

  • What they use
  • How my book or my client’s product, service, or story fit into that framework
  • How to determine the best person to contact
  • How to write a pitch that would get read

You can do this, too.

More resources on book publicity facts

I’ve linked throughout to several articles on this site that can help you take advantage of these four publicity facts, but here are a few more:

All it takes is time, a willingness to learn, and persistence. That last point is especially important. Even skilled, experienced publicists strike out frequently. But with persistence, they succeed. And so will you.

What do you need to learn about book publicity, or what advice would you offer authors? Share it in a comment.

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