3 ways to pitch your book to the press as the perfect holiday gift

Every year at this time, newspapers, online news sites, and bloggers start thinking about their holiday gift guides. You’ll start seeing them in late November and all through December.

Holiday gift guide topics vary, but typical headlines include “10 last-minute gifts for under $20,” “The best gifts for cooks,” and “What to buy the person who has everything.”

Many authors notice these and email me to ask, “How can I get my book included in a holiday gift guide this year?”

Here are three ways to do that.

1. Propose a “roundup” of books in a specific category or genre.

A “roundup” article usually gathers up the best, worst, most, least, newest, top, funniest, etc. products related to a specific category or theme.

Here are a few ideas for book roundups — use them to think about what might work best for your book:

  • Best books for runners
  • Favorite instant pot cookbooks
  • Most popular new novels
  • Best books for getting fit in the new year
  • Top books for entrepreneurs
  • Favorite books for early readers
  • YA novels everyone’s talking about
  • New diet craze books

Pitch a roundup to specific, targeted media outlets using the instructions in “How to pitch a roundup article.”

To get your idea picked up by multiple media outlets, write and distribute a press release announcing your gift idea, instead.

Write your press release as if it’s a newspaper article — no hype, no superlatives, no selling. List the books you recommend for the gift guide, making sure to add yours near the top. Include a short description of each book.

Use a press release distribution service to reach as many relevant media outlets as possible with your press release. Here’s an affiliate link for my favorite service, eReleases.

If you don’t know how to write a pitch letter or a press release, you’ll appreciate the templates for each plus actual samples in Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates.

2. Propose a gift roundup built around a topic or theme.

Even I publish one. It’s my almost-annual gifts for writers and authors post.

The umbrella concept you select might be built around a budget, hobby, profession, the recipient’s age, or your book’s theme. Ideas to get you thinking include:

  • Best gifts for soon-to-be or recent retirees
  • 10 must-have gifts for under $20
  • Holiday gifts for health nuts
  • 10 kitchen essentials for foodies
  • Favorite gifts for the newly-engaged
  • Top teen holiday gifts

Follow the pitching instructions in point 1 above — either send an email with your idea to specific media outlets, or write and distribute a press release for wider exposure.

3. Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out — HARO — and respond to gift suggestion queries from journalists.

HARO is a free daily email service that connects journalists with sources.

The 800,000-plus people who use it receive three e-mails a day loaded with queries from journalists who describe what they’re looking for in a source and why.

In November and December, you’ll start to see queries for holiday gift guides. If you make the effort to scan those emails for these opportunities, you might get your book into a gift guide pretty easily.

The trick to getting selected as a source — all of which you don’t pay for — is responding to the right queries appropriately. Learn how to do that in my online course, “Get Quoted: A Journalist’s Strategies for Using HARO to Snag Book Publicity.”

It takes just a few minutes each day to scan the emails for gift guides that could be a good fit for your book.

It’s a more passive approach than making a direct pitch to just the right media outlet or sending out a press release, but it’s easier and takes less time. Just be certain to respond only to those gift guide queries that truly are a good fit for your book.

Respond promptly, too. Journalists who receive more responses than they need tend to accept those that come into their inbox first.

Finally on that point, read the entire request and follow the instructions carefully.

Promote your book as the perfect holiday gift this year

Make getting your book into a media outlet’s holiday gift guide a priority this year.

Whether it’s a blog, an online magazine, or a printed newspaper, your book will enjoy the boost that publicity always brings.

Has your book appeared in a gift guide? Please leave a comment telling us how it happened. 

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

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  1. Thank you! I just signed up for “HARO”. If I’d heard of them before, I’d forgotten them, and shame on me, because local reporters will occasionally call me for my perspective. Thank you so much!

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