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Pitch your book to holiday gift guides

Would your book make a good holiday gift? Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll pitch it to annual holiday gift guides that run in newspapers and on websites and blogs.

These holiday gift guides are often built around a theme – gifts under $20 or $50, or for the person who has everything, runners, romance readers, knitters, and so on.

This type of article is often referred to as a “round-up.” A “roundup” usually gathers up the best, worst, most, least, newest, top, funniest, etc. products related to a specific category or theme.

Remember that roundups can be broader than books. In fact, if you come up with a “gifts for” or “best gifts of” topic that includes a wide range of product types, you might be more successful than if you focused only on books.

Here are the steps to follow to pitch the press on a holiday gift guide that includes your book.

1. Create your roundup topic and title.

Examples include “Best holiday gifts for writers,” “Teen gift ideas,” “Gifts for sports fans,” and “Top gifts for the health-conscious.” Written a mystery set in the Berkshire Mountains? Get regional publicity with a roundup on “Books that showcase the Berkshires,” or “Best Massachusetts-made gifts” or even “Best gifts for mountain hikers.”

(To get more gift guide topic ideas, read “6 ways to promote your book as a holiday gift.”)

2. Understand which media outlets are the best fit for your holiday gift guide idea.

October is probably too late to get into a magazine’s holiday gift guide because they started planning them weeks ago, but the timing is perfect for newspapers, websites, and blogs.

Decide if you want to contact just a few daily newspapers, most of them in a region, or most of them around the country. If you’re sending your idea to just a few of them, you can pitch via email. If you’re sending them to all daily newspapers with a circulation greater than 50,000, for example, you’ll want to use a press release distribution service (that’s an affiliate link for my favorite service).

Identify the websites and bloggers that reach your target audience and use this type of content. Consider TV talk shows in your local market as well, particularly noon news options and network affiliate morning programs that air in the early hours before the network morning shows (Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This  Morning).

3. Be clear on where your holiday gift guide fits into the media outlet’s content.

If you’re pitching a TV talk show, watch a few shows to see if they usually do demonstrations, “on location” segments, or studio sit-downs where you chat with a host. If you’re going after daily newspapers, know which section is most likely to use your idea — business? Lifestyle?

4. Figure out who you should pitch at the outlet(s).

When you’re pitching just your local media outlets, you can gather that information easily through each outlet’s website or by calling. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • For TV talk shows, contact the producer.
  • For TV news programs, contact the assignment editor.
  • For daily newspapers, contact the section editor or the reporter who covers your gift guide’s topic. For example, if it’s a “best gifts for foodies” idea, you would contact the food reporter or food editor. If it’s “top 10 gifts for small business owners,” it’s the small business reporter or business section editor. The right title depends on the newspaper size – the larger the newspaper, the more likely it is to have topic reporters.

5. Write and e-mail a great pitch letter.

holiday gift guides 2A pitch letter is a sales letter that needs to convince an editor, reporter, or producer that your idea is a good fit for that outlet. Learning how to write a solid pitch letter is so important that Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates has a fill-in-the-blanks form that walks you through the process and a sample pitch letter so you know what it should look like.

Describe your topic and offer your book as a suggestion as well as several other recommended gifts. Offer to send a copy of the book.

When you offer other gift ideas for the round-up, you’re doing two things for the journalist. First, you’re helping do some of the work. Second, you’re showing that you understand how these things work — that gift guides offer multiple gifts, not just yours.

PRO TIP: Use a search engine to look up a few gift guides from previous years. It will help you see how various media outlets handle them.

What would be a good holiday gift roundup topic for your book? Tell us in a comment.

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