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How to get trade journal book publicity

In an earlier post, “Trade journals: The book publicist’s secret weapon,” I wrote about trade journals and how they might fit into your book marketing plan. Today’s post expands on that by detailing the steps to follow to get trade journal book publicity.

A quick reminder about publicity: Publicity isn’t advertising. You can’t buy it; you can’t control it. Publicity is what you get when you’re interviewed for an article or on a talk show, or your book is mentioned in a short news item. “Trade journals: The book publicist’s secret weapon” lists the typical book publicity opportunities in trade magazines.

So how do you secure this exposure that means so much more to your book than paid advertising? Here are the six steps to follow.

1. Review several issues to see what kind of content they use.

Does the magazine have a “news brief” section where it might run a new book announcement? Do the articles include expert interviews? Does the magazine use guest columns written by subject matter experts (you!)? Does it run book reviews?

2. Find the trade journal’s “editorial calendar” online.

Editorial calendars outline the year’s scheduled content. It isn’t always all-inclusive, meaning, magazines will often run articles that aren’t listed on the editorial calendar. Still, if you can contribute to something that’s scheduled already, you want to let the editor know that you’d like to be considered as an expert source.

trade journal book publicity 2Here’s an example from Power Equipment Trade.

Google will help you find editorial calendars for your targeted trade journals if they’re published online. If the one you’re looking for isn’t, call or email the magazine and ask them to send it to you by email or regular mail.

Review the editorial calendar for scheduled content — columns, articles, special issues — related to your book’s topic or content.

3. Make a list of how you might contribute to the content.

What’s on that list depends on what you uncovered in your review, but it might include one or two articles from the editorial calendar, a list of article ideas that would be a good fit for the magazine and that could use you as a resource, or a guest column you’re qualified to write.

4. Match the magazine’s sections and articles with the staffer responsible for it.

Many times, the sections include the appropriate editor’s name as a credit. Staffers often write articles, too. Both are clues to who you should contact with your idea.

You can usually get the right editor or writer’s email address on the publication’s website under “editorial staff,” “contact us,” or “about.” You can also get editor and writer names from the printed publication’s masthead, which usually lists who does what at the publication. It’s typically near the front of the magazine, not far from the table of contents,

Write down what you’ve learned — who edits the news brief sections, which staffers write articles, and so on. If you can’t figure that out from either the print or online edition, email or call the magazine.

5. Map out your strategy.

You’ve got your list of how and where you might contribute to the trade journal; you’ve figured out who edits or writes which sections. Now you need to decide where you’ll start.

If your book is new, and if the publication includes book news in its news brief section, you might want to start by sending the right editor your book announcement press release along with an offer to send a review copy.

Or, if you are an excellent resource for an article listed in the editorial calendar for an upcoming issue, that might be your starting point.

Pro tip: Contact trade journal editors four months before the issue’s publication month.

6. Send your pitch.

If you’re sending a press release, copy and paste it into an email message. (Learn more in “How to e-mail a press release to a journalist.”)

If you’re offering to be a source for an article scheduled on the editorial calendar, say that in an email. Include information on why you’re an appropriate resource (your book and other relevant credentials).

If you’re “pitching” (proposing) an article or guest column, study their articles and columns so you understand what they want and use. Then follow the pitch letter instructions and sample in Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates to make sure you present your case appropriately.

Here are two more pro tips to help ensure success.

Bonus tip 1: Monitor HARO, PitchRate, ProfNet, and other services and respond when you’re a good fit for articles.

I use these services to find sources for assigned articles for trade journals; so do thousands and thousands of other freelance writers and journalists.

Learn how to respond appropriately so you get an interview. (Get tips in my free “How to Respond to HARO Requests” cheat sheet.)

Pro tip: Don’t respond to HARO and other media lead queries with “You should interview me. Call me.” You’ll be wasting your time.

Bonus tip 2: When a journalist calls or emails you for an interview, respond promptly. As in, as soon as you possibly can.

‘Cause if you don’t, she’ll find someone else to interview and quote.

This is important because if you’ve got a book that fits well with the regular content of one or more trade publications, it’s likely that a journalist will eventually get in touch to interview you as an expert resource for an article. You’re a natural source.

Case in point . . . a few months ago, I wanted to interview an author for an assigned cover story for a trade journal. I searched Amazon for the topic and found two authors who would be excellent resources. I emailed each of them — three times — without getting a response.

Then I called both and left messages.

The response? Silence.

A prominent quote or two in this cover story would have sold books to the magazine’s readers because they’re the target audience of both books. But the authors lost out. Obviously, they don’t care or they would have responded. But you do care, right?

Does getting trade journal book publicity take effort and thought? Yes.

Is it hard? No.

Is it worth it? Yes.

Publicity is valuable — more valuable than advertising. It has that implied editorial endorsement that goes far with your target audience. It tells them that the trade journal views you as an expert — so they should too.

That’s the kind of credibility that leads to book sales, speaking engagements, consulting work, and other opportunities. If it makes sense for your book, add it to your book marketing plan.

What topic can you talk about with authority? Tell us in a comment. 

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 for this post. I am just beginning the journey into marketing and this gives me a good starting point.

  2. Sandy, excellent post. I’m re-writing a book (fiction) on aging. (Indefinite, the Woman woman who regained her youth and more.)
    I’ve lined up bunch of longevity associations to contact. I even joined the Gerontology Society of America. I’ll see what happens.

  3. Thanks for this useful info, Sandra. Because of you, I pitched an unspecified article to a Dog Grooming journal and they worked me into their Halloween issue. I wrote about how my mother, Pearl, the subject of Pearl’s Party…and you’re invited dressed our pooches for Trick or Treating back in the 1960s.

    Observing Pearl’s unique lifestyle and attitudes for six decades makes me an expert in how to live a fun-filled, rewarding life. Friend to gay men, groomer of dogs, mother par excellence, real estate mini- moghul, restaurateur, divorcee, sculptor….Pearl did it all with style and gusto!

    1. That’s fantastic, Billie! Congratulations! You must be so pleased.

      Thanks for the feedback — I appreciate it.


  4. Thanks! I use HARO a lot. The others I had no knowledge of. I will make this my “to do”. As I release my book this month.

    1. Idelle, under bonus tip, click through on the link to the “How to Respond to HARO Requests” cheat sheet for a download that offers help.

      To find trade journals, you can Google “(industry or profession) trade journals” — packaging trade journals, for example — or use one of the media directories available at any library reference desk. My favorite is Bacon’s Magazine Directory but the Gebbie directory or others might also be available.


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