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How to Get Media Coverage for Self Published Authors and Books

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Self published authors can have a tough time getting media coverage. Read for tips on improving your chances of being considered.

Self published authors can have a tough time getting media coverage. Read for tips on improving your chances of being considered.

An author in an online group questioned if she should ask a friend to help make a connection with a reporter about doing a story about her and her book. While having a connection, like this author did, may provide an introduction to a media source, it’s no guarantee that any media coverage will result from it.

Getting mass media coverage for self published books is really, really tough. As a former trade newspaper editor for 15 years, let me share why that is.

Editors Don’t Want Your Press Release

Even though the trade newspaper I worked for had a pretty narrow niche, I was often bombarded with press releases from all kinds of companies that wanted me to include their stories in the newspaper. Most of them I tossed or deleted because I didn’t need them. I primarily relied on local industry associations and our supporting advertisers for news. With that I had enough to fill the pages without including those unsolicited press releases.

Like me, most reporters and editors have their trusted sources for news and research, and rarely need random outside tips and sources. That Hollywood-style scenario of getting a hot “stop the presses” tip in the newsroom from an anonymous caller is just not realistic.

Years ago, it was a popular suggestion that magazines and newspapers were looking for press releases because they needed to fill space. It really wasn’t true even then. But it was more likely in the days of physical print media when holes occurred in the publication’s layout. Those gaps made the publication look bad. Better to fill it with something that seemed somewhat newsworthy than to leave it blank.

Now with the infinitely flexible layout of the internet, newspapers and magazines have gone digital and don’t need to fill graphic design holes. Your self-serving and unsolicited news would create work and expense for them to post it to their sites.

Why Reporters and Editors Aren’t Interested in Doing Articles About Your Book

This is the one question that any reporter or editor asks when considering any news item:

What value does this provide to my audience?

Usually authors are selfishly thinking backwards about getting media coverage. They want themselves and their books to be the center of attention. Remember, getting media coverage is earned media. So you must earn these placements by providing value to both the media and their audiences.

Does Paying to Have Your Press Release Distributed by a Newswire Service Help?

There are popular and reputable newswire services (such as Cision/PRWeb) which can post your press release on their websites and distribute it to a search engines and media partners. These are fee-based services and the higher the price, the wider the reach and access to more influential media contacts. Prices are usually per press release.

There are some free services of this type out there. But, as you might expect, the distribution may not be as expansive or effective as some of the paid newswire services.

While reputable newswire services are valuable, paying to have your press release distributed by them does not guarantee coverage in any media whatsoever. Like everything in marketing and advertising, public relations (PR) is a long game that requires sustained effort. That could mean up to thousands of dollars a year for frequent press release distribution.

Press Release Tip

Don’t forget to write your press release in the third person! Media may post the text of your press release as is. This saves them from having to write or rewrite a story. Anything you can do to make a reporter’s or editor’s life easier makes it easier for them to give your news stronger consideration.

— Heidi Thorne

What About Media Contacts?

Like the author in the opening example, you may have some connection to a media source, be it a reporter or editor. Friend-of-a-friend type connections may be able to introduce you to their media connections. If you’re active in your local networking scene, you may also bump into media contacts who are fellow networkers.

However, don’t think that just because you know a media contact, or are able to get an introduction, that you and your story will be of interest to the reporter or editor. News about you and your book must have a relevant angle to the publication or the reporter's beat, and its audience. Otherwise, you’re just another random person looking for some free self-centered press.

Also, don’t hound media contacts, or your friends who have connections, about getting your story to run. If you submit a press release or story idea to a reporter or editor, they will only respond if they’re interested. They will not send a “rejection letter.”

What Can Self Published Authors Do to Get More Media Attention and Coverage?

Selling to the Media

Think of your press release or media pitch as "selling" to the media. You need to do your homework to determine what the media wants to buy. What they want is what interesting to their audience, with the least amount of investment on their part. If the only "value" you provide is news about you, you have little to no value to the media or their audience. And if you're going to be high maintenance—for example, you expect a reporter to interview you, take pictures, write the story, or expect premium placement in their publication or website, etc.—you'll be given low consideration.

Pitch a Story, But Not Your Story

When I wanted to get some media coverage for my business, I would ask the media if I could submit an article about a topic of interest to their audience. That’s totally different than pitching a story about yourself or your book. In this topic-based article, the publication will usually allow you to include a short paragraph at the end for your bio. That’s where you tell the reader that you’re the author of such-and-such book, and where they can find you and your book.

Use Social Media and Your Email List

The one type of media outlet that all authors can use for free is social media. Post your news releases on all your social media. Send those releases to your email list. These are media channels over which you have the most control, and where you have the greatest chance of your news being read.

Don’t Be Yesterday’s News

Even if you do earn a coveted media placement, realize that news is fleeting. While the internet contains a vast archive of news-based content, it quickly loses its value when more relevant or timely news comes along. Better to shoot for providing media with evergreen content with longer term search engine value.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 03, 2021:

Bill, glad to have a place on your speed dial! :) Keep sharing your amazing work here until that day when a book seems right. Given your photo content, there's a lot more to consider from a production standpoint than what other novel authors do. Thanks for stopping by and have a terrific day!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 02, 2021:

Great advice, Heidi. I’ve never published anything other than here on HP, but perhaps someday, and then I will have you on speed-dial. Thank you for showing your expertise.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2021:

Wow! Thanks, Bill, for the glorious compliments. If not in their back pocket, at least I hope I'm in their news feeds or web browser somewhere. ;) Appreciate your kind words, as always. You have a great week, too!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2021:

Thanks, Peggy! There are so many things that authors need to know for sure. Appreciate you stopping by! You have a great day, too!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2021:

Gyanendra, I sure do hope that some authors will avoid wasting their time and money after reading this article. Thank you for the kind words! Have a wonderful day!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2021:

You offer so much good information for authors of books to know. Enjoy your day today!

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on March 02, 2021:

Heiti, your experience in media world should help the writers in long run. They will save their valuable time. Then be free from frustration.

Thank you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 02, 2021:

Oh how I wish I was younger and gave a damn about publishing and audiences and marketing. lol You are a living, breathing resource which all writers should have in their back pocket for constant review. I praise the glory of Heidi! Writers out there, pay attention to this lady.

Have a fabulous week, my friend!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2021:

Flourish, I wanna be on your show! :-D That is hilarious. I should probably add info about doing your homework and trying to control the media. Love those stories. Thanks so much for sharing them! Have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2021:

Dora, indeed, many writers don't even think of these things. Then they wander into these areas completely unaware of what awaits them. I hope it helps. Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 02, 2021:

Thanks for reading, Linda! I do hope that writers find value in these tips. Have a great day!

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 01, 2021:

I’ve gotten more than a handful of press releases and inquiries wanting me to write an article about a particular artist and I simply say no now because there’s nothing in it for me. There was one artist whose agent reached out and arranged the interview and it was a positive personal interaction — not some impersonal press release introduction. Then with another one the artist wanted to control every word I wrote about him. Made me wonder why not just have the agent write the story they want told? Send that out and skip me! After that experience I’m saying no. Most of the inquiries I get are press releases with minimal personalization (for example, asking if the artist can perform on my show?!?). Someone didn’t do their homework.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 01, 2021:

Thank you for your very wise counsel. You usually offer information that writes don't think of, but need to know. Thanks for the education you give in your articles.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 01, 2021:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience, Heidi. Your articles are always useful for writers.

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