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Do-it-Yourself Outreach: Advice from a PR Pro

by | Feb 20, 2012 | Writing Matters Blog | 1 comment

This guest blog post comes from writer and publicity expert Erin Flynn Jay of Flynn Mediaand it goes out to all the book authors. In these lean times, you’ll probably have to do your own PR. Read Erin’s practical suggestions on how to draw attention to your book.

“Many authors decide to promote their own books. Are you publicizing yours? Perhaps your publisher is not allocating a lot of in-house PR for the book, and you don’t have a budget to hire a PR firm. If this is the case, it will be important for you to do some PR for your own book.

I’ve been in the book PR business for over 10 years, working for agencies as well as my own author clients. Here’s how to best do it without annoying busy editors:

Determine your target media.Who do you want to cover your book? To start, I suggest developing a list of 20 to 30 editors, reporters or bloggers. If you write about parenting, what are the key parenting magazines and online outlets? Ask yourself, “How can my book benefit this contact’s audience?” Nothing annoys editors more than receiving pitches that are completely off-target.

Track down editorial contact info. This will be easy to do via the Internet. Better yet, have an assistant do it. Email addresses and direct phone numbers are key.  

Customize your email via an intro pitch. This pitch should be two to three paragraphs on the book and on your author background. Always try to tie your book into what is happening in the news. If you have time, go even further: Research what these media contacts have written, and suggest a story idea that would complement what they have covered prior. Here’s a sample intro pitch:

Story Idea: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People
The place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the Christian churches is a highly controversial and debatable issue now. Rep. Michele Bachmann is one politician with an aggressive anti-gay agenda.

As a gay activist and gay Christian writer, Keith Sharpe challenges ignorance and prejudice about LGBT people. His new book, The Gay Gospels, stands against the ‘clobber texts’ which condemn gay people and powerfully affirms that gay lives are validated in the Bible.

The Gay Gospelsoffers a strong defense against the ‘clobber texts’ with a powerful affirmation that gay lives are validated in the Bible, all grounded in Biblical scholarship and written in popular accessible style.

The subject line is key. Media are bombarded with hundreds of emails daily–What will interest them to open yours? Make it short and make it sell.
Here are a couple of sample subject lines:

  • Story Idea: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People
  • Interview Opportunity With Gay Activist and UK Author Keith Sharpe  

Send the email and then follow-up
. How often, what is enough? A few days later, try a follow-up email first, and see what comes back. If you don’t get a response, call them. Try to get these contacts on the phone Live before leaving voicemails. Always better to get an editor on the phone than to leave them several voicemail messages. You’re a savvy author and businessperson–use discretion. You don’t want to be overbearing and have the media cringe and say, “Not you again!”

Toot the coverage on social media. Traditional media coverage will always be critical—now social media is vital, too. When you start getting some traditional media mentions (magazines, newspapers) you will want to post on social networks. Post a mention on twitter—make sure your twitter is connected to facebook and LinkedIn. Presto–one tweet will let your social media friends know about your placement.

Here’s a sample Tweet:  

  • Keith Sharpe’s “The Gay Gospels” in Washington Blade: http://bit.ly/pg3BRN. Interested media may contact me for review copies.


PR has changed with the rise of social media. Some of the traditional outlets had had to lay off staffers in droves due to the economic downturn. There are more independent bloggers with their own audiences. The rise of Mommy bloggers nationwide is astounding. So in addition to editors and reporters at traditional outlets, make sure you add bloggers and twitterers to your target list. Yes, twitterers are listed in media databases.

Bottom line: There is a whole new crop of media who can write about your book.

Happy pitching!”

Are you trying to pitch your own or someone else’s book? If so, tell us your story. What’s worked and what hasn’t? Share some of your PR strategies here.

Tags: Public relations

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the ideas. I have been doing much of this since my book was published last year, but I appreciate the ideas on how to use one bit of media exposure to spring board to the next. Thanks especially for the sample tweet. That is a great idea.

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