Here’s a do-it-yourself plan you can use.
What topic can you talk about with some expertise? Evaluate yourself, what you know, what you spend your free time doing. This need not have ANYTHING to do with your novel. If you can, come up with several of these “pitch topics.” The reason? The media are hungry for content. In return for you talking about some subject that viewers/listeners care about, interviewers will give you a brief chance at the end of an interview to share a very pithy 25-word pitch to the audience for your book. That’s what you’re aiming for.
Of course, what you want most of all is to find an audience containing people who want to buy your book when they hear about it. So don’t use a pitch topic that appeals only to men, if your book is aimed at women, for example.
Imagine someone interviewing you on one of your pitch topics. Outline the interview. What do you suggest the interviewer ask? Give yourself some bullet points, things you would share. Do this for all of your topics. Now you are ready with something to give your interviewer.
Get professional photos taken of yourself. Put them on your website. Get a friend to shoot a short video of you in a brief interview about anything. Put it on Youtube. This will allow producers to get an idea of how you handle yourself in front of a camera, or being recorded.
Write a press release that discusses your book.
Create a “Newsroom” page on your website that contains downloadable versions of your press release and high-resolution versions of your author photo, along with the link to your Youtube video. How about other stuff too? The first chapter of the book, the metadata, stuff like that.
Create a template letter to go to various media people, containing the newsroom link. Radio talk shows in your area are good candidates, and radio shows that like to talk about your pitch topics. Don’t forget local newspaper reporters too. Do some Internet research to find them.
Using the template letter, write letters to individuals, commenting about what you liked in their latest interview to let them know that you aren’t sending spam. Summarize your pitch topic. If you have several pitch topics, give them a sentence or two on each, and tell them you have more details about what might be in an interview on request. Tell them you’re an author with a book coming out, but put that at the very end. It’s not the book they are interested in. But give them a link so they can check it out. If you have any history at all of being interviewed, give that. Give them links to the Youtube video. Include your photo in the letter, and any photos of you that are related to your pitch topic. You in the garden? You homeschooling? You fixing the kitchen sink?
Should you send press releases? A letter to an individual is much more effective than a broadcast press release. News outlets often ignore press releases–unless they have a quiet news day and are looking for something! (That’s the word from me, a former newspaper reporter.) So there is a use for them. But don’t pin your hopes on them.
A phone call might work better than a letter. Something to think about.
When you get an interview scheduled, spend a long, long time carefully crafting your compelling 25-word pitch to the audience. We’ll talk more about that next week!
A source: Jared Kuritz, literary publicist.