Effective book promotion is both an art and a science. You will first need a high-quality product to promote, of course. But then you need a plan to get the word out. One strategy you can employ to promote your book is to engage your local media. 

Why Engage Your Local Media

A lot of first-time authors think of book marketing as something that needs to happen on a national level and forget the power and often-untapped potential of their local media. These authors will often submit a copy of their book to the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle in hopes of getting some press coverage that will launch their book into the spotlight and help sell thousands of copies.

But realistically, that strategy seldom works for most authors, especially indie ones. National media coverage is very competitive. Major media outlets are sent hundreds of books every week from authors hoping they land on someone’s desk who has the time to read it and craft a story about it. 

Unfortunately, this is mostly a lost cause–except where your local media is concerned. Your local media – the newspapers, magazines, online publications, tv and radio stations dedicated to covering your specific region – are always looking for stories with a local angle. They want to hear from people about what is going on in their area and in fact, they encourage it.

Your chances of landing on a newspaper page go up exponentially when you engage your local media for press coverage over the big, national media. 

That being said, journalists (even local ones) are still busy people and so getting their attention can be tricky. 

So how do you do it?

Start by Crafting Your Press Release.

If you wrote a book you can write a press release. A press release is written in the third person for a general audience or sometimes even specifically for the media. While some news outlets may run your press releases as is (if it is well written enough) most are looking to take the information presented and craft their own story. 

With that in mind, you need to give them enough information to help them recognize the story potential and have all the basic information on hand. In other words: don’t send them a copy of your book and expect them to read it.

Instead, send them a press release about why your book release is newsworthy. Again, this is not a run down of the plot of your book but rather a specific angle about why your book (and you as the author) is a newsworthy story. 

Remember that what makes local media successful is the local angle. They love local wins, and celebrating local accomplishments. So you are doing yourself and your book a disservice not to send out a press release to local media. 

How to Write a Press Release

Every good press release should include: 

  1. Who (you the author)
  2. What (your book)
  3. When
  4. Why (this is the story)

You will want to spend most of your time on the “why.” Try to put yourself in the shoes of the news outlet and ask yourself this question: “Why should I care?” This will help you write a press release that is less about your book releasing and gets more to the heart of why you wrote the book in the first place. 

Most importantly, you want to convey to the journalist why their audience will want to read a story about you and your book. 

Other elements you might include in your press release could be:

  • A quote, either from you as the author written in the third person or a testimonial. Just make sure any quotes you use are adding to the story and can’t be paraphrased to take up less space. Superfluous quotes will almost always get cut. 
  • Statistics about trendy topics if they relate to your book 

And be sure to include your contact information including your author website and where people can purchase your book. 

Above all else, keep it simple. Much like when you were writing your book description to entice new readers to buy your book, your press release should entice a journalist so show them why their audience would want to read this story. 

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Press Releases:

  • Don’t just generalize what the book is about from beginning to end. That isn’t newsworthy. Instead, think of the press release as marketing copy- which it is, much like your book description. 
  • Don’t include something like “contact me for more details.” Make sure you include all the elements in your press release to craft a story with. 
  • Don’t just send them the book and ask them to read it. They won’t have time for that. 

Submit Your press release

To submit your press release you may have to do a little research to find the correct journalist covering your particular beat. In other words if your book is about how to be an entrepreneur, see if there is a journalist that covers business stories. If your book is about how to teach yoga, see if there is a health and wellness journalist on staff. If your book is about art, reach out to the arts and entertainment department. 

You want to find the journalist best suited for the job. Sometimes it can be as simple as looking up the media outlet online and finding their beat reporters. Other times you may have to call the front desk and ask for contact information. Journalists are supposed to be accessible to the public, so they almost always have readily-available contact information and are used to people calling to get in touch with them. 

After you’ve gathered your contacts for different media outlets, introduce yourself in an email and attach your press release. Alternatively, some media outlets might have a submission form directly on their website for press releases and news tips but it’s worth it to also send a personal email. 

Manage Your Expectations

When sending press releases to local media there is no guarantee that it will lead to anything. They aren’t required to publish it or run a story about you. Journalists are gatekeepers and ultimately they get to decide what is newsworthy or not, based on years of experience. 

If your press release doesn’t run, that’s okay! Continue to find ways to market your book as newsworthy to the local media.

As a former journalist I can tell you that those who get the most coverage are those who aren’t afraid to toot their own horn. While the media might not print everything you send them, chances are the more regularly you send them info the more likely they are to help promote your book through stories.  

As you create newsworthy content about your book you can keep submitting press releases to journalists.  

Author Case Study

For one of our clients, Lorraine Brodek, who’s self-published memoir A Nobody in a Sombody World covers her life growing up in Hollywood, a feature in the local newspaper when her book launched was a turning point for her. 

The article led to book readings, speaking engagements at her local schools, and eventually landing a spot in Phoenix Magazine as one of their 48 People of the Year. All the while she saw a spike in book sales thanks to the local media coverage. 

“Getting that first newspaper article really helped,” said Lorraine. “That was my big first step.” 

Author and Launch my Book client Patricia Marino had a similar experience with her memoir We Have All Been The Others, which chronicles her father’s experience as a first-generation Italian American living in Chicago. 

After her book launched, Patricia began sending out press releases to media in California where she currently resides and landed a feature in the Tri City Voice and the San Leandro Times.

“I had some experience with the format of a press release and what is acceptable to the press so it wasn’t hard,” Patricia said. “What was more difficult was presenting an angle to the story in which the press might be interested in.” 

To increase her chances of getting press coverage, Patricia researched which reporteres covered issues like immigration, race and politics which are major themes in her book. 

She utilized the same strategy to find podcasts that cover similar issues and came up with a list of over 75 potential podcasts. 

Both Patricia and Lorraine have taken these media features and capitalized on them by linking to each one on their author websites, and referencing them as they continue to seek more coverage from both the media and podcasters. 

You have to keep the product in front of the public in some way or other,” added Patricia. “Since the marketing nowadays is on the author, it is important to keep looking at what your book are and the niches that it might fit.”


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