Hey, authors! What about traditional media?

Remember newspapers? They're still quite useful.

Authors have to do self-promotion. I get that. You’re reading some of it RIGHT NOW. (How very meta.) Yet most advice to authors on this topic has to do with electronic social media. There’s very little advice about going to traditional media outlets with your story.

Now, I may be biased, having spent many years of my youth working for Old Media. And let’s be clear: Even with all my contacts and experience, it’s unlikely I’ll be featured in The New York Times or on NPR. (At least, not right away.) But millions of people still get their news and info from smaller traditional outlets, and I know I’m planning to take advantage of that.

How might you do this? First, think local. We can all decry the irrelevance of local newspapers, but if a local author gets a book deal and holds a signing, that warrants at least a brief notice. It might even warrant a book review or a feature story. Grab a copy of your paper, check out the arts or feature sections and drop some e-mail on the editors. (Professionally, of course. A well-written press release will do wonders. And don’t forget your contact info!)

Same goes with local radio, especially local public radio and/or talk radio. Send over your news release and offer to come on and chat. Worst they could do is say no. TV is another possibility, but unless you start hitting the best-seller lists, it’s far more difficult. If you want to tilt at that windmill, think morning or weekend shows. For TV and radio, ask for the arts or assignment editors.

And don’t just think about where you live and work. Think about where you graduated from high school and/or college. Graduate-done-good stories are always winners. (And hit up your alumni publications, while you’re at it.) If you’ve lived in other areas around the country, look up the outlets there, too. If you’re going to do signings in other cities, or travel to a convention, spread the word in local media!

Finally, when you do make these contacts with all these traditional media types, don’t just offer up the fact that you wrote a book. As someone who’s now “in the publishing industry,” you have the opportunity to be something of an expert source on publishing. Don’t laugh. Your experiences and insights are valid. You can talk about the closure of the local Borders, the importance of local bookstores, or what e-publishing has done for your book. (Just be sure to say nice things about your publisher!)

While you’re at it, you can comment on using social media for promotional purposes, or on anything your book might be about – the future of space travel and the history of naval warfare, in my case. Position yourself as a resource for the reporters, not just someone who wants to get in the paper.

This really just scratches the surface of what you can do with traditional media. Be creative and be unafraid! A handful of mentions in local papers and radio might add up to a lot of new readers.

6 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing

6 responses to “Hey, authors! What about traditional media?

  1. Wonderful post! I’m an old-school media person, too, and I’ve given similar advice to folks looking to get the word out about their books. A community newspaper might give an author a big, color photo and a feature story, whether it’s your community, your hometown, or where your went to college. And the people reading newspapers, or listening to the radio, tend to be readers, so potentially you’ll reach members of your target market with that kind of approach.

  2. Bravo! I absolutely agree! Another great idea? Contact your alma mater and see if they will at least post the in your alumni magazine. Northwestern does this for me and the submissions are even online to make it easy.

  3. ps. yes, I know that you mentioned the alumni angle above. Just mostly wanted to reiterate and let everyone know how easy it is!
    ok, that’s all from me now that I’m incoherent. 😉

    • I totally agree, Sara! Alumni magazines are wonderful ways to get news out–and it wouldn’t hurt to contact the student newspaper, depending on the book’s subject matter or audience.

  4. Ooh, good tips, Michael! And it’s true, even if your target demo might not regularly listen to the local station, etc, they might catch a snatch of your interview while they’re out shopping or waiting in a doctor’s office or something. And sometimes, that little snatch or a moment is all it takes to send them searching for your book.

    Went back and caught up on a few of your recent blog posts too. Loved the bromance one–seriously, it’s just about the first thing on my “must have in any good book” list too. And I like the idea that there are bromances that include women too–not just with one another, but also with dudes. It’s so great that we’re getting to the point where a male-female duo doesn’t automatically spell romance. Wish we could see a little more of that in YA too, but it’s good to know it thrives in current SFF.

    Good luck with the submissions–here’s hoping to read your book soon! Tall ships in space… awesome. XD (P.S. You can find all manner of royalty-free photos at istockphoto.com, but you do have to pay for them.)

  5. Great post. I choose a lot of the books I buy based on lists from traditional media: book reviews in magazines and newspapers. I have to believe other people do, too, so I think it makes good sense to approach those outlets in conjunction with online media.

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