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.