We all love getting more attention for our book, and book publicity is a big “get” for most authors. However, media often seems like this elusive butterfly for most authors. Always attractive, but often out of reach. Though, not impossible. It just takes a different kind of effort.
But first, let’s dig into the differences between book marketing and book publicity.
Book Marketing vs. Book Publicity, what’s the difference?
If you ask five publicists their views on the differences between marketing and book publicity, you could very well get five different answers. The lines are sometimes blurry. But a good way to look at it is this:
Getting your book out there is a conversation. Book marketing is a conversation you start, whereas book publicity is a conversation others have on your behalf.
A good example of this are Amazon ads – that’s book marketing. But an interview with Good Morning America is publicity – because it’s a conversation GMA is having (yes, with you) but also on your behalf.
The other biggest difference is that book publicity can be limited to the book’s shelf life (which we’ll discuss in a moment), but book marketing is fairly ageless. Meaning you can probably push the marketing of your book longer than you can push the publicity for it.
Other things that fall under book marketing could be:
- A Goodreads giveaway
- Amazon optimization
- eBook promotion
- contests and giveaways with your readers
Book publicity on the other hand, can be:
- local media outreach
- national media outreach
- trade media outreach
- podcast pitching
You get the idea!
Does Every Book Need Book Marketing and Book Publicity?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is it really depends on what genre of the book it is, what stories the book could anchor to, and how much time you want to invest in media pitching (because it does take time to do this!)
What’s your overall goal?
Media always sounds alluring to most authors. If you ask ten authors if they want to be on national television, nearly all of them will give an enthusiastic YES! But before you jump headlong into media, it’s probably a good idea to decide if your book really belongs there?
Meaning: Why spend time on media if the media won’t care?
I know that sounds harsh but doing a great book promotion campaign is more than just throwing stuff out there and seeing what sticks (also called: spray and pray).
One helpful thing is looking at similar books in your market to see where they pop up. Fiction authors, for example, don’t see a lot of play with big, national media — unless you’re a household name. The same is true for memoirs and, frankly, for many first-time authors. Not to be discouraging, but there’s an element of “build” that needs to be considered as well. Meaning: build your platform and reach before you can jump headlong into media pitching. Especially if this is your first book. We’ll talk about the media build in a minute.
If you’ve been out there, let’s say you have a business or you’re a speaker. Maybe you’ve been quoted a time or two in media, and you’re ready for the big time. Great, we’ll look at that, too.
Starting with your overall goal is important to help set the stage for what you’ll do next. For example, if you’re just starting, your media outreach will look a bit different from someone who has done lots of media previously.
Understanding Types of Media
Before you start pitching – and even if you’ve been out there for a while – it’s good to know the tiers of media because when you’re out there pitching it’ll make a difference.
The first tier is national media and this is the one (almost) everyone wants. National media are the big morning shows (Today, GMA, Fox and Friends) and big magazines like Good Housekeeping, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Oprah.
The second tier (and often overlooked) is local media. Though it seems less sexy than that top-tier media, don’t count your local media out. Local media can be a terrific avenue to grow your audience, readership, and platform. The best part? Local media loves local authors.
The third tier and, I can honestly say the most overlooked, is trade media. Trade media is anything specific to a trade. So quilting magazines, fishing magazines, The Writer, etc. I especially love this tier of media because it’s ripe with possibilities and also many of these publications are super eager for content.
Creating a Foundation to Win More Media
If getting more media is on your book marketing bucket list but you aren’t sure where to start, I highly encourage you to start looking at the second and third tiers of media. Media loves media and sometimes the more you do, the more you’ll get. So start by blanketing your local media with pitches.
Consider your local freebie publications – meaning those “throw away” publications you see in grocery stores because surprisingly, many people read those.
Trade media is another consideration. Pitching trade publications (either print or online) can be great to add to your media repertoire, and the pitching options are endless. Trade media is less date-sensitive, so if your book is older but the topic is relevant it’s an easy consideration for them.
Pitches, Hooks, and Other Ways to Get More Book Publicity
I have talked a lot about pitching and creating book hooks, but know this: pitching big media is an art form and they get thousands of pitches a week (sometimes daily).
No one cares that you wrote a book. And this is where I have a disconnect with most press releases. Authors will often issue press releases to announce they have a book, which is not a good use of this service and it’s not a good use of a pitch, either. Pitching your book for a story will rarely get you a story – but pitching the topic, something that’s relevant to what’s in the news, or happening in pop culture, or an event that’s coming up. Each month we publish our monthly observances on our blog, and a great use for those is for your pitching!
Position your book on a current event as I mentioned or something that’s coming up in the news. Finding a unique way to say something that’s already being said a thousand times isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible – and, frankly, this is something I love to do. Over the years I’ve created thousands of pitches for authors and had tons of fun doing so. For example, we worked with an author who wrote about the importance of humor and children and the (holiday) pitch was: Give Your Kids the Gift of Laughter this Holiday Season. And everyone loved it.
So we took an existing concept: the importance of laughter – and tethered it to the season. It was a topic that has been done a bunch but reframed to make it more enticing.
I’ll link to some podcasts we’ve done on pitching so you can dig in more when you’re ready!
Does Book Publicity Sell Books?
No one thing sells books, though you’ll see a bump no doubt if you get a big media hit or a bunch of appearances on local channels. The idea really is that as you’re planning your campaign, layering on some local media, trade media – or if you’re ready – some national media, could really help boost your exposure. And, as I mentioned before, media draws media, so the more you do – the more you’ll get.
The goal really is repeat exposure to your readers. In the end, that’s what good book publicity is about.
Resources and Free Downloads
Minisode: Key Elements of Your Book Promotion Timeline
Minisode: Media Kits and Press Releases
Check Out Full Episodes of Our Podcast!
Are You Ready for Big Media Coverage
Secrets and Spies is a WW2 novel for children I usually sell through School Visits. When covid closed that outlet I teamed up with a friend who sells Osborne under five books at local markets. I tagged on the end and offered author signing. My customers were mainly grandparents who could remembered their own WW2 childhoods. To my surprise during lockdown I made over 1000 sales.