Gift guides can be a great way to give your book some extra bounce this holiday season. Whenever we’ve pitched gift guides in the past, books that have been accepted get a nice nudge in sales and exposure making even one placement worth the effort for your book marketing plan.
So how do you go about pitching your book to gift guides? Well, let’s first break down the different types of gift guides.
Most national magazines, especially women’s magazines, have gift guides that are generally published by November 1 to get out there in time for the big shopping season and though it’s likely too late to be included in these for this season, some publish gift guides outside of the big holiday rush. So keep Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. in mind for your book promotion.
The best way to find editorial calendars for magazines is to look on the magazine website, or just Google the name of the magazine and “editorial calendar” when I looked up the editorial calendar for Self Magazine, I found these two links:
You’ll see that both of these show the close dates for the issue, which for the November issue is September 1, so fairly early. Sometimes the magazines will say “gift issue” and other times they won’t, so it’s good to be familiar with magazines that do this. Some of the publications that I’ve worked with are:
- People Magazine
- Real Simple
- Family Circle
- First for Women
There are a bunch of others, again we’re talking national magazines – but certainly good targets for your book if it fits their audience demographic.
If you’re discouraged about the long lead times with national magazines, take heart because regional magazines (which often have gift guides, too) have a much shorter window. Most cities have at least one regional magazine, most have several. And while regional magazines may seem less glamorous than their big, national counterparts, don’t underestimate how much readership they get. Often when we pitch our authors regionally they get a nice hit of exposure and a decent push in sales.
If you’re not sure which magazines are regional to you, head on over to your local grocery store or drug store because they often have a stack. Some might be free and others paid. We have a mix of them here in San Diego (free and paid) and all of them have gift guides. Much like pitching national magazines you’ll want to go online and look at their editorial calendar. If the magazine doesn’t have one on the website, and maybe just a small staff (this is the case with many regional publications) feel free to reach out to them directly and ask if they do a gift guide and what their guidelines are. If they don’t do one, they may decide just to feature your book or product because you’re regionally connected – which could also be a great way to gain some attention to your book.
Regional TV Programs
The same applies to regional TV talk shows or news broadcasts. Even with a heavy dose of evening news, there may also be a gift guide segment. Most regional morning shows do this and while they often won’t list it online, you can usually just call the front desk person at any local TV station and ask them. If they can’t help, they will help you find someone who can. However if you do call, be prepared with your pitch in case they transfer you right to the show producer!
Whenever we’ve pitched bloggers for their gift guides, and gotten a book included it’s been a great find for our authors. Not just because of the immediate promotional boost a gift guide gives an author, but since it’s a blog post the blog comes up in searches for as long as the blogger is around (which is generally a pretty long time). Much like magazines, bloggers will focus on what their blog is about. So for a cooking blog, they may put up a best-of cookbook guide (click to see this blogger’s guide).
If you have a list of blogs you love, do a quick search on each site to see if they have done gift guides in the past and then see if there’s a post calling for gift guide suggestions. If you don’t see one, email them and ask them if they’re planning a gift guide post this year. Most of the November and December gift guides are collected in October – again early enough for the blogger to be able to ferret through the submissions and see what’s right for their blog.
Pitching Gift Guides
So now that you’re sold on the idea of holiday gift guides, let’s talk about how to pitch them.
Get to know the magazine or blog
It’s important to know what and who you are pitching so spend some time getting to know them. Do they even do holiday gift guides or are they focused on gifts for the New Year New You model? Each blog is different as is each magazine. Also, as I mentioned earlier, many blogs and magazines don’t just do gift guides one time per year, many do them throughout the year so if you’ve missed the crazy Christmas shopping window, take heart because other, major holidays are right around the corner.
Make sure it’s the right fit
As I mentioned by each of these suggestions, make sure you are pitching a magazine or blog that is related to your book. If you don’t not only will you not get included, but it’s a waste of the editor’s time and yours.
Pitch the right person
As with any pitch, take the time to find the right person to pitch. Especially with gift guides, because editors or bloggers have to often sift through hundreds of submissions, they may have a separate email set up to accept submissions. Follow the rules because if you don’t, your entire submission may get deleted.
Craft your email
While I always say that you need really catchy email subject lines if you’re pitching media or bloggers, the same isn’t true for gift guide pitches. In fact I recommend a subject line that reads: “Holiday gift guide:” and then a catchy title for your book or product. Sometimes this may be your book or product name, while others it may be a hook.
Keep the email short, two paragraphs at the very most but less if you can. Since gift guides are highly visual, be sure to include a link to your product and offer to send a sample to the editor or blogger.
There’s no shame in bribing, and by “bribing” I mean offering to do a giveaway to the bloggers readers or if you get picked up by a regional magazine, or local TV shows, offer to give away copies to their viewers or readers.
Do the follow up
There’s no shame in checking back. Just a simple note asking if they got the pitch and if they need anything further should suffice.
Gift guides can add a great boost to your book and while they take a bit of effort, they are completely worth it. One nod from a publication, TV show or blogger could net you tons of exposure and lots of sales.
Need some inspiration? Check out some of these 2015 gift guides from bloggers.