Pitch the Author and the Content, NOT the Book

One of the biggest mistakes authors and publicists make when trying to get media coverage for books is trying to pitch the book release itself.

When I worked at Business in Vancouver, behind my desk were three filing cabinets, on the top of which, from one end to the other, was a row of about 50 business books – all looking for media coverage.

They came to the newspaper on a regular basis, press release folded in half, neatly tucked into the centre. As book reviews were not a regular part of the newspaper’s content, most of the books would sit unopened. But, once in a while, if we were looking for an expert in a particular field, I would scan the book spines to see if there was an author with related knowledge.

And that’s the key: Most publicists and authors pitch the fact that there is a new book out – rather than pitching the author as an expert who happens to have written a book, or, even better, focusing on an attention-grabbing element in the content of the book, and using the book as a hook for a story, but not the story itself.

So what’s the difference? It is often seen in the subject line. Consider the book on the left of the image above – Profit in Plain Sight by Anne Graham. Two different subject lines might be:

  1. New book focuses on key strategies for profit
  2. Put left and right brain together for business success

The first might elicit thoughts of, “Oh yeah, heard it before. Nothing new here. Move along folks.” The second makes me think, “Hmm… that sounds intriguing.” Thus the biggest hurdle – drawing attention to your press release amid hundreds of pitches in an editor’s inbox – has been overcome.

Once the email is opened, you can then explain that this is one strategy amid dozens in a new book. So you offer something interesting to tantalize the editor; and you offer a timely hook.

Another strategy when you’ve come out with a new book is to pitch yourself as an expert. The three ways to do this are:

  1. Pitch yourself as an expert to specific media that are looking for your expertise.
  2. Pitch yourself as an expert when there are trending stories on which you can offer an opinion.
  3. Pitch yourself as an expert where your expertise is aligned with a particular section or special issue in the publication.

Using Graham’s book as an example again, much of the content of the book would be perfect for a media outlet that covers issues in human resources. In such a case, the subject line might read: “HR expert discusses left- versus right-brain thinking.” When I edited the HR Report for BIV, this subject line would definitely have caught my eye.

In this way you can farm and pitch one book’s content for multiple areas of specialties, but you will have to tailor each press release so the subject line calls attention to that expertise. It might take more time, but the results are usually well worth it.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule of not simply pitching the fact that a new book is out. This occurs when an author is extremely well known and one can assume that a publication’s readers are chomping at the bit for their latest work. (Think Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Covey or Robert Kiyosaki.)

When you get to that level, let me know. I’ll be happy to do the publicity for you!

For a more easy tips on how to access media coverage, Small Business BC is offering courses and webinars. Pick a date that works for you: http://phase2coaching.com/workshops/

Sample book pitches can be found on my website for free:


Baila Lazarus

Media Expert

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