By Jennifer Tucker
When it comes to getting the word out about your book, many authors immediately think of alerting the masses with a press release. A press release—typically a one- or two-page document offering a summary and highlighting the main themes of your book—is indeed an important element of marketing your book. However, there’s another piece to the promotion puzzle that may be even more important: the book pitch. What is a book pitch and how is it different from a press release? There are the five key elements of an effective pitch.
A pitch is shorter than a press release. It’s typically sent in the body of an email and therefore needs to be very concise to grab and keep the recipient’s attention. In the short amount of time it takes for the media contact to read a pitch, they should very quickly be able to determine if the book and/or author is of interest to them and if it’s relevant to what they cover. Even better, the subject line of your email should get them interested. You have very limited space in a subject line—make every word count.
The content of a pitch should always be tailored and customized for the media target, both in terms of the media type—broadcast, print, online, etc.—and the specific area the media contact covers. Referencing a previous topic the contact covered, for example, shows them that the sender took the time to do research, and as a result, it’s probably relevant to them. If pitching a TV show producer or booker, give segment ideas directly in the pitch. For print and online, review recent pieces the outlet has run and include how your book or message fits into what they’re already discussing. One-size-fits-all pitches are doomed to fail.
With a book pitch, time is of the essence. If there is a timely angle that you can include as part of your pitch—perhaps an awareness day that ties in to the subject of your book, as an example—it will create a sense of urgency and immediate relevance. In addition, breaking news always presents opportunities for author/experts, because a reporter, editor or producer needs experts to round out their coverage and bring depth to the story.
Another element of a successful pitch is newsworthiness. Outside of book reviewers, the fact that you wrote a book isn’t going to create interest. You must make it newsworthy. Depending on the topic of your book, look for trends, popular topics, viral stories. Take a look at the latest headlines; do any of the themes of your book tie in to what’s happening in the news? If so, make a connection between your book (or your expertise) and what’s going on. For the specific topic of your book, make it newsworthy by showing what makes it special and different. You wrote a book on personal finance? What makes it different from all of the other personal finance books out there?
As we all know, 2020 has been a year full of stress, uncertainty, fear and divisiveness. You always want to carefully approach controversial issues and negative news topics. If you’re seen as trying to capitalize on something bad that has happened, you won’t just be ignored, you’ll likely make the media contact angry. It’s all about giving. Sure, you want attention for your book when it’s relevant to even bad news, but focus on giving, not just getting, coverage. Offer helpful, meaningful and thoughtful insights that can bring important perspective and context to news stories. Publicity is great, but proceed with caution—and tact—when it comes to controversial issues.
A pitch is your first impression, and we all know how important first impressions are. Follow these five tips to make a good one!