Katie Read of publishing PR agency READ Media shares some advice for increasing the exposure of books and authors
1 Find fresh angles on annual trends
At certain times of the year it is easy to predict what the main areas of interest will be in the media. In the New Year, for example, journalists are often looking for stories about fresh starts, so it can be a good time to publicise diet, fitness, relationship or jobs books. For our campaign on The Boss Whisperer by Richard Boston, our main feature pitch is ‘Change your attitude, not your job in 2018!’ That offers journalists a new angle on a common area of interest around this time of year.
2 Make your subject heading snappy
If you are sending a press release or pitch via email, what might make a journalist with an already overwhelming inbox choose to click for more information? A subject heading that pitches a story they will want to write about. Get the key information and hook for your book into one line. When we worked on the film tie-in edition of Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu, we wanted to raise awareness of the book before the film’s release. There was no doubt that we should refer to the film and Judi Dench in the subject line, but we also offered interviews with the author about how she had ‘unearthed this true story erased from history’. Journalists were fascinated to discover the intriguing back story.
3 Build your contacts
Ask to meet key journalists for coffee. You’ll get to find out their areas of interest, their lead times and when they need proof copies. You can also communicate your passion for your work, and the personal touch helps to build long-lasting relationships. For some of our clients based outside central London, we organise events where editors present books to a room of journalists in much the same style as a sales conference. You can also learn more about media set-ups and other publicity opportunities by accompanying your author to interviews.
4 Publicise the author
Book promotion can often be more about the author than the title, especially in non-fiction. Authors are experts in their fields, and could be able to write or talk about many interesting, controversial or fun topics. For that reason, we always send ‘on spec’ review copies to journalists who might be able to use an author for an informed comment or case study. Even if they can’t review a book on publication, they might call on them at a later date. For instance, we get regular media calls for advice on travel safety from expert Lloyd Figgins after we publicised his book in 2016.
5 Use literary festivals
Literary festivals are great opportunities for authors to talk and sell books. We work with festivals in Oxford and Blenheim and seek to schedule authors who have had books out in the last six months. There is less of a time restraint on other speaking; one of our authors, Sir Dermot Turing, whose book Prof was published in September 2015, has just come back from his second speaking tour of the US.
Katie Read is the director of READ Media, a PR agency specialising in non-fiction and illustrated titles. For more about its services, click here.