by Stacey J. Miller
There are many times when you don’t need a book publicist. In fact, there are times when a book publicist can get in the way. Why pay a book promotion specialist to do things that you can do yourself? Here are a few of the ways in which you can help yourself get free publicity for your book.
- Contact the book review editor of your community newspaper. Identify yourself as a local author to whomever answers the telephone, and ask for the name of the editor who’d be most interested in speaking with you (the book editor, feature editor, or the like). Be prepared to pitch the individual who answered your phone call. The receptionist might also be the executive editor (and chief bottle washer) of your local newspaper, if your town and its paper are both of a modest size. Of course, if your community newspaper happens to be the New York Times, a local author isn’t a shoo-in. But if you hail from a small town, the community newspaper means free book publicity and, most likely, instant celebrity. Weekly newspapers are your best bet, but try the daily newspapers, too.
- Make a list of communities with which you have a connection. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to high school? Grad school? Where do your parents live? You can reasonably pitch a “local angle” to the appropriate editors at the community newspapers in those places, too.
- Listen to radio programming up and down the dial, and take notes about the names of local shows and hosts. Since so many radio shows are nationally syndicated, your list of local shows and hosts will be a short one. Call hosts and producers. Be prepared to email them instead if you can’t connect with them by phone. (Few of them spend very much of their off-the-air time taking phone calls.) Virtually all radio stations have Web sites, and a quick Google search will turn up the URL which will lead you to email addresses. Keep your pitch succinct, and above all, emphasize the local angle.
- Get in touch with the editor of your alma mater’s publications, and let them know about your book. Be sure to allow as much lead time as possible, since these publications may be published annually or semi-annually. Don’t forget to include your high school on that list, since public and private high schools of all sizes have jumped into the publishing age during the past few years.
You never know where free book promotion opportunities are going to come from. But if you think locally, and you don’t mind being recognized for awhile when you’re at the grocery store, then tell your book publicist to wait awhile. You have some calls to make, interviews to set up — and free book publicity to garner for yourself.
Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications, an independent book publicity firm. Visit her online at http://www.bookpr.com/