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Ten Keys to Feature Coverage

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Often the best coverage for a book comes not from reviews but from feature articles, author-as-expert comments, excerpts, and even sidebar mentions. Here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Develop 2 to 10 different angles or “hooks” that you think are newsworthy.

2. For each angle, select 10 periodicals that seem like a good match. Research each one before you waste your time and money sending a book. You can find out about a publication’s content by checking its Web site, studying several copies, and requesting its advertising materials. The advertising packet will also give you information about the publication’s target audience and its circulation figures.

3. Approach the periodical you selected for your favorite angle. You can do this by:

 

    Calling the editor and pitching the idea. Make sure you can get it across in 25 words or less and 30 seconds or less.
    E-mailing the editor and pitching the idea. Here too you should make sure you get it across in 25 words or less. Pay special attention to the subject heading of the e-mail.
    Mailing a release that highlights your favorite idea.
    Mailing a ready-to-use article that highlights the idea, noting that it is free for the editor to use.
    Mailing a letter to the editor you have chosen, saying that you have a free, ready-to-use article or articles to send if the editor is interested.
    Mailing your book to the editor you have chosen, with a note about why you think it would be perfect for the publication’s readers. Mark the pages that are especially applicable.

4. Depending on your success, try another method of contact and/or fine-tune your approach and try it again. When you are successful, select additional publications to contact in the same way.

5. Pick one of the other angles and start the process all over again.

6. Read and watch everything you can. Be ready to send letters to the editors, offer comments at Web sites, submit follow-up article ideas, etc.

7. Make sure all the materials you develop can be sent electronically or are available to media people as downloads at your Web site. Create a CD with both text and art if appropriate.

8. Research key dates that you can tie into–or establish your own. Chase’s Calendar of Events is the ultimate reference calendar, with more than 12,000 listings of special days, weeks, and months, as well as holidays, historical anniversaries, and fairs and festivals. Other books like this include John Kremer’s Celebrate Today! Many authors and publishers have created their own days or weeks and used them to great PR advantage over the years.

9. Be accessible. You never know when someone you have contacted will want to contact you for a story or interviews. If you are hard to reach by phone or e-mail, they will likely move on to another contact on their list.

10. Use the fact that success breeds success. Don’t be afraid to send articles, reviews, and good coverage to media people. Instead of making them turn away on the grounds that the topic has been covered, this usually reinforces the appeal of your message and makes the media comfortable coming to you for more information on your topic. Make sure that all items you send are reproduced in a professional manner.

These same tactics can be used equally well when approaching radio and television producers as well as e-zines and other online sites.

Kate Bandos has worked with hundreds of publishers and authors and dealt with a wide array of media people during more than 30 years as a book publicist. Her company, KSB Promotions, handles national, regional, and local campaigns for nonfiction titles only, specializing in cookbooks, travel guides, parenting, gardening, home how-to, consumer health, selected children’s books, and other general lifestyle books. To learn more, visit www.ksbpromotions.com.

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