April 30, 2008
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING THAT WORKS - Part X: Pitch Yourself as an "Expert" or Interview Source to News Services/Syndicates | printable version
This article was ready to publish a month ago when we exposed the Amazon/Booksurge Ultimatum. While we're, of course, still publishing updates about Amazon/Booksurge, I'm VERY happy that we're able to get back to book selling this week!
During Week I, we talked about sad assumptions and irrational expectations new authors usually have about book sales. We then discussed the dire need for an author to have his OWN website (not a URL controlled by someone else!) and a periodical (ezine/blog) to market their book.
During Week II, we discussed how important it is to offer a free excerpt of your book. We also shared URLs to "free article" websites where you can post your excerpt as an "article."
During Week III, we talked about posting your book excerpt on FreeBookExcerpts.com, a free service for everyone, including book lovers. Authors can post excerpts and readers can discuss them.
During Week IV, we cozied up to websites that have a good Google ranking.
During Week V, we asked websites, ezines, blogs and magazines to publish an excerpt from our book.
During Week VI, we subtly marketed our book to online discussion groups.
During Week VII, we subtly promoted our book on other people's blogs.
During Week VIII, we subtly promoted our book on major news sites.
During Week IX, we listed our ebook for sale at some ebookstores and also took advantage of a few of free ebook directories.
This week, we're going to pitch ourselves as "Experts" or "Interview Sources" to journalists who write for news services/news syndicates, like the Associated Press.
Most good non-fiction authors can and are considered experts on their book's topic. "Experts" and other authors can be a great interview source for a journalist. For example, I have been invited to participate in interviews for stories about Vaginal Birth After Cesareans (VBACs) because I published DON'T CUT ME AGAIN! True Stories About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). I've been interviewed by journalists who were writing stories about divorce for different publications because they read about my divorce book. I've also been interviewed by numerous journalists over the years for stories relating to the publishing industry as a direct result of my books for freelance writers and book authors as well as the popularity of our websites.
Journalists are always looking for an expert or an intriguing subject to interview for their current assignment. Why shouldn't you be that expert and why shouldn't you get publicity for your book in exchange for your interview time? Put your name out there and make yourself available for expert interviews by everyone from journalists for major media to freelancers writing for obscure websites. The more you get your name out there, the more you'll be recognized as "the expert" in your field.
You might also notice, after doing a few interviews, that reporters may start to contact you for their own stories after reading about you in someone else's. This happened to Richard just the other day. A journalist writing for a major financial magazine contacted him after reading another article about our wireless travels. Richard did the interview and we even had to have new PR photos taken. The stories are a great boost for our website, WirelessTrips.com (http://www.wirelesstrips.com), which highlights how we take our business and young children on the road in our RV. (You can bet we're turning our travel essays from WirelessTrips.com into books, too!)
Publicity definitely has a trickle effect. Take advantage of it!
Fiction Authors AND Non-Fiction Authors
You don't have to be a non-fiction author to be considered an expert on one or more things. Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, your areas of expertise don't necessarily have to relate to your book to get publicity for your book.
On the flip-side, you might be considered an expert on one or more topics specifically because of your novel. Perhaps you did extensive research into a specific geographic area (for your romance novel), or researched historical figures who lived in the Fifteenth Century (for your historical novel), or spent months studying the tactics of scam artists (for your thriller), or examined a specific area of forensics (for your detective novel). I could go on and on, but by now you can see where I'm going. Everybody is an expert about something.
Your expert status doesn't necessarily need to relate to your novel to have your book mentioned in the press. A romance novelist and mother of five could be considered an expert source for articles targeting Work at Home moms, or an expert on self-publishing (if she has successfully self-published), or an expert on belly dancing (if that is her hobby). You don't need to be interviewed on a topic specifically dealing with your book to get your book mentioned. Any article that features you should also mention your website and/or your book (that's the least the reporter can do to thank you for your time, right?) and you should always ask them to include the name of your book in their article. Don't be shy! Readers may be so inspired by your "lunchbox assembly line" invention or your "potty-train your toddler in two days" secret that they will want to visit your website, learn more about you, and be so inspired by your ability to write a novel while being a full-time mom that they'll want to buy your book.
Readers want to learn more about their favorite authors and about new authors whose books they're considering buying. Introduce yourself to new readers through the press (by participating in interviews), and then invite them to your website. Be sure to include personal information on your website to satisfy a bit of their curiosity about you, and also be sure to heavily promote your book on your website, of course.
There used to be large directories and databases of experts online but the good ones all now cost a lot money to join. However, this shouldn't stop you from contacting journalists that cover your topic's/genre's "beat" on a regular basis and offering yourself as a source for their future articles.
What you need to do is find those reporters.
You can search the newspapers listed in Part VIII of this series, or you can go a different route - like to a news service. News services, or news syndicates, distribute stories to multiple publications (they syndicate their content). If you get a mention in a news service article, you may find yourself in newspapers nationwide!
For my VBAC "expert status", I went to associatedpress.com and searched for the word VBAC in their archives. Whoo hoo! Two articles popped up and they're both written by the same reporter! That probably means he's the go-to guy for these types of articles. I would then try to find his contact information by googling this from his article: Mike Stobbe Associated Press Writer
More articles pop up and I learned I was right. He's an Associated Press MEDICAL WRITER. It took me about 10 seconds to find his blog. Bingo!
I would then send him an email that went something like this:
I read your two articles, Caesarean Births Rapidly Rising and C-sections in the U.S. Are at an All-Time High. If/when you write articles on VBACs in the future, I'd be very happy to help if you need my assistance. I was so shocked by my doctor's dishonesty about VBACs during my fifth pregnancy that I fired him and found another doctor in the next town that was very happy to work with me. I not only had a successful VBAC, but I also interviewed numerous women like myself and published the book, DON'T CUT ME AGAIN! Real Stories of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.
If you need an interview source, or even a unique story idea, I'd love to help.
Have a beautiful day!
Of course, if you have a truly unique story idea for that reporter, by all means, pitch your idea! Why not be the main topic of one of his or her future feature articles? Journalists are always looking for new and unique story ideas!
Let's do one more and then you'll have a pretty good idea about how to offer yourself up as an "expert" or interview source.
I surfed over to Reuters and searched for VBAC. Only one result popped up so then I searched for "vaginal birth after cesarean" (ya gotta get creative sometimes to find what you're looking for). Bingo! Tons of stories popped up. Some of these stories are from other publications (that syndicate their stories to others). But, I did find Megan Rauscher and Amy Norton, who both write for Reuters Health. I poked around a bit and found a form on their site where you can submit comments to their editors. I would send a note like the one above to Reuters Health editors using their online form, while also trying to find the direct contact information for their health reporters.
While surfing both associatedpress.com and reuters.com, I was taken to numerous articles and blogs that allowed the immediate posting of comments. If I wasn't so busy writing this article series, I'd be on those sites right now, subtly promoting one or more of my books!
There is also a large list of news syndicates appearing here:
There are news services targeting specific industries as well as news services that serve other countries so be sure to google "news service" along with some of your book's main keywords/phrases to find more.
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of the ebook and print on demand publisher, Booklocker.com and the publisher of WritersWeekly.com.