In this episode I interview Janet Murray, journalist for the Guardian newspaper and PR Coach. She has pitched stories and received pitches to the media over the last fifteen years and now helps other people to do the same with her Soulful PR training company.
If an author wants to start publicising their book where should they start?
Janet recommends thinking about the sort of publications that would be read by readers of your books, so for example if you have a book about Carpentry then Woodwork Weekly might be a better magazine to approach than Vogue. If you don’t know what sort of things your audience reads, then just ask them.
What is the biggest mistake you see in people trying to publicise something?
The biggest mistake is people not knowing anything about the publication they are pitching to. Janet says that when she was receiving pitches, about 80-90% of the people pitching had never read the publication. You need to research the publications you pitch to thoroughly. She says that while this sounds like a lot of work, with time and experience it becomes a lot easier to do this as a routine.
Should you start off with small regional publications first before larger publications?
Janet says there is no reason that you can’t start off with national publications. There is less competition with local media and the emphasis is different, but there is no reason an author can’t successfully pitch to a national. She does warn people to be realistic in the impact of getting a story in a national paper or media outlet – the result almost certainly won’t mean instant retirement or mega-sales.
If you decide to hire a PR company or a publicist, what should you look for to ensure you get a professional?
Janet warns (as has been my experience) that there are a lot of not very good PR businesses out there that will just send out hopeless generic press releases to hundreds of publications with no thought. Janet says she would ask for evidence of the publications they had got authors into and ask then exactly what they are going to do in terms of their approach. She recommends trying it yourself before using a PR company so you will know when they are actually doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Janet’s best tip for authors
DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOK. You might be able to get a review of your book, if you are lucky, but in general the people who write books are way more interesting and news worthy than their books. Look around the edges – the stories possibly related to the book in your life that are interesting and push them. Janet mentions a free PDF download she has to learn how to Mine your life for Media Content
Where do you think the most exciting or under-utilised opportunities in publicity at the moment?
Janet says use what works for you. She recommends using a 360 degree approach, including new media and the old media. She recommends a blog and using social media to try and increase your profile, along with submitting articles to publications to increase your profile.
Where can you find out about Janet and her website and podcast?
Jan has several FREE courses available on her website if you are interested in Book Publicity (or any kind of PR really!)Learn how to publicise your books with @jan_murray on the Begin Self-Publishing Podcast.Click To Tweet