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Timing is Everything: The Importance of Book Relevance and Media Lead Times

Book relevance is something every author should understand when engaging in book promotion. What is book relevance? It’s understanding how your book may relate to current events so you can secure more media coverage. For both fiction and non-fiction, tying your book into “real life” almost always opens media doors that might otherwise be closed. Some examples:

  • Is any part of the book set during or around a holiday as a major theme? For winter holiday-themed books, keep in mind that Christmas shopping season picks up in October.
  • Is your novel based on your own real-life experience? Example: Retired law enforcement officer writes thriller novel that includes themes such as terrorism and airline safety.
  • Are there any themes in your book that can be tied into commemorative months or days? For example, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, June is LGBT Pride Month and February is Black History Month. Commemorative occasions can be lighthearted as well as serious—your pastry cookbook might do very well for National Doughnut Day (June 3rd).
  • Is your book ideal for high school or university graduates? Are there promotional angles that can be extracted from your book for Valentine’s Day? Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?

Think about the start date for your book publicity efforts, and take into account any holidays, causes, awareness months or memorial days that provide a strong news tie-in for your book. This enables you or your publicist to promote the book in conjunction with the event, providing a stronger platform upon which to launch book marketing efforts.

Here is a website that can help you research awareness months:

http://www.epromos.com/education/calendars/

Second, you must consider the media lead times for publications:

  • A memoir about a battle with breast cancer could be perfect for coverage in women’s interest magazines during National Breast Cancer Awareness in October. Magazine editors and writers work rough three to six months ahead of each issue, so to maximize your chance for women’s magazine placements, pitching a story idea should begin in May or June!
  • Newspapers have shorter lead-times, so you can pitch editors several weeks ahead of any tie-in to an awareness month or day. For major holidays and events, start pitching six to eight weeks ahead.
  • Television and radio typically work roughly three to four weeks ahead of schedule.
  • Internet/online media can be immediate! Sometimes, you can pitch an article to online media outlets and see it posted the very same day.

Bottom line: Coordinating your book marketing plan with your calendar can make a huge difference in generating interest and sales. It doesn’t take much time to simply do your research, plan ahead and set yourself up for future success.

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