Trends in Book Publicity and Media Interest in Books/Authors

Since 1997, Smith Publicity’s team of book publicists has promoted thousands of books—from New York Times bestsellers to first time self-published authors. As the new year begins, I asked our book publicists for observations about book publicity trends.

Authors Are More Savvy

“From a sales point of view and publicity perspective, one of the biggest differences I’ve seen is the increase of knowledge among authors,” says Corinne Liccketto, Smith Publicity’s Director of Sales and Book Publicist. “More and more, authors are coming to us with an understanding of the many initiatives they need to take to successfully promote their book.”

“I’d say in general the authors that I’ve worked with get a better grasp of the ‘big picture’ beyond book sales,” adds Melissa Sileo, Senior Publicist at Smith Publicity. “They seem to know and understand the value of building a brand.”

More Books Actively Promoted

Because authors are more sophisticated when it comes to marketing themselves and their books, along with the fact that the sheer volume of books published (Bowker estimated more than 1.7 million books were published in 2012) has increased, it is more challenging for authors to stand out in an often-crowded field of choices.

“It’s so much more about strategic pitching and it’s absolutely crucial to set time aside for personal outreach to established media contacts,” notes Liccketto. “Media attitude has shifted a bit as well as they understand the power they have in selecting their choice of experts from the many pitches they receive. The sense of urgency has been upped and the level of media follow-up to encourage coverage is even more crucial than before.”

Self-Publishing “Stigma” Continues to Recede—A Good Pitch Counts

In 2006, when pitching authors to radio producers, publicists would sometimes hear: “Great topic, but if the book is self-published, don’t bother.”

Today, our book publicists report that how a book is published is of much less importance to the media than ever before. What producers and editors are looking for are timely topics of interest to their audiences supported by credentialed experts, rather than the name of the publisher.

“I can’t think of the last time I was turned down by a media contact because it was a self-published book,” states Sileo.

Indeed, in the past year, Smith Publicity’s self-published clients have enjoyed media coverage on venues including The TODAY Show, People Magazine, 60 Minutes, Men’s Health, New York Times, USA Today, The New Yorker, Forbes, INC, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Late Show with David Letterman, NPR and Huffington Post.

The bottom line is media contacts are looking for quality books written by qualified authors who have something interesting, informative, entertaining, or thought-provoking to share with their audiences.

What Are Author’s Most Requested Media Outlets?

Historically, the media outlet of choice for authors was Oprah. Although her daily show has been off the air for years, her name and show are long lasting as “Oprah” is still somehow on the top of some authors’ wish lists.

Anne Johnson, Book Publicist at Smith Publicity, reports, “The Today Show and Good Morning America are high on the coveted media list, as well as The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.”

“Sometimes there is a disconnect with authors not understanding that shows like Ellen and the late night shows don’t typically interview guests who are not already celebrities or individuals who have in some way gone viral,” says Liccketto. “However, to be sure, there are exceptions to this.”

“I’ve noticed business authors are placing more value on print and online placements rather than on radio and television interviews,” adds Sileo. “They like that print and online media tend to reach a niche, target audience compared to the often general audience a television or radio interview. Business authors want top newspapers, and also value business magazines including INC, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, etc. I find that authors are really excited for Huffington Post requests, too.”

E-books and Book Publicity

When promoting a book and author, the first level of media interest is typically when an editor, producer or blogger requests a copy of the book to review. With books now often available in e-book and/or print version, I asked our book publicists to weigh in on which format the media most often request.

“Most media contacts still prefer a hard copy of the book,” says Johnson. “However, if there’s a time crunch, e-books can make the difference in getting a placement or interview because of the ability to almost immediately deliver a book. In the event that they do request an e-book, most media contacts ask for a PDF or .mobi file.”

“When offered a choice, many media contacts request a physical copy of the book. But digital formats are great when someone wants to see a copy ASAP,” adds Sileo. “Bloggers–who can be very influential when it comes to sparking book sales–seem to be the most amenable to reviewing e-books.”

Notes Liccketto, “The advantages of e-books in terms of deliverability speed and the increasing number of online media outlets and bloggers who love to receive e-books, offset the limitations e-book only books face. Some media doors are harder to open with an e-book, while in other cases an e-book can be the only way to open a door.”

by: Sandra Poirier-Diaz, President of Smith Publicity