By Sandra Poirier Smith
Whether working on your own or with a publicist, a byline article is an excellent book marketing tool to help build or continue to build your expertise, credibility, and brand.
What is a Byline Article?
A byline article is about 700-900 words and filled with actionable items, ideas, how-to, case studies, etc. showcasing an author’s advice and expertise. The article is typically published in its entirety by print or online outlets with the author given full credit as the writer, usually with a brief bio and book title.
Byline articles are designed to entice readers to want to learn more. After reading an article, readers can then share the article on social media, buy the book, engage the author on social media, sign up for a newsletter, visit the author’s website, and/or hire the author to speak, consult, etc. Byline articles links are incredibly valuable to add to an author’s website, retweet/post on social media platforms, use for credibility in marketing efforts “as featured in TIME magazine,” and help with search engine optimization of an author’s name and brand.
Audience and Message
There are two important items to consider before writing an article: who is the target audience and what information do you want to share with them? For the best chance of securing placements, the article needs to be tailored to the demographics of the media outlet. For example:
- If you have a health/nutrition book and want to reach parenting interest readers to build your brand with new moms, then gear tips just for them, perhaps “exercising with infants” or “healthy food choices that will entice both adults and”
- If you are a small business tax expert and want to get the attention of restaurant owners, then write an article with information geared just for this audience. Even if the advice is the same basic principles that may be offered to other small business owners, tailor the article to the needs of this specific reader.
How and Where to Submit Byline Articles
If you are working with a book publicist, he or she then presents articles to editors at print and online media outlets for consideration. While household name media is always welcomed, don’t forget the power of the smaller, highly focused online and trade publications. If authors are pitching directly, research the outlet, the demographic, and send an introduction email. Here is an article from Contently.net with tips to help writers pitch on their own.
Byline Articles for Non-Fiction Authors
Non-fiction titles lend themselves beautifully for articles. For inspiration, authors can look to chapters in their book (sometimes chapter titles make great article titles), or expand on popular blog entries, which are typically shorter in length. Popular articles themes, across all genres, include:
- productivity tips—doing things better or more efficiently,
- learning the inside secrets of experts, and
- specific and actionable tips that result in increasing personal happiness/decreasing stress
Byline Articles for Fiction Authors
For fiction titles, authors and publicists need to be a bit more creative. For example, a romance book could offer an article to a local newspaper on the 7 most romantic locations in the city name. If a book is set in New Orleans with a chef as main character, a byline article geared for travel and food media outlets could be 10 cafes to sample New Oreleans’ best coffee or an article on recipes from the region, perhaps sent prior to Mardi Gras for a nice tie-in. If the fiction project is a children’s picture book about bullying and self-esteem, a byline article could feature specific tips parents can share with their five to seven year olds.
Author Guideline for Writing Byline Articles
There is a general format and style editors look for when reviewing byline article submissions. Here the guidelines:
- The article should be 700-900 words.
- The article should NOT be self-promoting in anyway. Don’t use “I”, “me”, “my” etc.
- The book should not be mentioned in the body of the article. However, include the book, author website, etc. should be part of the author bio. Also offer an author photo and book cover.
- The article should be strictly fact-based, and not opinion based (that’s an op-ed).
- The article should provide the reader actionable information they can easily apply.
- The article should be well organized.
- Tips, how-to, or numbers articles are favorites among the media as they keep an article organized.
- Use bullet points to make it easy for the reader to find valuable information to take with them. Example: 5 exercises to do at your desk to get you in tip-top shape for summer, 10 steps to save for your toddler’s college education, 7 biggest mistakes author make when designing their book cover
- The article should provide new information to the media, something that isn’t obvious.
- Going against conventional wisdom makes an article appealing.
- The topic should be applicable to all different types of people (unless writing an article for a very specific niche market) and easy to understand.
- It should be catchy, and, unless dealing with a very serious subject, don’t be afraid to have fun with the topic!
- Be honest. Some media outlets want exclusive, never before published articles. Never lie. If the article has already been published, offer the outlet ideas for a new and exclusive article.
The goal of a byline article is to get an author’s name and expertise out to their target audiences, and entice people to want to learn more. The key to successful placements is to think about the media outlet’s target reader and gear the article specifically for this audience to make it as easy as possible for editors to say yes to running the article. Once published, byline article links are excellent, credential- building assets to add to an author’s website and social media platforms, and also helps to grow the author’s digital footprint and brand.