Textbook promotion: How to earn local, national media attention

Michelle A. Blackely

Michelle A. Blackley

“Houghton Mifflin Harcourt putting a halt on buying any new manuscripts”

“Publishing companies will no longer expense (extravagant) lunches with literary agents”

“Plunging sales and stocks reported from booksellers”

With headlines like these, the publishing community is wondering how the book industry will survive in a rocky economy, especially those in publicity. Anyone in public relations, media and even writers know promotion is needed to sell books but convincing upper brass can sometimes be an uphill battle. The good news is anyone can promote his or her work. A fancy Manhattan PR firm doesn’t have to be hired for big dollars.

Consider these tips to earn local and national media attention for your work:

  • The United States has a brand name society and the American consumer trusts what they know. If you are an author, especially a first-timer, creating a strong name and reputation for yourself in the book business matters most. Show your efforts, your credibility and highlight your book(s) on your website, signatures of emails, college/university newsletter, etc.
  • “Doing lunch” is still possible, just scale it down. Ask a publisher out for coffee and be ready to go Dutch.
  • Bigger isn’t always better. If your usual publishing house is going to drop your second or third book option, or flat out reject you, don’t fret. Look for a smaller house that may even have a budget set aside for an in-house publicity campaign. If that fails, self-publishing is becoming more popular and outsourcing provides great economical relief.
  • One of the great alternatives to traditional marketing is the use of publicity. Having an article written about you in the local newspaper or being interviewed by the news media positions you as an expert in your community. The best way to get this free publicity is by writing a well-written press release. A press release, simply put, is a statement prepared for the media that provides them with useful, accurate and interesting information. Remember, journalists are constantly searching for their next story and a well-written press release fulfills that need.

With the economy giving everyone a run for his or her money, it doesn’t mean it’s time to hide your important work and become invisible. Whether your goal is to have a book adopted in a college class or get an invitation from Oprah, it’s essential to lead with positivity and creativity. Don’t just sell – promote.

Michelle Blackley is a literary publicist in Buffalo, NY. She is also an adjunct lecturer of communication at Buffalo State College and a freelance writer.