biz ladiesLife & Business

Biz Ladies: A Quick Guide to Self-Promotion

by Stephanie


Now that you’ve got the winning product, invaluable service and/or incredible business up and running, the next logical step is to let the masses know.  When it comes to promotion, there are two routes you can go down: hire an expert to execute and/or assist or do it yourself. While I’m sure we’d all love to have a team to help us professionally and effectively get the message out, sometimes that just isn’t an option and it’s all about relying on self-promotion.  So today, PR-maven and self-promotion expert, Melissa Davis of Ruby Press, offers some easy-to-follow steps to mastering your own successful self-promotion. If you’re stuck in a rut of how to spread the word about your business, today’s post may just be that push forward you need. —Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

I recently self-published a book alongside photographer Kristen Loken called This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places.  I also own a PR agency, so needless to say, promotingthe book was second nature, but I know that’s not the case with everyone who self-publishes a book.  Of course, having the luxury to hire an agency to promote your book is the easiest and likely most effective option, but here are some general guidelines on how to do it yourself.  Editors, writers, bloggers and producers love getting news about an interesting new book- and your book might be just what they’re looking for!

Determine your market-

Who will want to buy your book?  Men, women or both?  What age group?  Will it appeal to people reading food-oriented media outlets or it is fashion-related?  Will your book appeal to a DIY crowd?  Do you anticipate your book having regional appeal- or national?  Know who will be your target demographic and keep them in mind when moving onto the next steps.

Create your “pitch list”-

A “pitch list” is a PR term for the list of media outlets you will be approaching about your book.  Don’t waste your time pitching outlets that the book wouldn’t appeal to- and most importantly, don’t waste those editors’ or writers’ time.  Consider all different types of media- print (magazines, newspapers), online (websites and blogs), broadcast (TV), and radio.

Compile your contacts-

Find the appropriate contact at each outlet.  Look on magazine mastheads, read through the rolling credits at the end of TV shows, etc.  If you’re not sure who to contact, call the outlet and ask who would be the appropriate contact (i.e. who would potentially write about books like yours).  If it’s an outlet like a magazine, newspaper or blog that lists who wrote the article, look for past articles to see who has written on the subject that your book covers or who reviews/writes about books.  Get their email addresses as it’s not polite to pitch over the phone.

Time your pitch-

Long lead outlets ( outlets that work further in advance) like national magazines often have a 4 month lead time, meaning they will be working on a September issue in May or June.  Sometimes even sooner- or sometimes later- depending on the publication.  Regional magazines usually work on a 2-3 month lead time and newspapers often work a month out, but again, it could be longer lead or shorter, depending on the section or feature.  Online outlets and blogs have the shortest lead time- sometimes working a week in advance!  Approach the outlets keeping in mind their lead time.  You don’t want to pitch them too far in advance or too late, when the book release doesn’t feel newsy anymore.  Most outlets will want to write about the book the month it hits the shelves.

Create your pitch-

Keep your pitch (your email to the editor) concise and to the point.  Tell them the name of the book, when it releases and the retail price.  Explain why you wrote the book, what it’s about, and what makes it special. Show sample spreads from the book if it’s visually driven, and include a PDF of at least an excerpt from the book so they can read through it themselves.  If you have the budget to send a copy of the book (you can have advance copies sent to you from the printer), that’s ideal.  Send one email and check in within a week or two with a follow up email, but don’t harass them.  If they’re interested, they’ll be back in touch with you.

Use that press coverage-

When you start amassing great press coverage for your book, show it off!  Tell retailers about it, share it through social media, and of course post it to your book’s website.  Don’t let it live in a bubble- and don’t feel shy about getting the word out.

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  • I am stoked on creating a pitch list, finding my niche, digging for their e-mail, what I struggle with is my final e-mail. Is it worded well, does it get to the point quick, could it be written in a more approachable tone? Can you simply hire someone to review your final pitch and make some suggestions? That’s really what I need. The rest I am ok with doing the asses and elbows work for.