I’ve worked in publicity and advertising since I was twenty and am constantly looking for ways to apply what I learned to publicize my novels. My newest book, Champagne Widows, takes place in the 1800s. What could possibly be newsworthy about that today? I’m going to share the methods I employed for getting publicity for Champagne Widows in the hopes they help you do the same for your novels.
First and foremost: start way earlier than you think you need to. National publications want materials five to six months before publication date, and you need to develop a plan and materials before that. So start planning nine months beforehand. It’s just like having a baby.
What is newsworthy about your novel? What are the issues covered in your novel that are headlines today? Whether you are writing historical fiction or biographical historical fiction, there must be issues that relate to the news or specific interests of today that will help hook an editor.
With Champagne Widows, I was surprised to discover how many issues in the 1800s are issues we are still dealing with today. These issues formed a headline to my press release. “First widow of Champagne, Veuve Clicquot, battled pandemics, mental illness, sexist laws prohibiting a woman from owning a business, fifteen years of war, and Napoleon himself to forge her champagne empire.”
What are the issues that you delve into with your book, and how do they relate to today’s media? Or what are the aspects of your book that people would find fascinating now?
The tools you’ll need: create a one-sheet about your book that includes all the pertinent information, include a media kit on your website, and create a press release about related events that people can attend. Newspapers always want local events to tie into the story, so I time virtual and in-person book events to coincide with press releases.
For examples of the one-sheet and media kit, visit my website.
Take advantage of A+ content on Amazon to embellish your story. This is visual content that appears under your novel under the title “From the Publisher.” You can create this content in your Author Central dashboard under A+ material in every country in which your book is sold. Here’s an example.
Write a magazine article about the subject of your book. I wrote a magazine article about Veuve Clicquot and all the difficulties she faced in the 1800s in starting a champagne business. The article was picked up by MS Magazine and Wine Spectactor, and widely shared.
Compile publicity lists of media, stores, and libraries to send your pitch. Depending on your subject and who your book appeals to, you can purchase media lists for specific groups: women’s interest magazines, travel magazines, culture magazines, luxury magazines, food and wine magazines, newspaper book editors, radio stations for interviews, independent bookstores, libraries, etc. There are many companies from which to purchase lists. I chose EasyMediaLists and NewPages.
Target each pitch to the audience and, if possible, a national event. Tailor your pitch to appeal to each specific media. For example, if you are sending to a food magazine, be sure your email hooks them on your book’s exploration of food and markets, and you can augment that with photos from your research trip.
For Champagne Widows, I focused on Women’s History Month in March and pitched the national media in October/November so they would have time to include my book. First for Women and Woman’s World said they would include the book.
Women’s History Month is a great tie in for most historical fiction books with women protagonists. I have found great interest from local media to include my books on historical women in March, especially if I have events in conjunction. In 2022, I staged seven events around Women’s History Month, some virtual and some in-person.
Radio. I love to talk about my books, so I pitch radio stations. Each of my novels has had great luck attracting talk shows. Again, target your pitch to appeal NOW. I was on several radio programs and podcasts with the Women’s History Month focus. You can buy a radio station list and pitch yourself, or if you have a budget, I recommend Annie Jennings PR for the best possible reach.
IBPA Independent Book Publisher’s Association. If you are an indie writer, I highly suggest joining IBPA and taking advantage of their beneficial programs, such as Media Outreach. I had fifty media contacts respond to the IBPA media outreach! Other beneficial programs include NetGalley to reach reviewers, library outreach, foreign market outreach, and so much more.
For Champagne Widows, I’ve garnered at least twenty articles, podcasts, and blogs so far. I plan to continue contact with the interested media.
Don’t forget Facebook groups, bloggers, podcasters, bookstagrammers, and book tubers. It will take time to gather a list of bloggers who will be interested in your book, but it’s worth it. I search for blogs that have covered related books and send them a query. You can offer an ebook or paperback—paperbacks are preferred to get more visual appeal. I’d say about ten percent answer, but they are good! Even better if they ask for a live video. Here’s a video example from Linda’s Book Obsession and a podcast by The Perks of Being a Book Lover!
Sending Books to Media. Make sure you have a great-looking package to make your book stand out when you send it. I chose champagne bubble envelopes to go with Champagne Widows and sent a one sheet and a personal note with each copy. I have custom mailing labels with my book cover. Make sure you have enough books and envelopes on hand. Send via media mail and allow two weeks for delivery. Media Mail runs between $2 and $4 depending on the weight of your book.
Now you understand why you must start early. Organize the lists. Brainstorm news hooks. Write releases, media kits, and targeted emails. Send, respond. Make sure you have books to send the media. Rethink and repeat. I aim for three to four contacts with the media over the nine months, using different pitches. No one said publicity was for the faint of heart, but then again, neither was writing your novel!
Rebecca Rosenberg is a champagne geek, lavender farmer, and triple-gold award-winning author of historical novels. To sign up for her newsletter, go to https://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com
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