Showing posts with label free publicity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free publicity. Show all posts

Thursday, February 4, 2016

So, Can't Anyone Give Me Some Details for Writing a Great Pitch?

People tell authors to pitch to the media; they even tell us how to write a pitch. But only sort of. Don't you wish they would occasionally tell you how to do that? And do it effectively? 

Here are seven things your pitch can do to keep a gatekeeper interested long enough to book you:
1.   A headline or first sentence must capture the reader. Here are ideas for doing that? 

  • Use a statistic that is so off-the-wall that it’s hard to believe (but it’s true).
  • Make an outrageous statement. 
  • Be so clever with rhyme, alliteration, or pun that the gatekeeper just plain wants to read some more. 
  • Make it be about something that is somehow so closely related to the media gatekeepers' demographic (meaning their reader or audience) that it will be immediately obvious how it will fit into their own plans or business needs. Make it even better by letting them know you know it does relate because you read their magazine or column or blog.

2.   Throw in adjectives. No, not “awesome” or “great.” That’s up to them to decide if your story idea is awesome or great.  Words like “award-winning,” “multi award-winning,” “bestselling” or “two decades of experience” do work, though.
3.   Actually be about something more than “I published a book.” Substance. Concrete. Useful. Powerful. Think “benefits” when you write this sentence or paragraph.
4.   Offer exclusivity.  Maybe offer exclusivity with a deadline. You can make that offer to someone else when that deadline passes. 
5.   Let the media know that you are equipped to handle their needs. With experience in radio (or whatever) as an example. With Toastmaster experience. As a team leader and speaker in the business world.
6.   Close with a sentence that makes it clear you’d like to provide them with anything that would make their job easier.
7.   Don’t ask questions. It’s your job to make it so clear they won’t have to ask any.

So, what sells? If you can angle your pitch around current new, sex, money, kids, celebrity, better health, travel or sports, go for it. You’ll be ahead of the game. Just make sure you send your pitch to the right editors/gatekeepers for each topic. Celebrity? Entertainment or politics. Money? The business section of your newspaper. Kids? Some women’s magazines. You get the idea.

Bonus Tip:  Know how to write killer query letters. You can get tips right from the mouths of agents who share their pet peeves with The Frugal Editor.  And, step-by-step guidelines for all your PR sales tools with The Frugal Book Promoter

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the PlaceHarkening: A Collection of Stories RememberedTracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisherThe multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Help a Reporter Out Your Path to Free Publicity

Getting Your Book Mentioned

Help a Reporter Out Can Be a Boon for Your Career



Most everyone knows about Help a Reporter Out, also called HARO.

The trouble is, many don’t know how to make it work very well for them.


Here’s what it is. It’s a listing of reporters, bloggers, and other media folks who need your help or the help of someone else out there. It’s a little like a list of classified ads from media folk. Often they want opinion. They may want expertise. They may even want to cast you in a reality show. All you have to do to get these targeted (and carefully categorized) calls for help in your e-mail box is sign up at But then, of course, like anything else, you have to “work it.”


Some consider it a bit of a problem that these HARO notices come to them several times a day. I did. I signed up and eventually thought I didn’t have time to fool with the extensive lists. I was discouraged because I didn’t get the immediate results I thought I should. So I unsubscribed. But here’s the thing. I wasn’t getting results I wanted because I wasn’t using it right and—of course—because I wasn’t willing to be persistent. Then I tried it again. I changed my tactics. I didn’t frame myself as an author, but as an expert. Once I learned how to approach the people I contacted, I got better, more frequent results. I had to learn the hard way. You don’t.


So, I thought I’d give you some of my hard-won tips:


1.   Sign up.

2.   Try to look at every e-mail HARO sends out and quickly pick out the calls that might directly apply to you or the ones you can skew toward you. Example: I answered one that wanted people who had suffered some kind of stroke so I shared my little story about a TIA I had while I was in Tibet. I was there for inspiration for a novel and my poetry. I was careful to include that reference to my creative work (along with links to some buy pages) in the answer I sent. But I was also careful not to make that the major thrust of my query.

3.    At first I thought these were all real reporters who would actually call me for an interview or at least to check facts. The world is a different place since I was a reporter. Writers are in a bigger hurry. That means you need to be complete with your answer. Use anecdotes. Use soundbites. This is great training, by the way, for learning what intrigues media people and what doesn’t. Give them contact information and permission to call you if they wish. Note: Though I have received lots of publicity using HARO, not once has someone called me.

4.   Always include a little bio. You can copy and paste it but it should include the kind of information about your background that applies to the kind of question your contact wanted answered. Include links to your Web site, blog, or online bookstores buy page. Sometimes the writers use that bio exactly as you gave it to them.At the risk of being redundant, media folks are busy. If your note to them requires tons of work to corral details you didn’t include, they’ll just use someone else who did a better job of giving them what they need.

5.   Keep at it. As with all marketing, persistence pays.

6.   Don’t get discouraged. Expect that you may hit gold on about one of every ten or twenty calls you answer. But one of those can reach a ton of new readers.

7.   When you learn that your answer has been used, go online and comment and send a thank you to the writer. If you don’t know how you could possibly know if your helpful piece gets used, you need to refer again to your Frugal Book Promoter ( and find “alerts” in the index. Note: Sometimes the blogger or reporter (the smartest ones!) will let you know you were mentioned and even give you a permalink to use in your own marketing.

8.   If you get featured on a relatively big site, add the coup to your media kit, your Web site, and maybe even blog about it.


Remember, you’re not just selling books here. You’re building a writing career. You’re building name recognition. You’re networking, too!

~To reprint this article in your own blog, Web site, or elsewhere, send me a quickie query at HoJoNews(at) AOL (dot) com. I almost never say no! (-: In other words, I’m happy to Help a Reporter Out!

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