The “So What?” of Book Publicity

woman shrugging shoulders

A couple of my book publicist friends and I love to share valuable information with one another, everything from exchanging media contacts to tips and tricks on how best to promote our authors.

One of the key tips that each of us shares with all of our authors is to be able to succinctly answer the one question earned media has on their mind when you pitch them. If you’ve been a Savvy Sunday News reader, a participant in my online program called Media Book Camp, or if we’ve worked together one-on-one, then you have likely heard this before; it’s worth repeating:

When it comes to pitching your ideas to media, you have to be able to answer these two questions:

“Why you? Why now?”

Those questions are always in the background of their minds. “Why would doing some kind of coverage with you be important right now?” You have to answer this in your initial pitch.

(And, by the way, many podcasters and bloggers are not driven as much by these two questions simply because they’re not concerned with current news and trends and tend to cover content that is more evergreen, but top tier and secondary tier media do have that sense of urgency.)

My publicist friends and I have a name for it. We call it “the ‘so what’”?

You have a book. A topic. An idea. You want to share it with the world. How do you respond to someone asking, “So what?” And that, my friend, is the secret sauce in book publicity.

When pitching a media person via email, for example, you greet the person by name. Briefly tell them why you’re approaching them, and then give the answer to the “so what?”

Why does your book matter? Who cares? So what?

That may sound harsh, but in an incredibly noisy, busy market place, you can’t be lukewarm about it. You can’t warm up to why your message is important. You have to start with it.

This will also put you ahead of 90% of those pitching. You do NOT want to give generic, boring, standard reasons used by so many, e.g., “When it comes to coronavirus we’re all in this together.” Everyone knows that by now. You must say something that is unique, stands out, is short, and gets to the point. One or two sentences should do it.

You have to be able to tell your media targets why they should care. Is your “so what” the answer to a problem? Is it a call to action? Is it timely and specific? Is it igniting a national or global conversation? Is it whistleblower info? Do you have a sense of urgency? Are you busting a myth that society seems to have accepted?

To create this powerful response to “so what?” start with questions. You may remember we recently had an entire Savvy Sunday News release on the subject of questions. It’s here. In this case, rather than focusing on questions to get yourself motivated to do your own promotion, we’ve got questions for targeting your answer to “so what?”

First, you have to know your target audience or market and put yourself in their shoes. Then ask:

  • What are their pain points at this moment in time?
  • What keeps them up at night? What are they worried about?
  • What is the greatest problem or fear they have?
  • What is the problem you are the answer to?
  • What is the pain you are here to ease?
  • What is the dilemma you are here to resolve
  • What is the cost of not dealing with the problem?
  • What is your reader in danger of losing unless he or she has the solution you provide?
  • What is it that you say which no other experts on your topic says? How are you different?
  • What problems must my readers solve to be more successful or secure?
  • What emerging opportunities should my readers know and care about?
  • What newly emerging threats would my readers want to know about?
  • What is big in the news right now that is relevant to my audience?
  • What new or increasing misinformation should my targets be warned against?
  • What stories are my targets telling or wanting to hear during these times?

Some of the above questions may sound like they’re the same question, but using different language can actually elicit different responses, so try answering all of them.

Bottom line

Being able to answer the “so what?” in book publicity is key to landing those all-important interviews. Create yours now, and equally important, learn to communicate it with ease. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

To your success!


P.S. If you need help crafting your “so what” or your hooks & angles or soundbites, consider a Media Strategy Session. Doing this is my passion in the world and I’d be delighted to help you.





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