2020 has been an “interesting” year. Someone posted on social media recently that they wished they could leapfrog over several months to Christmas and forget about the pandemic and the looming election for a while. I understand that sentiment and I know I’m not alone in this.
September has arrived though, which is puzzling. On the one hand, the “stay-at-home orders” that began in the United States last March seem like a lifetime ago, yet on the other hand, it’s hard to believe fall is almost here! Time is a funny thing.
I know I’m not alone in this feeling either.
Speaking of time, I heard another publicist say recently that unless you can tie into Covid or the election, you just can’t do anything with your book this year. I can appreciate his point of view, but it’s not one I share. While it looks true on the surface, I have found there are always exceptions, and I’ve got a couple of books I’m working on that are in no way related to either news topic, AND that’s exactly how I pitch them. “This book is an escape from it all; don’t you think your audience would appreciate a break from this onslaught of reality TV that makes up our daily lives? It has worked numerous times, so never say never. Of course, one of my great passions is to bust a myth.
And, as I love to say, one way to promote your book is to find a way to tie it into the calendar, so we’re going to look at a few of the special days in September…just for fun. Do you have a book that ties into any of the following topics?
The month of September is…
- Self Improvement Month
- National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
- National Courtesy Month
- National Recovery Month
- National Self-Care Awareness Month
- National Suicide Prevention Month
- Intergenerational Month
- Happy Cat Month
- Fall Hat Month
- September 5: Be Late for Something Day
- September 6: Read a Book Day (YES!)
- September 17: Talk Like a Pirate Day. If you need some lessons, listen here.
- September 19: Read an e-Book Day. (YES AGAIN!)
- The Autumn Equinox, September 22 (Which also happens to be my wedding anniversary.)
- Hug a Vegetarian Day, September 25
There’s no doubt that the featured events in September are a sharp contrast to what we’re hearing in the news on a daily basis. It’s a bit of a relief, don’t you think? We all need a little break from the hard news now and then and if you and your book’s topic can make that happen, then there are some media outlets looking for you, no matter what some other well-meaning people might say.
With that in mind, I have another recommendation when pitching now, or anytime there is a big story:
First, research who you are planning to reach out to and find out what they’re covering this week. When approaching them, refer to something they wrote and then create a bridge from that to what your pitch idea is, and then run the idea by them. Now that’s only if there is a natural bridge. Non sequiturs are not effective here.
Second, there once was a day when pitching to large groups of media worked. They might not tell you this, but as someone who has worked in publicity for a fair amount of time now, you could get a decent amount of coverage with that approach. This is particularly true if you have breaking news because it’s actually expected.
Now, however, one on one works better for many reasons, including the fact that everyone wants something new and unique for them that has not and will not be published elsewhere — including your own blog.
Third, we have far more media types out there who are not actually trained professionals and they have their own way of doing things. You want to be sensitive to this if you want to get any coverage at all. Even some trained media professionals are moving in this direction, so keep that in mind.
And finally, as I said before, I love busting a myth. If “everyone” says “you can’t book anything on a Friday afternoon,” well, I’m the one testing that at 4 p.m. right before a 3-day holiday weekend. I landed Time magazine that way once.
If someone says there is no way you can promote your book during election season, it could be true, but then again…You can test it. Remember to be sensitive, however. You want to acknowledge that you know there is a huge story unfolding so that you don’t look like you’re living on Exile Island. (A reference to earlier episodes of the television show Survivor.)
With the story of Covid, you don’t have to acknowledge it too much anymore. In fact, you have to be careful. Phrases such as, “in these difficult times,” “In times like these…” “At this time…” are way overused. You don’t want to be lumped into the clueless, late-to-the-party category.
There are nuances to communication and you want to make sure you strike the right tone. Pay attention to what is going on and what is being said. Research who you want to reach out to, get familiar with what they’re doing, and then give it your best shot.
Good luck! I’m in your corner!
To your success!
P.S. A great big THANK YOU to my clients who allow me to do the work that I love. You’re the best of the best!