4 Things to Avoid When Dealing with the Media

Monday, September 17, 2018

Frustration between media and authors can be a frequent occurrence. And warranted on both sides. But since the media ultimately holds the power when it comes to what they decide to cover, here are a few tips to help you avoid certain things that could keep you from having a spot!

Sometimes the media can drive an author crazy and really throw off a book marketing campaign. It’s frustrating, for example, when a book reviewer says she’ll review your book and months later nothing is published, because the reviewer changed her mind. Or, in the broadcast realm, if you have a TV interview scheduled, and it gets "bumped" the day before, meaning something else has taken the place of your planned interview. If it’s major breaking news, it’s understandable, but sometimes an interview is bumped simply because the producer or booker found something they liked better. Annoying and frustrating? Absolutely. But unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about it.

On the flipside, media get frustrated about some things authors do, and they're the ones who decide what runs and what doesn't. So, here are a few examples of things that frustrate and annoy mediathings you most definitely want to avoid in your book publicity efforts.

  • Promoting during an interview, rather than providing great information and commentary. Few things will bother a producer or host more than an author who repeatedly mentions their book during an interview. Remember, you were selected to be interviewed because you have interesting, informative, funny or simply engaging commentary to provide about a topic. Learn the art of the “soft sell.” Perhaps reference your book once, and let the host do the rest of the promoting by mentioning your book during and at the end of the interview.
  • Ignoring deadlines. Simply put: If you’re asked to write an article for placement in a print or online outlet and given a deadline, adhere to the deadline. The editor is counting on your piece to fill space, and if you miss a deadline, it throws their plans off and leaves them in a jam. Keep deadlines!
  • Complaining about a bad review. We once had a client who drove hundreds of miles to personally confront a reviewer who wrote a bad review of his book. This was an act of book promotion suicide, in addition to being thoroughly unprofessional. If you get a bad or lukewarm review, don't reach out to the reviewer and complain or go on social media badmouthing the reviewer. When you put your book out for review, you are asking reviewers to give their opinion. There are no promises it will be positive. This is a reality of book marketing; you need to accept it and understand the process. Beyond this, virtually every book gets a negative review from someone. It’s inevitable. Also consider that the fact someone even took enough interest to review your book, means something positive. Your book got their attention and a reviewer dedicated time to reading and writing about it. And, there are often parts of a not-so-good review you can extract and use that contain positive comments. Just be sure you’re doing this appropriately and not misleading.
  • Sending amateurish pitches. If you’re self-promoting, do your due diligence and learn how a media contact should be pitched. A reporter, editor, producer, reviewer, etc. will delete your email in a nanosecond if it looks amateurish. And, they may even be annoyed and remember you and your book and never take another look at anything else you send. Consider this: If you are not experienced in home improvement and decide to try a project at home by yourself, what do you do? You research, read, and learn how to do it right. It’s the same principle when it comes to book marketing. Educate yourself before building your campaign.

So remember, as much as you (and book publicists!) get frustrated and complain about media, it goes both ways, but there are definitely some steps you can take to improve your chances!

Experts in the Publishing Industry

Dan Smith

Dan Smith is CEO and Founder of Smith Publicity, the most prolific book marketing agency in the publishing industry, with over 3,000 books promoted since 1997. From first-time, self-published authors to New York Times bestsellers, Smith Publicity promotes every genre, and has secured media coverage for authors and books with every top media outlet in the U.S. and Canada. The firm has offices in Cherry Hill, NJ, and Toronto. Contact Smith Publicity at info@smithpublicity.com.