Most book publicists agree: compared to working with non-fiction, securing traditional media coverage for novels can be challenging. Unless it’s a household name author, how can a novelist who wrote a made-up story, get meaningful broadcast and print media coverage? That is the nature of fiction, after all – it’s not real and therefore inherently not newsworthy. But fiction can indeed be turned into “real” media coverage, you just need to get a little creative.
It’s Not About Your Book. It’s About You.
When it comes to radio and TV interviews or newspaper and magazine stories, producers and editors need people, not books (book reviews being one noticeable exception). For non-fiction authors, it’s relatively easy, but it's a bit trickier for novelists.
Here’s the key: many novelists base their books, at least in part, on their own real-life experiences. Themes or storylines often come from some field of expertise; a career, personal experiences, hobbies, travel, etc.
Become an Angler
Practice the art of turning fiction into reality for your book publicity. Do a deep dive into the backstory of your book. Put yourself under the microscope. Make a list that includes every possible thing that comes to mind when answering these questions:
- Why did I really write this story?
- What was the very first thought I had when I decided to write my book?
- Why did I use locations and settings in the book?
- Did I use any of my expertise to write the book?
- Are there elements of my book for which I relied on my own personal life experiences?
- Did I do research to write my story?
You might be surprised by the results of this author self-inventory.
From your list, put your media hat on and think like an editor or reporter. What are they looking for? What do you read about in your local newspaper, in the magazines you read, on online news and special interest sites? Then review your list.
Chances are, you’ll find something newsworthy.
Examples of Book Publicity for Fiction Books
- A self-published, first time novelist wrote a gangster book, in the vein of The Godfather. He was never in or associated with organized crime, and worked as a financial advisor. He simply wrote a very good story. And, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Mafia. He intensely researched the major crime families, and had a virtual PhD in the world of gangsters. The Sopranos TV show was all the rage at the time, with millions of people learning how real gangsters operated. With some creative pitching, he was able to land nearly fifty radio interviews. In interviews he would explain the colorful lingo and what certain Mafia terms meant. One of the pitches used was “A Pinch, Boost, Fence and Swag: Give Your Audience the Ultimate Mafia Lingo Quiz.” He even landed a half-page story about his expertise and research in the New York Times.
- A woman wrote a whimsical love story based in a small northeastern Pennsylvania town. An old, quaint diner in the town was featured throughout the book as a memorable meeting place for the two main characters. She contacted the local newspaper for the town, and simply told an editor she had written a story based in the town, and revolving around the diner. The newspaper ran a story about her and the book. But it doesn't end there. The diner contacted the author and asked her to hold a special book signing/event at the diner. Over 100 people attended, and the event itself made the local TV news. But it doesn't end there. An Associated Press reporter saw the article in the local paper, contacted the author, and wrote a story about her book promotion. It subsequently ran in over 200 newspapers.
- A woman wrote a sweeping romance based in Europe. It was pure fiction. But in doing her version of the self-inventory, she remembered why she included a certain event – a terrifying incident that resulted in a sexual assault. She had experienced something similar, and she remembered how cathartic it was to write that part of the book, how it made her feel good to “talk” about it through her book. Using the angle of how writing can help victims of sexual assault, the author and her book were featured in three major newspapers.
So, getting real media coverage for your make-believe book is possible. Be creative. Get to know yourself better than perhaps you did before. You’ll likely find something interesting and newsworthy, and good book publicity will follow.