It seems simple enough: a media contact or blogger, online reviewer, etc. requests a copy of your book. So, you toss it into an envelope and send it off. Request fulfilled. Done. Well . . . perhaps not so fast.
How a book is mailed, packaged, addressed, and delivered can all actually be very important in terms of increasing (or decreasing) the chances of:
- Your envelope or package even be opened
- Your book actually being read or at least looked at, and
- Whether you end up getting some type of coverage or interview
So, here are some insider tips to help give you an edge on the many, many other authors also sending books to media.
Send More Than Just the Book
Minimally, you should send a personalized letter, and not just personalized because you address it to them. Personalization should also include the fact that they requested the book and ideally, a line or two referencing that you’re aware of recent stories, reviews, or interviews the contact wrote or arranged. This shows you’ve really taken the request seriously. Also, always include your email and author website address.
Another option is to clip a personalized, handwritten note to the book cover. Write something nice and positive and mention you look forward to hearing back from them. Make sure your email and author website is included on the note, and write neatly!
You typically want to also include a professional press release.
Watch Your Folds
Here’s an interesting fact I learned many years ago in a previous career when I worked in direct mail: anything printed one-sided that is mailed should be folded with the content showing on the outside. If you think of when you send a letter to a friend, you fold it so that the letter is revealed upon opening. In the world of publicity, you essentially reverse the folding.
Why? Direct mail studies showed that an item is more likely to be read when folded out, with the content showing. It’s no different when you’re mailing your book. You will likely fold your letter and press release and put them inside the book. Fold them inside out and they’re more likely to be read! It works!
Don’t Mail Your Book; Send it FedEx or UPS
The reason is simple: think about when you receive mail at your home. Most of it will be immediately tossed away. But what about when you get an overnight or priority FedEx or UPS delivery? I can almost guarantee you open these. A media contact will often react the same way, and be much more likely to take a look at what you’ve sent as opposed to regular mail.
I once actually ended up doing my own test of this. I was promoting a great book and great author who had potential for national TV. I mailed unrequested books to three of the top national morning news TV shows. I was surprised when I heard nothing back. I re-sent the book and materials via FedEx, and two of the shows responded. In this case, my client didn't make it on to these national shows, but I got two of three producers to take the time to at least consider my client because I changed the delivery method.
Sometimes the smallest things can make a big difference!