Analogies between baseball and book publicity are fairly common. I use them often when speaking with authors, because baseball rules and strategy very succinctly help me get key points across.
The most obvious analogy: Baseball has singles, doubles, triples, home runs and grand slams and book publicity does as well:
- Singles represent media opportunities such as local radio interviews or small podcasts.
- Doubles are regional newspaper and TV coverage.
- Triples can be thought of as syndicated radio interviews, large newspaper coverage, and very popular blogs.
- Home runs represent coverage such as national TV and national magazines.
- Grand slams? Think of these as a long form interview on a national TV show—sitting down one-on-one with major broadcaster for an intense interview. These don't happen often!
Avoid a Grand Slam Mentality When It Comes to Book Publicity
When baseball players “swing for the fences,” they are going for broke; putting all of their focus solely on slamming the ball over the fence. Most of the time, this leads to lower production, lower batting averages, and strikeouts. When authors are obsessed with only national TV to promote their book, or only the very top national magazines and newspapers—they’re swinging for the fences.
Unless you’re a household name, this usually isn't a good strategy in book marketing. Home runs for authors can and obviously do happen, and when the time and opportunity is right, you should swing for the fences, but this should be just a part of your overall game plan.
Vary Your Book Publicity Strategy
The majority of the time—just as in baseball—you “score runs” (think sell books) by getting many singles, doubles, etc. When sometimes punctuated with a home run, you could score many runs!
Think about this: Pete Rose set the record for most hits and is legendary as a champion and one of the best hitters ever, and he hit only 160 home runs over 24 seasons. My firm has had clients who’ve enjoyed very successful, long campaigns with no true home runs. You see the point, I’m sure.
So, I suggest authors relish the small hits—do as many radio interviews as you can, regardless of where they are. Do an interview with your tiny hometown newspaper. Get a mention of your book in a tiny special interest trade magazine with a circulation of 500. Get a mention in your college alumni publication. Take it all; do it all; relish it all; and stick with it.
Do indeed try for the home runs, but don’t swing so hard you end up striking out and never get on base.