By Becky Blanton –
Since newspapers generally have a policy of NOT reviewing self-published books it’s almost impossible to get a book review in any newspaper. Some papers go so far as to not review anything published by any publisher other than the major standards such as Penguin, Random House etc. However, as a journalist who has worked at more than five newspapers, including Gannett, Media General and Landmark, there is hope.
A feature story about you is more credible and likely to generate interest than a review of your book. So look at your life and see what you have to offer newspapers readers. Do you collect Santa Claus dolls or trains? Have you turned your living room into a bird sanctuary where 50 birds fly free where your couch used to sit? Do you spend your weekends building tree houses for neighborhood kids? I wrote feature stories on all these people. When you can get a reporter interested in you running your 10th marathon, or heading up the drive to distribute sleeping bags to the homeless it’s very easy to work in, “Oh, and I just published a book.” If you have something in your life to pitch to a reporter OTHER than your book, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to talk about writing the book in the article.
Your self-published book may drive interest in something the public wants to know about. For instance, a parent who self-publishes a book on how to get through the diagnosis, treatment and outcome of her child’s cancer to raise money for cancer research or her child, is likely to get a reporter’s attention. So is the coach who writes a book on how to introduce your child to sports. If you have a recognized expertise, most reporters will find a story in that.
Have you written a book on the history of your town and had to go on some amazing road trips, or dig into old courthouse documents, or interview veteran’s in a nearby nursing home to get the information for the book? Then you have a story any reporter would be interested in—if your efforts were extreme, unique or funny enough. Did you have to go to Paris or Italy for research? Did you, at the age of 65, learn to shoot a machine gun in order to finish your thriller? Did you fall in love and get married while doing research for your romance novel? That’s a story!
Are you related to someone famous who is mentioned in the book? You don’t have to be Oprah’s long lost sister, but if the town’s local celebrity is related to you, then good for you! If you’re a famous coach, teacher or political figure who self-publishes a book, chances are you’ll get the attention of any small town paper.
Think holidays! If you’ve written a book on Thanksgiving traditions, or how to wrap Christmas gifts, or anything related to the big holidays—Veteran’s Day/Memorial Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas, Easter etc., MOST small to medium newspapers will write a story to tie the holiday to a local person.
Don’t stop at your daily paper. Almost all cities have alternative papers, and rural areas have weekly papers. If you live in a “bedroom community” then chances are you have a weekly paper who’d love to write about your book. But read several issues of the paper FIRST, before you write the editor. Try to see if your book has relevance for the readership. There are all kinds of weekly papers for seniors, grandparents, sports enthusiasts, fishermen and parents. Try to find a paper (most are free and distributed at libraries, grocery stores and shopping centers) that caters to people who would be interested in your book. Don’t try to get a grandparenting magazine to review your Sci-fi thriller. Do get a parenting magazine to look at your “How I Learned to Get Offline and Love the Playground” book on parenting in a high tech society.
Don’t forget bloggers! Many of the larger newspapers read local blogs and will pick up on any content that generates online buzz. The trick is to never stop marketing! You can do it!
Becky Blanton just self-published her first novel, The October Abduction of Thomas Martin: Bloodline. It’s Christian Sci-fi, sort of The Davinci Code meets the Left Behind Series. She’s not having any problems getting it reviewed, but then—it’s about UFOs and aliens and this just happens to be 2012!