The 10 Biggest Mistakes New Authors Make

New Author blog post image

I’m gearing up to teach a Publishing 101 for New Authors Workshop on September 24th at an amazing women’s collaborative workspace called The Hivery in Sausalito, CA. Naturally, to prepare for the class, I’m boning up on my reading and while looking back at some of my favorite bookmarked articles, I came across this one by PR pro, Brooke Warner on the Huffington Post.   If you’re a new author, read on. It’s filled with valuable information –much of which I typically share with my clients as well.  And to all my friends in PR and publishing, see anything missing? Please feel free to chime in.  Let me know what you think. Write on! —Andrea


I have to preface this post by noting how easy it is to make mistakes when you’re on the road to becoming a published author. This is an emotional journey, and ego can sometimes get in the way. Then there’s the many details you must hold, which even publishers get wrong from time to time. I’ve experienced firsthand the pain of a few or more projects that went to print with pretty egregious problems. And it hurts. Sometimes entire print runs are destroyed as a result. These top 10 mistakes are among the most common I see in my work with authors. Some are about mindset and others are more technical oversights. If you’ve made any of these mistakes, you’re in good company. The best we can do is learn, and spread the word so others take heed.

1. Believing what they want to hear.

This one’s tough to begin with, but writers need to hear it. Many authors get derailed from their projects or coaxed into doing something with their books that goes against their better judgment. This can happen with traditional publishing when an agent or editor tells you to change your project because they’re sure they can sell your book. It happens with subsidy publishing companies that try to sell you all sorts of stuff you don’t need. At this stage of the game, as hard as it might be, it’s time to start to treat your book like a product, not a baby. Having too much emotional attachment can lead to problems.

2. Not taking advantage of every available digital platform.

A lot of authors decide to publish their e-book right out of the gate with Kindle Select, forgoing opportunities to publish on Nook and other digital platforms because they figure all that really matters is Amazon. This is a lost opportunity. If you’re publishing traditionally, this one won’t apply to you, but no matter how you publish your e-book, publish widely. Especially now, when plenty of readers are choosing not to buy from Amazon.

3. Deciding that they don’t need a marketing campaign, or starting one too late.

Marketing starts way before your book is published. Many new authors decide they’re not going to market their book, until their book comes out and nothing is happening. It’s not selling and they don’t know what to do. Then they try to hire a publicist, but it’s generally too late. I’ve worked with a number of women who’ve had to come around to the idea that they are worthy of spending money on a marketing campaign. These are extra dollars, and the psychological barrier can be high, but really all authors in this day and age — self- or traditionally published — should hire a book publicist.

4. Believing that more is better.

More is not always better, and you want to be careful about what you’re signing on for. Many subsidy publishers, for instance, offer publishing packages that include a host of items, which sometimes sound so impressive that you feel like you’re getting A lot for your money. However, things like your Library of Congress number, your ISBN, or filing your copyright are services that cost the publisher next to nothing. Be wary. I’ve seen subsidy publishers offering things like book trailers, postcards, and even trips to Book Expo in New York to the tune of thousands of dollars. Don’t get stars in your eyes. Use your money wisely and shop around.

5. Going renegade.

This is easy to do. Many authors go renegade because they’re trying to save money. They feel that they’ll “figure it out” as they make their way through the publishing process. I assure you that going renegade will cost you in the long run. Invest in a single consultation with an expert to better understand your options and what makes sense for you. Be realistic about how much you actually understand about publishing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Don’t overspend for no good reason (point #4), but don’t skimp on getting necessary help, either.

6. Not doing enough research on who they’re publishing with.

Many authors just follow ads to a certain publishing solution and stop there. It’s important to do due diligence and research. There are thousands of posts online about the difference between CreateSpace and Ingram Spark, for instance. There are a whole host of partnership publishers (like She Writes PressTurning Stone Press, and Inkshares) popping up all over the place. Many of them are mission-driven and operate totally outside of the traditional or self-publishing model. Ask for references, and make sure you feel good about the company you’re going to be doing business with. You might also want to check the author-advocate site Editors & Predators just to see what’s what.

7. Believing that “traditional” is better, no matter what.

This mindset will limit your publishing opportunities. I’ve seen authors languish for years (literally) in the space of trying to find an agent or waiting for an agent to secure a publishing deal. Traditional publishing is also suffering in two distinct ways: the barriers to entry are so high that it’s alienating its base; and it’s so focused on author platform and “big books” that it’s losing relevance fast. Many more authors than ever before are opting out of traditional publishing for more control and better profit margins on their sales. It’s cool to aspire to traditionally publish, but if you’re not getting bites, don’t let your book die on the shelf just because you harbor some sort of judgment about alternative publishing paths.

8. Failing to get sample product.

If you’re going to publish with a hybrid or partnership press, or even if you’re going to print your self-published book with CreateSpace or Ingram Spark, get samples! If the company won’t provide them for free, invest the $10 to order one of its books from Amazon. You want to see how the books look and feel. Most authors I work with do not ask for samples, and this is putting a lot of faith into the hands of a company that’s producing something so important to you.

9. Not hiring professionals.

A lot of self-published authors skimp on editorial and production, but it’s such a bad mistake. Every book should be copyedited and proofread — ideally more than once. There are so elements to track when it comes to book design, and it’s incredibly easy to make mistakes. Over the course of my career as an editor and publisher I’ve seen all the many mistakes that get caught post-production, and this is with a professional team working on books. Things like running heads, pagination, tables of contents aligned with chapter titles and page numbers — the list goes on and on. Have someone who knows what they’re doing review your laid-out pages too. It’s crucial to review, review, and review again prior to printing your book.

10. Choosing a print run over print-on-demand (POD).

Some authors should get a print run, but most should not. Unless you absolutely know you can sell 1,000 copies within the first year of publication, don’t get a print run. And brace yourself for the fact that selling this many copies is a lot harder to do than you might think. Too many authors naively believe that they will easily sell thousands of copies. I’d urge you to start to consider that selling 1,000 copies as a self-published author constitutes a success. Many of your sales, you must remember, will be e-books. POD is awesome because you only pay for what you sell, so, for the vast majority of you, POD is a smart business decision.

Small Business Publicity Bootcamp


Because you need to stand out.

You’re a small business owner and you know you need to do something to promote your company, but where do you begin?

The Top 10 Burning Questions of Every Small Business Owner:

  1. What is the difference between Marketing and PR?
  2. What is difference between the main types of online marketing?
  3. Do I need to hire a marketing person or a publicist to promote my business?
  4. How do you know if you should be using Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest or twitter?
  5. How do I build fans and followers online?
  6. How important is Yelp for my business and do Facebook ads work?
  7. Do I need to advertise in my local paper?
  8. How do I get mentioned in the press?
  9. How do I contact the press?
  10. Will all of this help my business grow and make me more money?

These questions are important to ask and we’ll give you the information you need to answer them! We want to help you navigate the traditional media and social media landscape to generate attention for your business. That’s what we do best.

What we’ll teach you:

  • Branding and Publicity: How these 2 connect and what makes them important
  • The most important thing business owners need to know about publicizing their brand or product
  • What gets the media excited, and how you can stand out
  • What a pitch email/letter should consist of
  • What kind of content makes for good publicity opportunities
  • How to create content online that attracts a loyal audience
  • How to differentiate yourself from your competitors and really stand out

What you’ll come away with:

  • Press release
  • Pitch letter
  • Your core message or “Elevator Pitch”
  • Complete and up-to-date list of media outlets and contacts to whom you can send your pitches and/or press release (this includes print, online, blogs, radio and TV)
  • One-hour consultation with step-by-step instructions on how to get started on your publicity plan and understanding which types of publicity and marketing are best suited for your business
  • Dozens of cutting edge tips and tricks to getting your company noticed

Fee: $1500.00

Book your consultation TODAY.  

(ph)  650-207-0917  (e)

Visit For more information.

Full service PR campaigns are also available.

Andrea Burnett has 20+ years of publicity and marketing experience in some of the country’s biggest brands. She has worked with top-tier media professionals and landed her clients media attention in outlets from The New York Times to Oprah Magazine to the Today Show to The Wall Street Journal and hundreds of popular blogs and websitesall over the world.







How to Write a Winning Cookbook Proposal

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I love food. I love to cook for my family and friends. I love to talk about food and think about what I’m going to make every night. I love to read books about food and watch films about chefs, and I would gladly give my right arm to just sit at a table with David Chang over a bowl of his sublime ramen. As a lifestyle publicist, I’ve worked on many a cookbook campaign, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most amazing cookbook authors—most of whom are generally really cool people. Some are still very special to me. I still love watching their careers and lives unfold on Facebook and Instagram. And while I may no longer be working on their book publicity, they still remain dear to me, and their books will forever live on my own kitchen bookshelf.


Those who have made the greatest impact are the authors who also love food and everything food-centric, and are authentic, interesting and without the ego that generally accompanies celebrity. A few at the top of the list include Kim Kushner (The Modern Menu and The New Kosher), Kristine Kidd, former editor of Bon Appétit Magazine and icon in the culinary world (Weeknight Fresh & Fast, Weeknight Gluten-Free, Gluten-Free Baking), Sara Kate Gillingham (Good Food to Share) who is the founder of my favorite food blog, The Kitchn, James Oseland, former Editor-in-chief of SAVEUR, now the editor of Organic Life (The Way We Cook), Anna Getty (Easy, Green Organic) and well, there are just too many to name.


Because I have so many cookbook authors in my client portfolio, I am often asked (probably once or twice a week!) if I have any examples of a good cookbook proposal. Well, I do, but unfortunately, those are not mine to share. So, when I saw this blog post by the inimitable Heidi Swanson (with whom I would love to work with one day), on her blog, 101 Cookbooks, I was very excited. She wrote this for all those aspiring cookbook authors who need some guidance to craft their book proposal. Heidi shares the brilliant proposal she did for her upcoming cookbook, Near & Far, as an example. It’s a wonderful and enlightening post. Needless to say, I will be buying that book too!


I encourage all those who love to cook and would like to someday be published to read Heidi’s post and garner her sage advice. After all, the proposal is one of the most important tools you’ll need to land that great publishing contract. And like they say, you never get a second chance to make a great first impression. Take it from Heidi. She knows how to make an amazing impression. Follow her advice and maybe perhaps, one day, I can be a part of your success as a cookbook author too.


Click HERE to read: Writing a Cookbook Proposal By Heidi Swanson April 2015



A Defense of Publicists

This article caught my eye on PRDaily. It seems that every week, someone is asking me what a publicist does. My short answer is “a publicist is a connector.” I say this because after 20 years as a book publicist, I find that I do so much more than just pitching or writing press releases. Naturally, my goal is to maximize the visibility of my clients and their books, but I spend a great deal of my time connecting likeminded people. Just as Rebekah Polster says in this article, it’s not enough to be able to write a good press release. It’s about building solid relationships with people; being authentic and reliable; constantly putting yourself out there as a great resource. I often reach out to reporters, freelancers and editors to simply remind them that I am here for them as a resource if they need one. And I make that call without pitching anything at all! The more I’m connecting (and re-connecting) on a genuine and personal level, the better it is for my authors and clients. Read on and remember to reach out… in a meaningful way.

By Rebekah Polster | Posted on @PRDaily April 7, 2015
Recently I sat across from some restaurant “publicists” at a dinner. As I listened to them and fed them ideas for promoting their client, I was amazed and a little appalled at their lack of understanding.I asked myself, “Does anyone think they can write a release, get it out on PR Newswire and call themselves a publicist?” It occurred to me why my industry has such a lack of empathy from the world: People who don’t put in the effort expect a grand pay off. Is that a millennial thing? Naiveté? Idiocy?
When people ask what I do, I say public relations for alcohol. I’m sure many think I just drink all day and tinker around. OK, sometimes. But in all seriousness, I consider myself a fantastic publicist, and yes, I say publicist. I’m not ashamed. For those naysayers out there, it’s considered one of the hardest jobs in the U.S.Public relations is about perception. It’s all about how one perceives the topic of conversation and approaches the situation that enables a publicist to “sell” a product.  Wikipedia defines a publicist as“a person whose job it is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, especially a celebrity, a business, or for a work such as a book, film or album.”Add products or brands to the list and the definition still holds true. The essence of public relations is media and relationships, or, what a publicist does: knowing the people writing the stories and getting the word out. As the daughter of a journalist, I saw from an early age the influence of PR. It’s the job of the publicist to derive perception. Without that, brands get lost in the shuffle.

Speaking of writers, it’s the relationships that make the profession. I value my conversations and experiences with writers, especially those who write about booze. It’s a common ground for us, and we see eye-to-eye (depending on who I’m representing, of course). I value their writing and their opinions, and they trust our relationship enough to give me honest feedback. I want to stress the word: relationships. Without these relationships with writers, you are not a publicist.

In the days of yore, PR for consumer products was about packaging a brand in a nice, pretty bow and shipping it off to reporters, in hopes that they would relay the message points correctly to their readers. Today, it’s the same way, just integrated with social media, advertising, creative, research, insights and many other topics. This is a necessary move.

We are in a digital age that is changing every second, and we need to keep up. But I disagree with those who say public relations is dead. How can it be when relationships are still at the core of business? Publicists understand better than anyone else how to negotiate perception and how to word the brand, whether you’re dishing it out via Facebook or through ad copy. Public relations is about relationships, and you can’t get that by sitting at a desk all day hiding behind a platform.

To those out there who think anyone with a brain can call themselves a publicist, I ask you: name five journalists you can call up right now and have a pleasant conversation with while pitching the latest product. I dare you.


Rebekah Polster is an account supervisor at PadillaCRT’s New York office. A version of this article originally appeared on the Buzz Bin blogThank you to Rebekah Polster for letting me share this great post with my readers.

Here’s another great article about building relationships with journalists.

What’s In My Bag? A Book Publicist Reveals All

whats in my bag FINAL

Not everyone knows what a book publicist does. As you can imagine, most of our days are filled with pitching our clients to the media, but we also have to go on book tours with our authors. So, what would a book publicist need when out on the road with an author? Look inside my bag to find out…


Sharpies. In just about every color and point size, because you never know what your author wants to use. Oh, and chances are, the Sharpie that you’ve brought isn’t the one he wants.

One stunningly beautiful, upscale fountain pen. Because she will only use this type of pen to sign her books.

Mints and breath spray. Because he has a hangover from the night before. It’s not every day he gets to go to cool bars in New York, you know!

A charming little sterling silver book mark from Tiffany’s. Because she always gets a gift from her publisher after her book tour is over, dontchaknow! And, since she only had nine people show up to her last signing, she needs a little bit of love.

Extra-Strength Aspirin. For me! Because if I have to hear the same excerpt reading one.more.time, I will throw up!

Lots of ones. Because I have to tip pretty much everyone that he insults throughout the day, and Mr. Washington will keep it from getting violent.

Purell. Do you have any idea how many hands an author has to shake during the tour?

Readers. For me and for the author. Trust me, anyone over 40 probably needs them.

Earbuds. So Beyonce, Maroon 5 and Miles Davis can help tune out the reading after the 11th time.

Post-its. To write out, very clearly, all those names that the author can’t spell when people hand him the book, especially the people that spell their name differently from everyone else (“That’s Emily with four E’s and an I.”).

Almonds, protein bars and chocolate. To keep things running smoothly when the blood sugar dips. This whole book signing thing is an energy burner, so always have a plethora of snacks handy!

Smooth stone or lucky coin. When your author is super nervous, it’s always good to hand them something to hold. It keeps them calm for those first time jitters.

Tissues. If it’s a love story or a memoir, chances are, there’s gonna be some tears.

Notepad. My old school go-to: there’s always something you need to jot down and a smart phone doesn’t always do the trick.

Comb. Hello, bedhead?

Hairspray. Hello, flat hair?

Lip gloss. Time to work the camera. Gotta look sexy in all the pictures, right?

Cologne. There will be a lot of hugs throughout the day, and not every book enthusiast smells as immaculate as you do.

Deodorant. Authors DO get nervous before an interview. Always keep ‘em dry!

Press release. For those media “professionals” who accidentally deleted the one you sent them 17 times.

An extra two copies of the book. You never know who’s going to show up!

Tell me what’s in YOUR bag? Enquiring minds want to know! 


What to Do Now That Your Book Has Been Published

yellow typewriter

Congratulations, you’ve been published! This is probably the point where you get the first tangible sense of validation for your efforts. Your book is on Amazon! It’s on the shelves of Barnes & Noble! The cover looks so pretty! What do you do now?

The number one question people will ask after their book has been published is “Why am I not getting any hits?” Well, if you’re feeling at all nostalgic for the long days of hammering away at the keyboard while writing your book, then you can rejoice. There is plenty of writing still to do. The old idiom “Sink or swim” comes to mind. The simple truth is that a continued online presence is the best way to keep your name and your book on the forefront of today’s obsolescently-geared marketplace.

I’ve included five things to keep in mind as you enter the unknown waters of post-publishing.

  1. Make Your Presence Felt. The media operates on a short-term memory. For every week that goes by without your name being attached to something new, it’s that much harder to stay fresh in the minds of your target audience. There are many ways to stay relevant without immediately diving into your next big project (if there is one). Guest blog posts. Columns. Guest articles. Or failing that, frequent posts on your blog.

I recommend to clients that they aim to produce at least two new posts a week. This exponentially increases your potential reach, and the volume allows you the freedom to hit a variety of special interests that are relevant to your book and your field of interest.

  1. Know That You’re the Expert. You have just spent an enormous time on researching and writing your book. You are the relevant authority on the subject when your book is published. That appeal is powerful in attracting media outlets and potential readers alike. The Internet is an open platform, so your credibility as an expert is often the deciding factor fro those deciding which article or column to read, especially in a topic that is saturated with unqualified opinions (like nutrition).

I am not the expert on your topic. You will know the most relevant and engaging topics of your field far better than I ever will. My contributions come in the form of contacts and my abilities as a publicist, not for my expertise in cooking, crocheting, or bicycles (or whatever your field may be). Media outlets will expect you to do the heavy lifting. Which leads me to…

  1. Deliver The Content. The media landscape has definitely changed in the recent decade. It used to be that we could pitch your story to various media outlets, and someone would write a story about you, your knowledge, and ultimately your book. Now, you have to get over the awkwardness of self-promotion, assume the title of expert, and do all the writing for them. This will be on a topic that you can write intelligently about, not on yourself, but a short bio at the end and a plug for (and link to) your book will do that work for you. Your focus is on presenting a polished, edited product that can be quickly turned over into a featured post.

Content is king in media, and if you can immediately offer an outlet a finished version of their most precious commodity, that will be a huge advantage in getting your name out there.

  1. Know What the Media Wants. You have the expertise, and you’ve written the meat of your content. Now you have to know how to dress it. There are several ways that you can style your posts that will make it a lot friendlier to the uninformed reader, and in turn a lot more attractive to online publications. Most of these methods are designed to present abstract or complex concepts in a way that is immediately digestible. They also have the benefit of sucking a reader in during that one crucial second of scanning the piece before deciding whether they actually want to take the time to read the article or hit the back button. Here are the four most request formats by media outlets.
  • Solutions. This format hinges on your credibility as an expert in your field. Not only does it present your content or view as the best way to do something, but it introduces it as being relevant to some universal problem. This open-ended format also reaches a wide audience beyond the regular visitors of the hosting site; people will frequently search for these solutions.

(Example: Best Ways to Cook Your Veggies for the Most Nutrition)

  • Problem/Answer. This is another format that flaunts your label of expert. Although slightly redundant in the presentation of its content, this style has the added benefit of casting a wider net by attracting people who are not only interested in your methodology or school of thought, but also people who currently subscribe to the paradigm that you are contradicting or replacing. If someone claims to have a problem with poaching eggs a certain way, here’s a chance to reach people and inform them of your (far superior) way of poaching eggs.

(Example: Sleep Training for Babies: Why it doesn’t work, and what does)

  • Recipes with context. People love a story. They want to feel attached or motivated by the background of a product. How many times has your friend gone on about that one bar where the chairs are made from old wine barrels and the tablecloths are actually reclaimed fabric from a 1920s circus tent (or something like that)? Tying in a personal flair to your recipe can lend authenticity and credibility to your piece. (Example: My love of Italian food and my Braciole recipe)
  • Lists, lists, and lists. The crowning achievement of the 21st century, lists are the go to format when accessibility is the name of the game. Pretty self-explanatory, but do make sure that the titles of your bullets can be understood as answers to the question posed by the article title without the reader actually having to read the entire text (sort of like the list you’re reading now).

(Example: Five Reasons Why Yoga is a Must for Entrepreneurs)

  1. Build Your Cache. Always be writing more pieces to have your in your back pocket. Even if media outlets aren’t biting at what has been pitched so far, keep building up a base of articles that can be ready to go at any time. There’s also the chance that someone will be interested in a series of posts, and you can always post them to your own blog. You never know when a publication will have an immediate hole that needs to be filled, and you’ll need a completely finished product to give them right away.

Andrea Burnett has been a lifestyle publicist in the San Francisco/Bay Area for over 20 years.  She specializes in food, parenting, children’s, eco/green living, health & wellness and women’s general interest publicity.  She’s proud to have spearheaded campaigns and product launches for some of the top brands in the U.S.  You can find her on twitter @aburnettpr  and facebook .




PR Jargon and Why I Hate It

HATE is a strong word. To this day, my mom doesn’t allow me to say the word in front of her. But it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say, “I really dislike PR jargon,” because I really do hate it.

It’s funny, because I have been a publicist for 20 years and you’d think that by now I’d be waving my PR jargon flag high and freely. But I cringe when PR pros say “ping,” that they’ll “circle back,” or when a business is described as “providing solutions.” This tells me nothing about the business they’re promoting. After all, don’t we all try to provide a solution?

A UK PR firm, twelvethirtyeight recently compiled this list of the top 20 most hated buzzwords in PR (phrases in parentheses are an attempt to define the meaning or put it in perspective):

1. Issues (problems)

2. Dynamic (likely not to be)

3. Paradigm (a “silk purse” word)

4. Elite (you wouldn’t normally get to attend)

5. Hotly anticipated (never heard of it)

6. End-user (customer)

7. Influencer (a person who probably doesn’t have influence)

8. Evangelist (a tendency to tweet with loads of hashtags)

9. Deliverables (tasks)

10. Icon/iconic (use before 01.01.01 or never)

11. Rocketed (made modest progress)

12. “An astonishing x per cent” (it rarely is astonishing)

13. Marquee event/marquee client (probably “very local”)

14. Going forward (in the future)

15. Ongoing (a bit behind schedule)

16. Optimized (changed by consultants then changed back)

17. Horizontal, vertical, etc. (two words in lieu of a strategy)

18. Phygital (easy to press or swipe, we guess)

19. SoLoMo (no idea)

20. Well-positioned (hopeful but a bit scared)

I was so relived to read that I wasn’t alone in my hatred. It’s bad enough to hear my 8-year-old daughters use the Valley Girl words and phrases so popular in today’s culture — you know the ones: “like,” “I’m all,” “you know,” and “totally.”  I remember when I was 16 and I used the word “basically” before every sentence — my parents would say it back to me sarcastically over and over until I finally stopped using it. It worked. The more they did this, the more I realized how ridiculous I sounded when I said it. I only wish we could do the same with PR professionals when they use jargon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do to mock a colleague by mimicking them in snarky tones — after all, it’s not exactly good PR. But, maybe it’s time to use the very tools of our trade to get the anti-jargon revolution started. We can start our own #antijargon Twitter campaign, start a Facebook page that extols the use of simple and effective language, have parades with banners flying high with the words, “Truth In, Jargon Out!” Or maybe we can just agree to start saying what we mean, directly, and to the point. It would better serve our profession and our clients, and also save us from all of the extra wrinkle-lines produced by constant cringing.

5 Tips for Perfecting Your Pitch


PR professional, Katie Huffaker wrote this for PR Daily (a blog I read regularly) and I thought it was worth sharing. Even as a seasoned publicist, sometimes it’s good to be reminded of these tips.  It takes a lot of time and effort to build a great pitch. A good publicist never spams a story pitch to multiple outlets. Sometimes we can spend an entire day honing the perfect story or segment idea — crafting the most polished, relevant and well-written pitches we can for you. In addition, there’s a lot of reconnaissance involved in what we do. We’ll scour their publication to make sure they have not already printed the same/similar story. We’ll do thorough research to make sure that our pitches for you are relevant and timely. But one thing we cannot do is force the media to write the story. We’ll give them all the tools they need, but no matter how brilliant the pitch may be, it is out of our control.  Just a little food for thought. Enjoy Katie’s article and please share your favorite pr tips with me.



5 tips for perfecting your pitch


By Katie Huffaker


Media pitches are the foundation of good public relations.  It’s crucial that public relations professionals create pitches that are newsworthy and compelling. How you pitch a story matters, from start to finish. The details matter.  Make sure to implement these five components in your pitching routine:

1. Relevance, relevance, relevance. 

The success of a pitch relies heavily on how relevant the content is that you’re sending to a journalist. That begins with creating a targeted media distribution list to make sure who you’re pitching to is the right fit. You wouldn’t send a story about the health care field to a journalist who writes sports stories. It’s imperative that you do your research around what types of stories a journalist usually covers so you’ll be able to write compelling news hooks.

2. Be diligent.

Journalists receive more pitches per day than they can process. They have busy schedules. If you want your story to be published, it has to be easily understandable and thorough. Your facts should be concise, correct and well written. Mistakes are unacceptable.

3. Craft compelling email subject lines.

This is your first impression, after all. What you choose as your subject line could make or break your pitch. Make it short but informative. Reporters be more inclined to learn more if they see subjects worth reading, or better yet, that are tailored specifically to them.

 4. Provide suggestions.

This includes, but is definitely not limited to providing suggested talking points (usually for interviews), photo opportunities, and so forth. This step may not seem necessary for some reporters, but it does show you’re thinking ahead and contributing even further to the story idea.

5. Be personable.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure to personalize your messages and cater to what the reporter will want to know. Don’t just send the same automated message out to everyone and expect to grab that journalist’s attention. Reporters will definitely know when they get a form letter.

A couple of ways to customize the message are: using the journalist’s name and writing a quick message devoted just to them. You may even include how your story would be a fit for their publication or beat. Making that extra step to personalize your messaging is well worth the time and effort. It’s a win-win for both the media and for you, because there’s a possibility to build rapport and cultivate valuable relationships for future opportunities.

If you include these components in your daily pitching routine, you’ll increase your chances of winning the attention of the media and score successful placements for your client.

Katie Huffaker is an account coordinator at Intermark Group. A version of this article originally appeared on the firm’s blog. You can reach her on twitter @kahuffaker .


You’ve Been Reviewed!


By Elisabeth Monaghan

You’ve got a publishing date for your new book. This book, your baby, which has taken so much time, caused you angst and sleepless moments, finally will make its debut. But to give it credibility and to help market your book, you need reviews. There are a number of services you can pay to review your book, and there are the reviews you solicit from friends, relatives, acquaintances, and anyone you can convince to read and review the book. And there are the reviews that come unsolicited. Those are the reviews on which I’m focusing here.

What an exhilarating feeling to see you’ve received a new review from someone you didn’t ask to read the book! Until you read the review and realize it pans your book. Ouch! Rather than search desperately to figure out how to delete a negative review, recognize the validity of the person expressing his or her dislike for your words. If you see a negative review on Amazon, or any site that allows comments, do not panic. Instead, read the review thoroughly. Ask someone close to you to read the review, too. Take a step back from the comments and ask yourself, “What is the best way to address this?” And then, with a cool head, respond to the comment. Rather than saying something like, “Gee, Ms. Doe, you are an incredibly short-sighted jerk. Clearly you didn’t understand the message in my book,” you might instead say something like, “Hi, Ms. Doe, it’s a shame you found my words (recipes, poems, etc.) be cliché . I sincerely appreciate you reading my book and then taking time to review it.” You’re not apologizing. You’re not admonishing. You’re merely acknowledging you heard the negative comment, and you respect the reviewer’s time she took to post it.  Keep in mind that no matter how personal the review might seem, you should not take it personally. There are those people, who simply like to shred others. They’re miserable people, and most of us recognize them for that when we come upon their opinions.


You cannot expect every review to be full of praise. Take the extremely negative comments as input from someone who isn’t likely in your target demographic. Consider the more constructive criticism as input for your next book. Do not discount or insult the reviewer. Do not be defensive, or angry, but don’t put yourself down, either.  It’s important you stay in touch with the reviews people are writing about your work and that you respond to them. It shows that you’re authentic, and it gives your readers contact with the person behind the book.


When you receive positive or neutral reviews, respond to these as well. It’s much easier to say thank you to great comments than it is to negatives ones, but it’s equally important. It also gives you the opportunity to ask positive those reviewers to kindly spread the word to others about your book.


Elisabeth Monaghan has more than 25 years as a publicist, using both her left and right brain for spiritual, inspirational and self-help authors, along with clients in the homebuilding and real estate industries. You can find her on twitter @HauteFlash.




Does Publicity Matter?

You’ve heard the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same goes for books. There are over 292,014 (new titles and editions) books published each year. So, if you aren’t telling anyone about your book, nobody is going to buy it.

Yes, you may have a huge network of friends and family who will embrace, promote and (hopefully) purchase your book, but believe me, sales will be lackluster at best if you don’t do any publicity for it.

Should you hire a publicist? Well, I’d be out of business if I said no, do it yourself. But here’s what you MUST do before you even think of hiring a publicist:

Build Your Platform – Create a professional looking website.  Nothing worse to the media than an unattractive website with no book information and no way to contact the author. Here’s a great article about the subject from The Writing Platform:

Get Yourself on Social Media – Nothing less than Facebook and twitter will do. And if you have a book that’s visually engaging, be sure to get active on Pinterest and Instagram too. There are tons of great tutorials and resources to teach you how to do this. Once you’re on twitter and FB, be sure to start following and liking reviewers, like-minded authors and influencers in your respective category.

Stay Focused – No need to start tweeting about sci-fi writers if you write about Food. No need to start liking late night comedy show hosts if you write about Parenting. I think you get what I’m saying here. Stay focused and write about topics within your genre. If you tweet links to interesting articles that are about your genre with a hash tag (#cooking, #sci-fi, #fantasy, #fiction, etc.) then others may start to follow you and think you have something interesting to say.

Make sure you engage your followers. Don’t just tweet at folks. Mention someone who has tweeted or blogged about something thought-provoking. Comment, retweet, say thank you.

Write. Write. Write. – Just because you wrote a book, doesn’t mean you’re done writing. Prepare a portfolio of about 5-10 (750-100 word) bylined articles with different hooks/angles that you can use to pitch to editors of magazines, websites and blogs.  Do this a lot and more consumers and editors will start recognizing your work. If you work with a professional book publicist, they’ll love you for having these at-the-ready before, during and after your book launch. We use these articles to pitch you and your book all day long!

Make sure that you write pieces that tie into the themes of your book – so if it’s about food – a piece about shopping for great ingredients on a budget. Maybe another is a piece about gathering around the table, and another is about the origins of a certain family recipe, or how to prepare food while honoring someone’s dietary restrictions… In other words, whatever you write, have it tie to the things you know and care about.

Watch and Learn – What are bestselling authors doing in your category? Know your competition and see what they’re doing to get noticed. Who is writing about them? Connect with that editor/reporter and start a conversation.

Think Off the Book Page – Most authors think only about getting reviews. However the review and book pages at national magazines are almost obsolete (not enough advertising dollars to support them). You need to think of ways to get yourself and your book mentioned off the review page and into other sections. If you write about romance, think of a great article you could contribute to a dating site or a lifestyle publication (e.g. tips, techniques, ways to spice up your date night after 50 years of marriage, etc). Your book title and content can be creatively folded into the content of the article and you can include a link to the book page on amazon or your own website.

Make sure you are involved in your community   Whether this is your online or physical community, your participation is one more way to gain visibility as an author. Find something about which you are passionate. This could be an event, an organization, a topic, a blog….. The point is your participation gives you another way to reach prospective readers, and it will help gain entry to media outlets, online and community influencers and countless others, who could be great connections for you.

Whether you are self-publishing your book or publishing through a big publishing house, you will need to do the work. And keep in mind that even though hiring a publicist may seem like a big expense, what you’re paying for is our relationships, connections, knowledge of the marketplace and ideas. After all, aren’t you worth it?

I offer a great pr package for new and self-published authors. Please contact me if you’re interested in learning more.