We are big book nerds in the office so, to celebrate World Book Day, we have taken the opportunity to pull together our top tips for getting started on a book publicity campaign. And, in case you’re not sure what great book to read next, we’ve also shared our personal favourites at the bottom of the article.
Viral Seeding’s top tips for building a book campaign:
- Identify the book’s target audience and the media they consume
First things first, you need to identify who the book’s target audience is and what sort of media they consume. If the book is about the life of a famous YouTuber aimed at teens and young adults, there is little point hounding the books editor of Good Housekeeping to include the book in a beach reads round up, your time would be better spent talking to booktubers and the team at online publications like Maximum Pop.
- Identify the USP of the book (and the author!)
The book market is vast, with over 150,000 books published each year in the UK it is crucial to understand what makes this book, and this author, special and unique. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, follows the author as she walks the length of America alone, at 26, in the wake of her mother’s death. Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, was a psychiatrist before she became an author. These USP’s, whether they extraordinary or every day, become the hooks for pitching the book to journalists and bloggers.
- Timing is everything
Newspapers, magazines, radio stations, bloggers and online outlets will all have different lead times, so once you’ve identified the specific individuals you want to pitch to you need to ensure you’re sending books and pitching to them at the right time. There is little point reaching out to the book reviewer at a monthly magazine if the book comes out next week, you need to be in touch with them 3-6 months in advance. Similarly, pitch author interviews to regional radio stations 2-4 weeks beforehand as they don’t tend to plan interview slots months in advance.
- Get your pitch right
Your pitch should embody the ‘elevator pitch’, you have a limited amount of time to convey what is so great about this book and this author as succinctly as possible – ideally in a few sentences. This is where the USPs come in. Craft your pitch around the hooks you’ve identified to really sell the book but ensure you don’t give too much of the story away! Your pitch should be accompanied by a more thorough press release (ideally one or two A4 pages) which provides more information on the book and the author.
- Follow up and wait for the coverage to come in
Anyone that has a work email address will know that, sometimes, our inboxes can get on top of us. A polite follow up email or call, a week or two so after your first email, can work wonders for securing coverage.
Get in touch with Viral Seeding to find out more about how we can help with promotion.
Viral Seeding’s recommended reads:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A family saga of epic proportions the book follows seven generations of the Buendía family in the fictional Latin American town of Macondo. Written in the genre of magical realism, where reality and magical occurrences are treated with the same acceptance, as if fact, the novel offers up some haunting, poignant and beautiful imagery – like the trickle of blood that ‘hugs the walls of the room so as not to stain the rug’, and ‘turns a corner’, to reach another character in a nearby house. The stories of the Buendía family are interwoven with tales of love, tragedy, politics, war and magic, creating a rich, layered and awe-inspiring tapestry of literary wonderfulness (sigh). I am convinced that no one writes more beautifully than Marquez – the perfect book to get lost in.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Kafka’s most famous tale follows the sad fate of Gregor Samsa who goes to bed as a young man and wakes up as a bug. Being a big bug, and now without the use of language or apposable thumbs, Gregor and his family struggle to adjust to his new life and much dark comedy ensues. A fascinating and curious book that led me to become a total Kafka nerd. If you haven’t read it, or have never understood the term ‘Kafkaesque’, then you must pick up The Metamorphosis.
My Struggle Series (6 parts) by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Hailed by The Guardian as ‘perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our times…’ Knausgaard’s My Struggle autobiographical six-part series (or Min Kamp in his native Norwegian) documents six phases of his life with an astounding level of depth. Knausgaard’s aim was to ‘write plainly about his life’ and he achieves exactly this – we’re privy to huge events in his life, like the death of his father and falling in love, to mundane and every day, from preparing dinner or going outside to smoke, to pages and pages on how him and his friend pick up booze and travel to a party. Knausgaard often appears shameless in his honesty and openness, and has been criticised for this, but it is this element that makes the books so brilliant and invites the reader to deeply examine their own life. Addictive, binge worthy reading, I recommend them to everyone I meet. The final instalment comes out in August and I am, literally, counting down the days.
The Comedy Writer by Peter Farrelly
Crude, funny, frustrating and endearing, The Comedy Writer hits all the notes recognizable to any wannabe writer. The story focuses on Henry, an ex-salesman who decides to move to LA to peruse his dream of becoming a screenwriter. Of course it isn’t an easy ride for Henry, as he floats from job to job, meeting with movie executives and inviting a crazy woman to move into his apartment. If you’re a fan of Peter Farrelly’s movies such as Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary then The Comedy Writer will be a very enjoyable read for you.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The first in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go is set in a world where all women have died out and everybody can hear everybody else’s thoughts. The protagonist, Todd, slowly starts to learn the truth about what happened to the women, but his life is changed forever when he meets a girl who has crash landed in her spaceship. It may sound like a goofy premise, but it’s a great novel with a fast-paced story and characters you really root for. Pick the book up before the movie comes out in 2019.
Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine
Ok, this one may not be a current favourite of mine, but it helped to solidify my love of books and introduced me to Goosebumps and writing as a whole. R.L. Stine famously writes a book over a weekend, and the inventive villains and creepy plots really buries into a young readers’ imagination. Night of the Living Dummy spawned numerous sequels over the years, with Slappy the evil Ventriloquist Dummy finding new ways to terrorise kids (and is a not so subtle nod to Chucky the killer doll), and it still holds up to this day. Suspend your disbelief and kill a couple of hours with the master of teenage horror!