Securing a review of one’s book in a big international newspaper is the dream of most authors. A New York Times review is often regarded as the ultimate validation of an author’s book. Landing a review there, or in one of the other iconic newspapers such as the London Times Literary Supplement or the Guardian seems to be beyond the reach of a new author yet these things do happen. Rare but not unheard of. With one of these big papers, there is not much more that one can do other than send in your book in the format required and hope for the best. It may be a million-to-one shot but it’s only going to cost you the price of a book and the postage. Better odds certainly than the lottery.
With smaller newspapers, especially the local press, the approach has to be completely different. A local newspaper exists to report local news so a local author doing something special is going to be much more of interest here. Although, please remember, they are not there to act as free advertising for you. These papers exist by selling adverts and they are quite clever at spotting people trying to trick them into running free advertising copy. ‘Author Publishes Book’ is not, and never will be, a news item. Unless of course your name is Stephen King and you’re conducting your book launch in the local burger bar.
First, choose your paper then identify a contact. This is where the approach is different to that used when approaching an International. A local paper is staffed by local people, there will be an assumption that you should know the names of the people who work there if you desire to contact them and it is not difficult to find out this information.
Once you have tracked down the person responsible for book reviews you now need to craft your approach. Do not just send a copy of your book with a note telling them how wonderful it is. That is a fast way to the circular filing cabinet. Relate your book locally and combine it with something newsworthy. ‘I am a local author, having grown up here, and my new book, a spy thriller, is set here during the war. I am giving a talk to the veteran’s association about some of the more interesting events from this time which I uncovered during my research’.
Now we have a local interest and an event.
When you secure your local review, remember to ask permission to use it in your own marketing activities, this way, you can leverage the result to boost global attention.