Tag Archives: independent bookstores

Grassroots PR: Plant seeds locally, grow nationally

by Sandy Dunwoody, Literary Publicist

Many of the new authors I work with seem to be focused on gaining national news coverage right out of the gate. And, while Oprah would surely be tickled to receive your book (among thousands of others she receives every year), the truth is that most unknown or otherwise un-established authors are often neglected by big-name media outlets. This is becoming even more prevalent due to newspapers closing or shrinking their book review sections (such as the Washington Post earlier last year).

I’m sensing your next logical question: “But how do I become an ‘established’ author?” Lasting credibility and national recognition takes time, effort and hard work. I’ll use a reference from one of my favorite clients, Charles Asher of Simon’s Crossing, and say that it’s akin to fanning a flame into a “small, spreading fire.”

Authors:  Never overlook the benefits of local media coverage. Small-town and community-oriented media outlets are likely to be interested in an author from the area they cover, so your locale automatically adds “newsworthy” appeal. By approaching and networking with local publications, you’re one step closer to reaching a local audience and building a fan base (you want a following at local events, right?).   And, once you score a review or interview, you have that news clip in your portfolio to tout to even bigger outlets.

A little-known fact is that large publications are always scouting for story ideas, and they just might be looking in your local paper. I’ve seen stories in smaller newspapers get picked up by national outlets on more than one occasion. You may have heard the common phrase “media breeds media”—and it’s true! Every opportunity to become noticed is worth pursuing.

So, what are the first steps to get recognized by local outlets and increase credibility? Here are some:

  • Approach a local or independent bookstore or a library about a book signing or author event. You become even more newsworthy to local media if you show that you are involved in the community.
  • Research! Get to know what media covers your local area. This means looking into more than the well-known traditional outlets; look into websites, blogs and community forums. Follow what they are covering, and connect with the outlet and readers through comments.
  • Make sure to attend local events, in addition to your own. Take this chance to network with local personalities and promote your book.

For those of you that have tried grassroots promotion, what’s worked for you and what hasn’t?