This is the fourth in my latest Tuesday Tips series, this time on media training for authors. You can read the first installment about why media is important, and the second installment describes traditional vs “modern” media. Last week’s Tuesday Tips covered targeting your media. Today we’re talking pitch-craft.
Son-of-a-Pitch & Beating Fear
You’ve targeted your media and have a hit-list (from last week’s Tuesday Tips). Even writers used to the query have a hard time with this part of the job. Basically, you become a salesman.
I hear the ARGGGG! that swells from your throat, the wide eyes and gasps for breath when that “fight or flight” mechanism kicks in at the mere thought. Gird your loins with sparkles, kiddos, you will slay that fear-dragon. Just think of ‘em in their underwear–wait, don’t, unless you’re my friend Jenny Hansen channeling panty-gate.
Pitches to media typically come by phone, email or faxes. You don’t have to wear makeup, brush your teeth or wear clothes (although I don’t advise admitting to any of those). Since it’s not face-to-face, you can practice. Most of the folks reading this are writers–so write a script.
CAUTION: Pitch one by one on your hit parade. Media can be funny about wanting the first/scoop/best story. Turn around is quick so you won’t be in limbo for months on end as with some (*agents* cough-cough-cough) in the biz. It’s especially intriguing for media to have a date/event associated with your pitch–it also gets ‘em off the pot
We Have Contact
Check your hit list for a preferred method of contact. It used to be the fax was king. I understand from some of my media cronies that the fax machine now has the circular file situated directly underneath. Many, if not all, fax queries won’t be read unless a bored reporter happens to need reading material during a potty break.
Cold calls work but take practice. Think logline or “elevator pitch” that sold your book to that editor or agent. Learn more about the logline at Kristen Lamb’s excellent blog. Why so short? Because media thinks in terms of soundbites and reporters have the attention span of a gerbil on crack. In a phone pitch you’re lucky to have 30 seconds to wow ‘em.
Remember that if you get voice mail they’ll likely delete 10 seconds into your message if you’ve not grabbed them by the tender spots (their BRAINS, what did you think I meant?). Oh, and have your email with more details ready to “send” as soon as they ask.
Email can be less filled with frazzle-icicty. Think “query letter.” No attachments. Just like agents and editors out there, if it comes with an attachment either spam will filter it out or they’ll burn rubber hitting the delete.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Beverages are NOT your friend--except to celebrate after the successful pitch."
The fear-dragon is your friend! Channel that energy.
Think in headlines/soundbites. Your subject line must intrigue or they’ll delete without reading. Pressure? You betcha! So how do you get ‘em to open that email?
Make it news. Tie your book, story, event to something worth covering. Partner a book signing to a huge local charity fundraiser, for example. Holidays make great tie ins, but note that media wants to book these well in advance.
For TV, include “visuals.” Will you have cute kittens to model the latest feline wigs?
Keep it simple and catchy, but make it matter. Ask yourself, why should the audience care? Will you make them laugh, cry or both? Will you inspire viewers to act?
With a phone pitch, start with a brief intro (one line–”I’m a pet expert with a new pet dating service” or “I made $3 million last year selling virtual perfume and can show your viewers how to $mell $uccess, too.” You get the idea. *s*
Make sure your email ends with a brief bio, your website, and bullet points that illustrate what you’ll do for the 2-5 minutes while on air. So to recap, your pitch whether by phone or Email should include:
- What’s the visual
- Why audience should care? (free tips from book?)
- Who are you? (author of BOOK, automatically an expert!)
In a phone pitch “no thanks” means no. Thank them and move on.
If they ask for more information, be sure to offer to send the email with a copy of your book (or details about your event, program, cause). DO follow up but no oftener than once a week if you’ve a deadline. DON’T poison the well with pestering if they don’t commit; you’ll want to pitch other books/opportunities down the road. If they put you off a couple of times, move on to your next target.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!