In the world of social media and the coveted NYT book review, I urge you not to forget about promoting your book through local media. Not only do Americans get a majority of their news from local sources–TV, newspapers, magazines–but research shows that they trust those sources more than they do national outlets.
Not only is local media an integral part of the lives of people in your community, it’s FREE! Local news almost never charges you for coverage, unless you are specifically taking out an advertisement.
And since most local media is also online and supplemented by social media. You can share your local coverage with the world through your website, social media, and friends’ word of mouth.
Here are a few kinds of local media and what they can do for you:
Most people get their local news from television, so you want to find ways as an author to get a piece of that audience. Contact local TV stations and send them a press release well in advance of a launch even or book signing, and then follow up to see if they will send a news crew to cover it. Not likely, but you never know.
Also, most local TV stations have a local version of Good Morning America or The Today Show, and their producers are hungry for content. I’ve been on Good Day Tulsa on two occasions, one for music with Jam eCono and the other for my travels to Ireland! Usually, they feature locals who have and event near to the time of any on-screen interview, so reach out early to their staffers and follow up to get on their schedule. You can do it too!
Most cities have an NPR affiliate or other local station that is interested in promoting arts and culture. For instance, my local affiliate, KWGS in Tulsa, has a weekly, 30-minute interview show called “Studio Tulsa” on which the host, Rich Fisher, interviews authors and other artists regularly. Such shows are constantly looking for new content, so contact a producer at the station and pitch your book.
I was interviewed on Jan 9, 2020, and you can hear it here. Since the archives are online, this media not only local but international in reach. You can bet that I have been sharing and talking about this link as much as I can!
Newspapers & Magazines
Yes, people still read the news off of paper! And most cities not only have a local newspaper, but they often have a weekly ‘rag’ devoted to arts and culture. Unfortunately, Tulsa just lost it’s only weekly, The Tulsa Voice, but luckily it was subsumed by a local monthly magazine, Tulsa People. Because most of these sources are also online, they are no longer daily, weekly, or monthly but part of the 24-hour news cycle. Take advantage of that!
These local print sources regularly interview writers, feature their events on a calendar, or write reviews of books. Tulsa People / The Voice reporter Mason Whitehorn Powerll interviewed me more than a month before my book out.
Contact editors or assistants through the paper’s website and send them a pitch, along with your one-sheet, sell sheet, advanced information sheet, or press release.
Social Media as Local Media
Sure, social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat is on the internet and therefore is virtually global in its reach. But most of our social media accounts work locally; that is, most of our friends and followers are people who live in our town or close to us. So, in that sense, social media is a local media.
So use social media like Facebook to create calendar event pages for your readings and signings and then to target promotion of those events to people who can actually attend those events in person. If they can’t, you can also broadcast them live! It really easy and intuitive to create these free promotional opportunities, so take advantage of them!
Make the most of local opportunities
Do some research on your local media and get to contacting them. The worst thing they can do is say ‘no,’ but if you don’t hear from them, be persistent and be the squeaky wheel! You can even use this interactive map from the Pew Research Center to see how your community relies on local news to decide how your allocate your time and resources the most effectively.