Friday, 2 July 2010

THE HOOK - How to get that media coverage.

If you’ve recently been bored enough to read my posts below, you will have heard me banging on about the ‘hook’.

No, not Abu Hamza, but the most important thing that is going to get you in the papers or on the radio. The trick that is going to give those with power over the column inches a reason to shout about you and your book.

Because let’s face it, the fact that you’ve written a book is not big news. Certainly, it is to you and your mum and the nice old lady who lives next door, but The Daily Telegraph are not massively interested that Barry Boothroyd of Hebden Bridge has just written a novel. Sorry, Barry.

So we need to find a ‘hook’. A reason for the the journalists or broadcasters to expose their punters to your news. This could be as simple as the content – The Button Collectors Weekly will probably be quite excited if your novel revolves around the murder of a man who collects buttons. Sadly, this won’t be quite enough to get Cosmopolitan Magazine giving up a feature page.

Firstly, you need to make your all-important list of those who you intend targeting. Some of these will be local press. Generally, unless you live in Manhattan or similar, then your local papers will be thrilled to give a local lass or lad a bit of a boost. So your hook to them is merely geographical. Play on it – tell them where you went to school, any local positions you hold (School Governor etc), how far back your family tree goes in the area etc. If the novel is set in the region, all the better.

Now we start to look at the bigger papers. Let us use Barry and his meisterwerk The Button Bludgeoner as an example.

Barry is forty-three and is on the dole. His wife left him a few years back, leaving him in sole custody of their four-year old twins, Betty and Bonny. Barry has been a busy boy and has managed to write, edit and sell his novel to a small publisher.

His readership will be mainly male, in their 30’s – 50’s, though as a thriller it holds interest for women as well. His work is best described as a cross between Dan Brown and James Patterson. Or at least, he’d like to think so.

Right. We’ve already covered the special interest periodicals. The Button Collectors Weekly are thrilled and have given up a full page. The Zips and Fastenings Times are equally on board.

Local press have taken him up and due to guts and persistence, he’s won himself a slot on the local radio station.

We now need to get him into the nationals. The hook? For me, it’s an obvious one. “Jilted man writes his way to a better life for his kids…”

Alright – Barry’s not going to be too pleased about that one, but sob stories sell. It’s a potential rags to riches tale and it will interest the masses. Furthermore – it’s useable in both the lads mags (Boy done good) and the female journals (Aww… twin girls, single daddy).

You might not have such a direct personal story to sell, but try to stand back from your situation, look at who you are and why others might be interested in you.

Some suggested angles to look at: your educational background, any specialist settings, careers or vocations covered in the book, your history (are you an ex-nun that’s just written a bodice ripper? Great! We can sell that!) Your family’s history (Dad was a miner and you’ve written a book set in the mining industry?) Personal experience (ex-gambling addict writes about Vegas) – you would be surprised how many little details can be polished and preened and made into newsworthy stories.

206,000 books were published in the UK in 2005. (That was the most up to date figure I could find.) What makes your publishing news different?

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