Why Authors Should Pitch to Small Media Outlets
If you are a first-time Christian indie author, don’t overlook the small marketing opportunities. There are many reasons why authors should pitch to small media outlets. I’m talking about that little radio show or podcast without millions of listeners. That public access TV show you’ve flipped past a thousand times. That little community newspaper. They’re the ‘little guy’. And who I’m talking to is you.
Listen, I’ve worked on over 300 literary publicity campaigns as a publicist over the last decade and sold a decent number of books as an agent. And I’m not sure I’ve ever worked with an author who didn’t think they and their book were ready for prime time. But I can tell you this—I’ve worked with an awful lot who weren’t. They made the mistake of focusing solely on the big media targets. Swinging for the fences.
And they waited.
For phone calls and emails and media bookings that never came.
You see, there’s a method to this media madness. A formula that works. And it all starts with smaller outlets that you, as an independent author, absolutely should not fly over.
Allow me to explain. There are three reasons (well, actually there are many more than three, but for space and attention span, we’ll focus on just three) that you, as a self-published author, should start with smaller media.
1. Seasoning and fine-tuning.
You don’t want your first media appearance to be your biggest media appearance. I promise you; you don’t. Why? Because it won’t be your best. How many times have you taken a selfie and used the first photo you took? Never, I bet (unless you’re less vain than the rest of us). You take several (or 20) until you find one you’re happy with. You figure out what your best angle is. But it takes time. It’s no different with media. Before you put yourself out there for all the world to see, you want to figure out your best angle. The best approach to the topic you want to cover. You’ll want to figure out the difference between having a 10-minute conversation and an hour-long conversation. How to communicate your key points in both formats. And you’re undoubtedly going to be asked questions you weren’t expecting. How will you handle those? What I’m trying to say is that you need practice. Seasoning. Smaller outlets can give you that. They can allow you an opportunity to fine tune your message. This just makes sense. Many of you are CEOs, VPs of Marketing, or Development. Leaders. Would you deliver that key presentation to members of your board without first presenting it to a smaller group or rehearsing it for your husband or wife? Of course not. Why would presenting a message to thousands of people via radio, podcast, or television be any different?
Smaller outlets have audiences online, too. Maybe not millions or hundreds of thousands. Maybe not even tens of thousands. But remember that often, it’s quality over quantity. Particularly where podcasts or niche trade outlets are concerned. You’re much better off spending 15 minutes with an outlet whose 5,000 viewers/listeners/readers are a bullseye for you than you are on an outlet who may have 100,000 viewers/listeners/readers—but only 1,000 of whom are going to be interested or loyal enough to find you online and/or make a purchase. Podcast subscribers and the audiences of these niche outlets are very loyal. A recommendation from their favorite podcast host or Instagram influencer goes a long way. Links to your interviews with these smaller outlets also provide great social media content for you and a way to generate and sustain some momentum—staying power.
3. Clips, social proof.
And finally, links to the interviews you’ve done with smaller outlets, or your local media are the bait you put on your hook when you’re ready to reel in the big one. Big, national shows are going to need to see/hear a clip. And you, having followed my advice, are going to have a few. Yes, once you’ve really nailed one of those smaller interviews, you’ve got the proof a larger outlet needs that you’re not a dud. That you, this self-published, unknown author that’s reached out to them, is an engaging, entertaining, viable interview opportunity. To them, you’re a risk. You don’t have that iconic logo on the spine of your book. You haven’t been vetted by a major publishing house. And they’ve worked for many years to build an audience that trusts them. So, before they unleash you on their audience, they need to know that you’re solid. And not just in what you’re going to be teaching. They need to hear that you’re an engaging conversationalist. So, a link to an interview on a smaller station or podcast can provide them with the proof they need. The very livelihoods of these media personalities depend on it. Ratings for them are everything. They can’t afford to spend precious airtime on interviews that will cause their audience to change the channel.
This all makes sense, right? That’s because it’s common sense.
There are steps to take.
Dues to pay.
But isn’t it encouraging that it’s so eminently doable?
There are, of course, other things that you’ll need. An engaging subject line to an email that will actually land in the inbox of the right person. A set of professionally built press materials. And there are places you can get those things done. But I promise you, if a qualified and credentialed (i.e., someone with the right education, experience, and proof of media viability) author/expert consistently sends relevant information and topical conversational opportunities to the right person at the right time, in a professional and personable manner, bookings will happen.
So, little guy… don’t overlook the little guy. He can pack a powerful punch.
About the Author
Jason Jones is the founder of Jones Literary, a Christian literary agency and PR firm in Nashville, where he works with authors, experts, publishers, and media around the world, including producers and editors at places like Fox News, CBS, ABC, NBC, The Wall St. Journal, Moody Radio, Salem, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today and hundreds of other faith-based media outlets. He has led campaigns for over 300 books, including eleven New York Times bestsellers. He is also the founder of Local PR Toolkit—a suite of tools and products that equips and trains self-published authors to serve as their own publicists—as well as the author of ‘Landing Local Media: An Actionable Guide to Help Self-Published Authors Book Local Press’ (2020) and host of ‘The Book Publicist Podcast’.