As an author, getting publicity for your books is crucial. There are literally millions and millions of books and authors out there, and no one can read your book if they don’t know it exists!
When it comes to getting word out about your books, every newspaper is important, no matter how small. I haven’t done the best job of recognizing all of the media outlets that have featured my books in the past, but I want to point out a couple reasons why hometown press is so, so important.
A Hometown Interview
When my first book, Hawkeye Greats By the Numbers, was released, I had a hard time getting newspapers to carry a story about it. Because my co-author Lyle Hammes and I were both debut authors, the book initially drew little interest from the biggest newspapers in Iowa, including the state’s largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register.
Although major newspapers wouldn’t give me the time of day, I soon realized the power of the hometown press. While visiting my parents over Thanksgiving 2010, I found myself in Grinnell with some free time on my hands. Someone suggested that I go to one of the local newspaper offices and mention that I had just released a book.
The Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican is a small, weekly newspaper that features news from the nearby town of Montezuma, Iowa; however, their newspaper offices are located in Grinnell. I went into the Chronicle Republican offices and was met by reporter J.O. Parker. Parker did an interview with me on the spot, asking me questions about how Hawkeye Greats came into being and some of my favorite aspects of the book.
On December 1, 2010, an article on Hawkeye Greats appeared in the Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican. It was a very nice and well-done article. I know it made my mom happy to see a story about one of my books in the local paper, but I pretty much figured that would be the extent of it.
A Major Breakthrough
Leave it to my mom to deliver some breaking news. The following Sunday started off as any regular day. Early that afternoon, I received a call from my mother. “Say, did you know a story on your book is in the Des Moines Register today?” she asked. I confessed that I was completely unaware of it.
The Register is owned by a media conglomerate, Gannett Company. Apparently, Gannett has an arrangement with the Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican, where they can pick up interesting stories in the Chronicle Republican for publication in the Register…and that’s exactly what happened. The Register had completely ignored my attempts to get them to publish a story about my book, but when they saw the story already written in the Chronicle Republican, they liked it and decided to run it in the Metro section of their December 5, 2010, edition.
I soon received another call…this time from Hammes. Traffic on the book’s website and, yes, sales of the book had spiked through the roof. It had all of the impact I expected a mention in the Register to have. And it all came about because a small local newspaper decided to write a story about me. I’ll say it again…don’t underestimate hometown press!
More Hometown Press
Another benefit of smaller newspapers is that they can give your story the time and care that a larger newspaper can’t or won’t. My latest book, Duke Slater, tells the story of an African-American sports pioneer, a story that is very, very important to me. Unfortunately, it’s a story that many of the major newspapers in the state haven’t found important enough to cover.
That’s where hometown press can play an important role. As you can see from my bio page, I’m originally from the Lynnville-Sully area in central Iowa. When I was growing up, the newspaper of record in this area was the Diamond Trail News, which, for whatever reason, never seemed to give my books the time of day. However, a few years ago, a new newspaper sprang up, named – appropriately – Hometown Press. This new paper – and the poor management of those running the DTN – quickly ran the old Diamond Trail News right out of business.
Thankfully, Hometown Press has been much more receptive to covering my writing career. In their September 6, 2012, edition, Hometown Press published a full page story written by Faye Brand about my latest book on Duke Slater. I have had stories published in several large and small newspapers, but this one may have been my favorite…it was very well-written and more detailed than most others like it. The article delivered in a way that really only hometown press can do.
The article introduced my writing career to several people back in my old home town, and a few of them even bought the book (which I always greatly appreciate!) But more importantly, it got Slater’s story out to a small corner of the world. That’s the whole point of writing books – to get the word out about something, bit by bit. And as the story above shows, you never know when that small trickle of interest could suddenly become a flood…and it often happens when you least expect it.
That’s what’s on this writer’s mind for today. Thanks for reading!
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