In the big wide world, local media is like your mom, always rooting for you no matter what you do. However, the coverage you receive from local media isn’t cast aside like your mother’s opinion of your book.
Instead, folks in the community want to support you and check you out. Sure, the New York Times isn’t going to pick you up because your hometown newspaper did, but people who read the New York Times are more likely to ignore you. They don’t care about you. They have no connection to you. The thing that is selling Times readers is solely your book. Hopefully that’s enough, but with local media, you can sell yourself just as much as your book.
People in your hometown have a connection with you: you’re from the same place. The fact that you put out a book—something people associate with intelligence and diligence, and reserved for the “select few” in society who actually write one—tells fellow hometowners that even though they may live in the middle of nowhere (or in a sea of people—“Who’s going to notice me?”) they too can put out a book.
Hometown newspapers love these stories because it promotes local authors, but also the community. It shows that things can be accomplished in a small town that might not have everything.
I’m from Batavia, NY, a small city between two mid-sized cities Buffalo and Rochester. While I certainly find value in the place I call home, the general sentiment for my city is that nothing is really happening here (that’s a local problem that requires a whole series of posts dedicated to fellow Batavians to explain—although any other small town likely faces the same challenges).
My first novel, The Blood Moon, came out at the beginning of August. I sold a decent amount, mostly to friends and family. Overall, I was satisfied with my results. However, the evil word kept creeping into my mind: obscurity. I only sold my book to friends and family because I really only announced it to friends and family on my personal Facebook page (I also announced it on my author social media pages which likely resulted in a few sales, but that’s not my focus for this post).
My aunt works for The Daily News in Batavia and gave me the number of a reporter who was interested in writing a story about me and my book. Obviously, I immediately called her and set up a time to meet. Being that it was my introduction to my community, I talked mostly about my writing career and my decision to self-publish, not a lot about my book. The best part was that the reporter gave me her card and told me to contact her when my next book comes out for further coverage.
The weekend edition of The Daily News (last weekend, actually) featured my article. Naturally, I share it all over my social media pages and the story generated plenty of traffic to my pages and my website (which I made sure to mention in my interview). The article was shared many times, both physically and digitally, and I ended up selling five copies and got two mailing list sign-ups.
That might not sound like a lot, but for the placement I had in the paper (buried inside the lifestyles page), I’d say that was pretty good. In fact, a few days later I received a phone call from a woman who wanted to buy two physical copies. One for her and one for her son in Washington.
The response I got locally from the article inspired me to get focused on contacting other media outlets in the area: online newspapers, newspapers in nearby Buffalo and Rochester, magazines in Buffalo and Rochester, etc. We’ll see what comes from my queries, but I know that The Daily News here in Batavia will always make room for me and my books. As my success grows (hopefully, let’s not get too carried away here, David…), local media outlets may even be contacting me about running a story.
The first step you need to do is make that initial call. Of course I was nervous about calling the reporter, but I’m so glad I did. Play it from a local author angle. If you’re young, even better. I’m 24, so the fact that a young local author put out a book by himself is inspiring for the community. Even better, people may have even bought my book even if it wasn’t their favorite genre simply because we call the same city home. Everyone loves to support local. Why should authors be any different?