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Publicity Forum
By Karen Williams Villanueva
July, 2005, 16:53

One sure fire way to promote books is to break sound barriers on radio and TV.
Yes, it's true. Less is more.

Even for me, a publicist who believes in hard copy press kits and detailed information, and who has a stream-of-consciousness gift of the gab that needs harnessing like a race horse on steroids -- sometimes, I admit, less is more.

Case in point, an author I represented, Larry Brown, wrote a travel book called America's Most Charming Towns and Villages. The publisher didn't have a large advertising budget and these books don't exactly mesmerize the media in the thrill-a-minute department.

I went online to USA Today, found an article by one of their travel editors, sent a one-sentence e-mail mentioning these unique little towns and the fact that with Christmas coming, perhaps a Best Small Towns To Visit would make an interesting article for readers.

In two days, voila, a response and request for the book. I overnighted a package to them and upon receiving it, the travel editor e-mailed back and said yes, she'd like to feature this in a story, and she did me one better.

She suggested the author select some of the more interesting and diverse ways that small towns celebrate Christmas and write a piece on the 10 Best Small Towns To Visit At Christmas.

The feature ran a few weeks before Christmas in USA Today, both online and print editions. A local author, Brown was thrilled.

Let's say you write Midwest fiction and your heroine is a rodeo star who cooks a mean enchilada. You hear a radio show talking about an upcoming western-themed event they're sponsoring.

The possibilities are many. From guesting on the show to talk about the West's love of rodeos (have some history handy), to suggesting an audience call-in for a giveaway of a few copies of your book and a recipe for the best enchiladas this side of the Rio Grande. Radio can happen fast, so have your ammunition (well, we are talking about the West) ready before you call.

So whether a freelance writer or book author (fiction books can apply if they fit in with some trend, topic or current event such as the above) here's a few things to keep in mind:

1. Keep up with current events and be aware of the seasonal nature of some stories.

2. Whenever you hear about a particular topic via media that relates to what you write, gather your angles and preamble and try contacting the source to offer some exchange that may just land you on the show or in the papers.

3. Call or research story editors of print or electronic media to find out what topics or sections they will be covering in the future. If there's a match, contact them with your suggestions and story ideas (have a few) and ask them (if you get them by phone or e-mail) what they prefer to receive-bio, book, past published articles, press kit, photo, etc.

Once you've established contact and they ask for your materials, send them by courier or priority post and print "Requested Materials" on the package -- you can even print the date they requested it with a code word(s) -- let's say for example "10 Best Towns," as an added identifier to the recipient.

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Karen Williams Villanueva is the owner/operator of Karen Villanueva Author Services. A publicist for 20 years, first in the world of rock 'n' roll, and for the last 10 years as a specialist in book PR, she's a transplanted Torontonian living in Albuquerque, NM. Website:

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