"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Why Regional Pitching Can Leverage Big Success

Penny C. Sansevieri

With all the talk of Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other social media, we often forget how we used to promote a book: locally. Many books that hit big success did so by building a regional buzz. But regional seems a lot less sexy these days and often gets overlooked. If media is being pursued, it's often on a national level, bypassing individual markets altogether.

One of the things I've found about regional promotion is that it can often surprise you. When we worked on The Kennedy Detail last November, we had enormous success regionally, while major stations and national markets seemed to lag in interest for this exceptional title. In fact, I believe that part of the reason this book hit the bestseller list was because of the regional buzz.

If you're wondering how regional coverage can affect your success, let me tell you another story. Some years back, two women in Louisiana wrote a Cajun cookbook. Now, if any of you have been to Louisiana you know that there are hundreds of Cajun cookbooks, nothing really unique there, right? But these women figured that out and decided instead of trying to do a national push, they would focus regionally. They were everywhere: airports, drycleaners, coffee shops, grocery stores and restaurants. The result? They built exceptional buzz for this book and ended up getting the attention of a New York publisher who offered them a big deal to buy the book. Sometimes small can be big.

So, what would regional pitching look like for you? Well, my recommendation to any author is saturate your market. Make sure everyone in your city or town knows about you and what you're doing.

Additionally, you don't need to just focus on your region, you could expand this out to other parts of the country as well. If the idea of pitching regionally has piqued your interest, here are some ways to make it work:

  • Don't repurpose national pitches: This is a big one. I don't recommend that you use your national pitches for your local market. Local cares about local and even though every station will report on major national stories, it's always best if they have a regional tie-in.
  • Get to know your area: This is especially true if you're pitching outside of your market. Get to know the nuances of the market you are going after. Know their hot buttons and then decide whether your story can tie into them. But regardless, you want to understand the market you are pitching.
  • Local media varies: Local media will vary depending on the region you're in. For some markets print has the biggest voice, for others it's broadcast. By digging into your area and getting to know the region, important segments will start to become apparent. For example, in areas that have a lot of morning shows they will generally have a pretty balanced broadcast and print consumption. But other areas might surprise you. For example, I just moved from San Diego where, despite the size of the city, they only have one paper serving it: the San Diego Union Tribune. If you don't make it into that paper, you're not in great shape. Especially if your regional campaign is heavily driven to print. The flip side of this is that this city has a lot of great broadcast opportunities both in TV and radio, so your time might be better spent there.
  • Tailor, tailor, tailor: Don't forget that local matters so you'll want to make sure to position your pitch on a local angle.
  • Getting to know you: It's easier than ever to get to know a market by reading, listening, or watching online. This will help you identify reporters, journalists, and radio hosts who might have a keen interest in what you are pitching.
  • Event pitching: Regional media loves talking about events and other tie-ins. One of the best ways to get local media is by doing an event.
  • Getting into bookstores: If your goal is to get bookstores to place orders, a regional push can help there as well. If you're doing events or media locally, this will help drive readers into the stores and the numbers start adding up, which could encourage bookstores to order more copies!
  • Small is big: When we pitch regionally, we never overlook the small, local papers. Often they are the freebies you get in supermarkets. I have found that they are often very well-read in the community and can help to drive a lot of interest to your book or event. They are sometimes difficult to find, though, and don't always show up in media databases. Having someone in the area is great to help identify these local publications. If you don't have anyone locally, call the bookstore where you're doing an event, and if there isn't an event as part of this media push, call the local supermarket and ask them!

Getting focused regionally can be a great enhancement to any campaign. It's also a great way to bring longevity to a marketing push. Regional markets aren't always as hung up on book release dates as bigger, national markets are, so the window is much wider here for pitching.

Good luck!

Follow Penny C. Sansevieri on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bookgal

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