Book Publicity: All You Need To Know You Learned In Kindergarten

This is a guest post from Eleanor Van Natta, a freelance publicist and writer.

Five Things To Remember From The Age Of Five

A short time after venturing into book publicity at the gentle request of an author friend, it dawned on me that I had plenty of experience and skills that could be put to use as a publicist. What I realized was that publicity isn’t rocket science. I could do well if I just kept in mind five foundational concepts learned a long time ago in a place called kindergarten.

1) First, Learn Your ABC’s and 1-2-3’s

When my first client hired me, I didn’t panic; I started reading. I knew I needed to learn some basics about book publicity; I needed to learn my ABC’s. So I read everything I could get my hands on about publicity. Twitter, Google, and the library were all great playmates for this adventure. And the best part? Most of that stuff was totally free, which was really great since my lunch money was limited.

2) Its Hard To Go Wrong With Peanut Butter & Jelly

I am sure that there were weeks in kindergarten when I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch. Why? Because they never let me down. They were simple and always good to the last bite.

The same is true of a great pitch. Grab onto something that works, a pitch formula if you will, and this will keep you from having to completely re-write pitches and lessen the chance of leaving out critical details. Change the hook in the subject line (the flavor of the jelly), but have a consistent pitch letter for yourself. Put your basic author information in it and why you should be interviewed (the peanut butter), surround it with credentials, accomplishments, and media experience (the bread) and end it with your contact information and availability (the wrapping that keeps it from going stale). Don’t forget your lunch box: make note of the city and time zone you reside in as well as indicating that you can sometimes be available for same-day telephone interviews (if in fact that is true). The last little tidbit is something that may move you to the top of the list for those appreciative producers trying to fill an opening from a last-minute cancellation.

3) Don’t Let A Little Rain Get In The Way

In life, as in nursery rhymes, distressing things can and do happen. The itsy-bitsy spider kept climbing up the water spout and getting washed out, again and again. You may feel just as washed out at some point, or you might take some lumps and falls like and Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on, but more often than not persistence pays off.

When you are courageously and politely persistent like the spider, however, the sun does shine after the rain.

4) “If You Never Did You Should. These Things Are Fun and Fun Is Good.”

As adults we are bombarded with “Just Do It”, but back in kindergarten it was more of “Just Try It” from authors like Dr. Seuss. His words of wisdom have application far beyond the age of five, especially when it comes to publicity and you. If you are feeling stuck or lacking courage, if you feel like the itsy-bitsy spider on a rainy day, post these words of Dr. Seuss on your bathroom mirror or tape them to your desk:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

And remember, you don’t always have to shoot for the high profile shows that may be an excess of pressure for you. Do some smaller shows with hosts that you like and just have some fun (while at the same time gaining valuable experience). And if you are still not having fun, it may just be time for a short recess.

5) Summer Always Seems A Long Way Off

“And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!”

OK, so you don’t get a 100% guarantee, but keep in mind that you have already accomplished the hardest part – writing your book and getting it published. Have some publicity goals, make a plan and work your plan, and before you know it you will have arrived at the summer of your dreams.

When it comes to book publicity, every author has a deep well of life experience, going way back to kindergarten, from which they can draw upon and use to their advantage. Believe in yourself, and what you know, and you can go far.

Eleanor Van Natta is a freelance publicist and writer who resides near Portland, Oregon, USA with her husband and two children. Eleanor ventured into publicity while she was a stay at home mom working on her first book, and prior to that she had a sales career spanning more than 15 years. You can visit her website at and follow her on Twitter,

Image: Flickr Creative Commons JadeXJustice

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