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Mistake #1: The Oprah Assumption.
Yes, appearing on Oprah’s show is every author’s dream. We understand. But while it’s possible you could get very, very lucky and land this coveted booking, it’s unlikely you’ll start out there. Oprah is not your starting point—she’s your finish line! That said, don’t turn down any opportunity that comes your way, no matter how small it may seem. PR is a cumulative journey. Every hit counts and takes you closer to your goal.

Mistake #2: Failing to Plan Ahead.
Your Thanksgiving recipe book won’t make a splash if you try to promote it on November 1st! Pushing time-sensitive stories too late is a useless effort, no matter how great your idea may seem. By working with the media and pitching ideas well in advance, you can get the placement you deserve without sweating over a deadline!

Mistake #3: Trumpeting the Fact That You Have a Book (Rather Than the Book’s Content.)
This is a classic mistake. Your press materials should always focus on the interesting tips or the significance of your book, not merely the fact that it’s hot off the press. Editors want information that is relevant and interesting to their readers. Think like an editor and you will gain their attention and respect!

Mistake #4: Overlooking Timely Events and Stories That Tie into Your Book.
Don’t forget to incorporate obvious news angles into your publicity. Holidays, politics, and business news are hot topics. Look for ways to connect to what’s happening in these arenas (if applicable to your book) and editors will love you.

Mistake #5: Playing Hard to Get with Editors and Reporters.
These professionals work on a tighter schedule than almost anyone. Always be courteous in returning their calls and fulfilling their requests. Make it easy on them and they will remember you and help get your name out there.

Mistake #6: Being Inflexible About Your Audience and Your Pitch.
You may believe you’ve got the greatest and most original idea in the world, but if it is not gaining media attention you’ll have to scrap it and come back with a fresh approach. Remember this mantra: If it’s not getting ink, you must rethink!

Mistake #7: Disregarding Niche Markets.
If you wrote a book on parenting, don’t limit yourself by approaching only parenting magazines and family/parenting writers at daily papers. Education pubs and religious magazines might also appreciate your message. And don’t expect these niche markets to respond to the pitch you used for the big national names—tailor your press releases to the audience at which you’re aiming.

Mistake #8: Failing to Understand the Pubs You Approach.
Always familiarize yourself with the magazines and papers that you hope will feature your work. Learning who writes about what is extremely important. So is knowing what the pub does not cover. Send the editor of a vegetarian health magazine a story on the history of meatloaf and you’ll alienate her forever!

Mistake #9: Blowing Your Budget on Too Many Galleys.
Fewer and fewer publications are interested in working from galleys. Learn which ones still accept them, print fewer copies, and send them to these pubs…and save your money for something more impactful.

Mistake #10: Underestimating Freelancer Relationships.
A Bad Economy + Failing Publications + Editor Layoffs = More Freelancers Than Ever Before. Many newspapers and magazines rely heavily on freelancers these days. They carry a lot of weight. Treat them with courtesy and respect and they’ll return the favor.