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7 Tips to Make the Media Love Authors

By guest blogger Janet Blaser


In 2019, I compiled and self-published on Amazon “Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats,” a collection of essays written by 27 different women about their move to and lives in Mexico. During the publishing process, I spent many, many hours researching who was writing about expats in Mexico, retirement, women’s issues, and other related topics.


My first big break came through an editor at MarketWatch (a Wall Street Journal subsidiary) whom I was following on Instagram and queried with an email. She responded the next day and then wrote an article about me and the book.


That exposure jettisoned into my becoming a listed regular contributor to CNBC.com; I’ve written one story a month for them since January 2021. They’ve been translated into Spanish for Telemundo, Hindi, and Arabic and receive hundreds of thousands of views and hundreds of comments, which I do my best to respond to. (I spend 6-8 hours a week on this.)


In July, CNBC sent a videographer to Mazatlán to film me for a video tour of my home and life in Mexico. He filmed for 10 hours over two days; that turned into an 8-minute YouTube video (500,000+ views) and a 34-second TikTok video that went viral with 4 million views in less than two days!


I’ve received hundreds of messages on both those platforms, as well as umpteen emails and Instagram messages. Is it overwhelming at times? Yes. Am I making tons of money from book sales? Not really. But every time CNBC runs a story or re-runs an article or video, there’s a surge for 3-4 days. Since the first CNBC story, 1,700 paperbacks and 1,026 eBooks have sold, with royalties of $11,500 USD, plus about 140,000 KENP pages read (the equivalent of 567 books, with royalties of only $593! Time to re-think this!)


I also write a weekly food column for Mexico News Daily (obviously a much smaller platform) but it puts my name out there regularly for search engines. The latest random connection is my being contacted by a luxury real estate company to write a monthly blog post for their website about life in Mexico. They want the exposure my name brings. Will there be book sales from this? Maybe some. But there’s a nice monthly fee for a 600-word blog post.


What I’ve come to realize from all of this is to have an open mind for what might happen as a result of promoting your book. It may not be what you expected!


7 Tips for Making the Media Love You


1. Do your research. Send queries only to editors or writers you know are writing about your topic or something related to it. If it seems like a long shot, it probably is; that said, is there an unusual or timely connection to your topic that would give the publication a new angle for an overdone subject? Spell that out clearly and concisely.


2. Give them what they want-not what YOU want. You’re basically helping them do their job, so learn to let go of what you think will work (unless they ask you). Send perfect copy in the format and method they want it in. My editor at CNBC doesn’t want attachments; she wants stories in the body of the email and photos sent to Dropbox, clearly labeled. They write headlines and subheads, although I can make suggestions (that are rarely used). At this level, whole departments are tracking SEO and analytics of every word in every article they publish, and they know what brings readers. You must learn to let go.


3. Picture perfect. I can’t over-estimate the value of this. Have a portfolio of attractive, high-resolution photos, taken professionally, not just of you and your book, but of you casually enjoying life. You want photos that will draw in the reader. Don’t manipulate or adjust them. Editors may “fill in” with lower resolution pix you took on your phone, but the main picture needs to be super high resolution. If it’s their style, offer to write short, interesting captions.


4. You are your brand. You must be accessible and easy to find and contact. Respond quickly. Answer all communications immediately, even if it’s only to acknowledge receipt. Yes, that means having apps on your phone and paying attention to them. Let them know you’re ready and available for anything they might need. Maybe another story falls through and they’re scrambling to fill a space—they know you’re there, ready and able to deliver.


5. Spread yourself thin. There are two reasons why it behooves you to have active profiles, accounts, and bios on a big variety of social media. (Hate doing this? Oh well.) You need to be in touch with your editors in the way that’s easiest for them—not you. I’ve found many editors prefer Instagram for communications, even the first time. And you also need to have and keep your name “out there ” everywhere. Did I know CNBC was going to make a 34-second video of me for TikTok, or that it would have 4 million views in less than two days?! No. Did I have a TikTok account? Uhh, no again. Did I scramble frantically to open one and reach those viewers? Of course. Did I succeed? Sadly, no. Be prepared. See #1 and #2.


6. Get yourself out there. In the past 18 months, I’ve done about 30 podcasts for big and little shows. Some were very professional, others agonizing. None of them paid. I’ve used a handful of new programs for these, forcing myself to download and do quick tutorials beforehand. Do they result in book sales? Maybe some. But my Facebook and Instagram followers love seeing/hearing them, and my CNBC editors love being linked back. I also write weekly and quarterly columns for two Mexico expat websites. You never know who might see/hear these or where it could lead.


7. Have a press kit. Compile your best photos, a few bio-blurbs of different lengths with links to your book(s) and social media accounts, and a variety of synopsis of your work and who you are. You won’t be able to list everything you’ve written or done—this isn’t a resuméso pick out 1-3 of the most valuable things to include. Keep this info updated.


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Janet Blaser is the author of the best-selling book, “Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats,” featured on CNBC and MarketWatch. Click here to see an August 2021 article by CNBC featuring her. She has lived in Mexico since 2006 after retiring from an active journalism career in Santa Cruz, California. A writer by nature, she also likes to surf, garden, read, cook, and, at times, rabble-rouse.

Stay connected by following Janet’s blog at whyweleftamerica.com or visiting her Facebook page, @whyweleftamerica.

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