Turning Jealousy into Success…or, What YOU Can Do to be the Featured Expert

Turning Jealousy into Success…or, What YOU Can Do to be the Featured Expert 1024 576 Reader Views

by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers 

Someone Beat You to It, Huh?

Maybe we all have a tendency to feel disgruntled when our local newspaper quotes an expert who isn’t (really, he isn’t!) as expert as we are!

We feel even worse when CNN features a talking head on the subject of that author’s book and they disagree with us!

Seems we have some choices. We can grumble to ourselves and lose sleep. We can write to whoever was remiss and complain. Or we can take positive action.

Here are your dos and don’ts:

  •  Whatever you do, do not complain on a social network or to the producer/talk show host or other media person about their lack of foresight (and appreciation of your brilliance).
  •  Do use your Googling skills to contact whoever was in charge (or to blame!) for this lack of foresight. Give yourself enough time to cool off and put your diplomatic hat on. Then, and only then, do you approach them. And you use all the tact you can muster: Something like, “I saw the lovelly feature you did on (whatever the topic was) and noticed you quoted (competing author/expert’s name here). I thought perhaps you’d like to add my name to your list of experts for (xxxx topic here). I might be able to give you a different perspective on the topic. I also can offer expertise on related topics like xx and xx.”
  •  Now it’s time to use your query letter skills. Introduce yourself. Be very clear about your credentials. Unless you are famous, use your credential upfront–before your name per the advice of master PR Person Raleigh Pinsky. She gave me permission to use her script/template for how to approach reporters and others responsible for stories to put in the Appendix of the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, now published by Modern History Press. She explains that name-after-credentials plan and I annotate it—some would say “dissect it”—so you can better emulate or adapt what fits your needs.
  • Offer the person you talk to a product sample or a copy of your book along with your media kit. When you send it, use a friendly cover letter. (Do not attach unless your contact suggests it when you ask for her address! Even Time Magazine warns against attachments!)
  • Repeat the process again when something similar hits the news. Your goal is to be remembered—or, better yet, be there when your editor or contact needs you.  Expand your campaign to include others who might cover the same kind of story.
  • Make sure that editor, gatekeeper, producer is now on your Excel list for important media releases. It’s a wonderful way to keep in touch.
  •  If you think of a perfect lead or story for that editor, send her an email about it.  Do it even if it has nothing to do with your book. You’re trying to build a relationship so she thinks of you first instead of that other person she used. If it does have something to do with your book—tactful here—mention why there is a relationship and maybe why it is an especially good one.

Here’s the number one biggest mistake you can make:

Don’t assume that because you write fiction, you can’t be an expert. Or because you are self-published, your expertise doesn’t count.

Of course, your voice counts! I am an expert on tolerance, polygamy, and a host of related subjects based on the theme and setting of my novel This Is the Place (www.bit.ly/ThisIsthePlace). And it’s out of print and available only on Amazon’s new and used feature! And yes, an author’s expertise may rely at least in part on her profession outside the publishing industry. To give yourself an edge reread your own book examining the subjects, characters, settings and themes of your fiction and see how it relates to what’s in the news. You’ll be ready next time that subject comes up. And it will. It may take a while, but news repeats itself. I’m sure you have noticed.

Not all missed opportunities are missed forever. They can inspire us to do better next time around.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of #HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner for The Frugal Book Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade. She believes in PR in general, especially speaking, entering contests, and writing for blogs and anthologies to separate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of her own favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature and “Women Who Make Life Happen,” given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist, and she loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres. Learn more at https://howtodoitfrugally.com.

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