How Can I Get My Self-Help Book Reviewed in USA Today?

Many people want to get publicity for their books into the most widely read newspaper in the US. But few are chosen.

I recently saw a front-page interview with a new self-help author, so I decided to deconstruct the story to find out the publicity strategy used because I always like to give my book author clients, tips on how to get publicity.

First, the person had professional credentials. She has a master’s degree in social work from NYU and was a therapist in Beverly Hills.

Second, the book was published by a major book publisher. The publisher was Voice, an imprint of Hyperion.

Third, her father was Tom Brokaw. He’s a former TV anchorperson of NBC news and a best-selling author in his own right.

I’m not sure which of these three factors played the deciding role in getting the interview with USA TODAY. Are you?

Only kidding.

Of course there was only one factor to consider: Her father was a celebrity.

I can name more than 100 clients who have the same professional credentials and publishing experience bonafides. (I can even name 10 clients who are in Beverly Hills!) But I can’t name any that have gotten this kind of great publicity out of the gate.

For the rest of us, we have to keep on writing press releases, writing articles, pitching the media, and doing all the other things that sell books.

I am always reminded of Mark Victor Hansen telling me how he launched “Chicken Soup for the Soul” which was rejected hundreds of times before a publisher agreed to print it.

He would do five things each day to promote the book. They would be small things, like send a review copy to a celebrity, or call a reporter, or do a book signing. After a while (and it was long while), the book finally took off and launched one of the most successful franchises in publishing history.

So my questions for you are:
1. Do you have a famous parent?
2. If not, are you willing to do five things a day for a very long time to make your book a success?

The way you answer the question will affect how well you will do.

Dan Janal is a publicity and marketing consultant who helps small businesses, coaches, consultants, and authors get more inquiries, boost online sales, and keep a relationship with their customers online and offline through effective marketing programs. To learn more, visit

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  1. says

    Not coming from a celebrity family, and a self-published author, I have done it all myself for years and not a blip of interest. So yeah, all those factors you mentioned do count. Which means that no matter how bad a book is, it will gain cachet, while hard-working and quality authors of qualtiy fiction will (once again) get ignored. Nonfiction appears to be the only type of book which has any kind of traction in this economy. So I’ll keep on keeping on and have the expectation of more of the same.

  2. says

    Theresa, as you know, there is more to selling books than just writing a good book. Although having celebrity and other factors can make it easier, unknown, unconnected authors do breakthrough and have bestsellers. The reality is, though, that few books become wildly successful. Keep plugging away at marketing and look for every opportunity to sell your books. Good luck!