Side-Dooring: The Best Way to Publicize Fiction

October 2004
by Jodee Blanco

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard colleagues say, “You can’t publicize fiction.” Let me state here and now: fiction can be just as newsworthy as nonfiction. The only limits are the boundaries of the imagination conceiving the campaign.

I teach courses on book publicity at New York University and the University of Chicago. I often tell my students there are two kinds of publicity pitches–front door and side door. The front-door technique is presenting the straightforward, obvious media angle, and it’s effective only when the premise of the book itself can be positioned as news and the author’s credibility is explicit.

Otherwise, and often with fiction, the side-door method is a useful creative solution. “Side-dooring” is providing alternative angles to the press that frame the book and author from a perspective not easily apparent. For example, you’re publicizing an espionage thriller set in modern-day China. The author lived and worked in China for three months while researching the book. If you take the front-door route and pitch the feature writer at a newspaper to do a conventional author interview, it’s likely the editor won’t bite, because the book is fiction and the author isn’t an academic expert on China. However, if you seek a side door, you open up a whole new spectrum of possibilities. For instance, you could pitch the newspaper’s travel writer on doing an article abo…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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