The myth about press releases By PJ Nunn

Or should I say myths? Many authors believe the press release is the one piece of promotional literature that is of primary importance. The one used the most; the one that’s most effective. Call it what you will. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. Maybe the confusion is in the definition of what a press release is today. Because an effective press release today may not look much like it did ten years ago. In fact, it should not look like it did ten years ago. Things have changed.

When Sarah Sherik, VP of content marketing for PR Newswire analyzed the worst-performing 500 out of 20,000 press releases, she came up with a list of what to do and not to do to keep your press release off the bottom. I’ve included her points here and commented on them:
1. Write like you talk and keep it brief– don’t use industry mumbo jumbo. Write naturally and use good grammar and punctuation. Many open their emails on mobile devices today. Some authors are tempted to write two page press releases but seriously, don’t. Less is more. Capture their interest and they’ll ask for more info.
2. Cut back on links – search engines may read them as spam. One or two well-placed links is enough. When too many words turn blue, it implies too much work involved to go get information. Give them the important information and include one or two links of supporting info.
3. Avoid the use of unnecessary capitalization – what used to pass for emphasis is now seen as shouting. Copy littered with capital letters will annoy readers and make your release underperform.
4. Recognize that content recirculates – press releases used to have a shelf life of about 72 hours. Today, it’s 4 months or longer. Understand that clouds hold information and it’s still new to a person who hasn’t seen it before. Keep your content fresh enough to matter if it’s seen months from now.
5. Always include something tweetable in your pitches – make it easy for someone to help get the word out.
6. How about issuing a press release in tweets? In September @AmazonKindle issued a press release in a series of 14 tweets allowing people to retweet parts that most interested them.
7. Feed your influencers – These hungry critters require regular doses of information to survive. They thrive on attention, and multimedia content is their favorite snack food. Exclusives make them purr. How? Determine whose information influences you, then when you can, provide them with the kind of news they like to hear.
8. Interaction matters – so be sure to keep up with feedback that tells you who’s interacting with your posts and press info. Engaging with others is the way to keep your visibility high, not the number of status posts or tweets. Like, reply, retweet – those things will keep you in the arena of being read. Klout scores can tell you something.
But obviously, when it comes to press releases, the first and foremost thing to remember is keep your content newsworthy. While it’s technically true that the release of a new book is news, be honest. If you receive a press release saying John Doe wrote a new book that is coming out next week (and you’ve never heard of John), how excited would you get? Excitement grows when the release includes little known information that is of particular interest to you. This is why a blanket release is rarely effective. A targeted release can be written to pique the interest of the receiver(s). Assuming of course that you know their interests.
In a nutshell:
1. Make it newsworthy and include it in a short headline.

New book coming out next month (BAD)

Local author releases new book (BETTER)

Local vet donates book proceeds to Humane Society (BEST)

The BAD title should be explanatory – there is no specific news there. The BETTER is barely better, but it does alert the journalist that the release includes something about a local author that could be newsworthy. The BEST actually gives information to help journalists determine if they want to read further. A vet (although it’s not clear whether a veteran or veterinarian) wrote a book and will donate proceeds to the Humane Society. Lots of info there. Good job. Make them want to know more!

2. Write like you talk; use good grammar and punctuation.

3. Include a link and a tweet.

4. Send it to journalists who are interested in what you have to tell them.

How do you know what a journalist is interested in? It takes some research, but there are ways. Determine who writes about what you’re pitching. For our purposes here, it’s usually books so look up the book reviewers and columnists in your local paper or whatever publication you’re targeting. You can find a lot of information on the Internet. Google journalists to see what articles they’ve written lately and read a few. You’ll usually find that recurring interests begin to appear the more you read.
Following these guidelines should increase your response rate and your visibility.

Can you share some tips with us about how you get attention with your press releases?

Can Internet-only Promotion Really Work? by Velda Brotherton

newVeldaCan Internet-only Promotion Really Work?

By Velda Brotherton

It’s interesting to note how many writers do not use the Internet to promote their books. Is it enough to do personal appearances? How many of those can we afford to do nowadays with gas being so high and bookstores closing right and left? When my novels came out in 2012 and 2013 I could no longer handle physical appearances, so I made the tough decision to use the Internet to promote myself and my work. Occasionally I’ll do a book signing or conference appearance, but not often enough to make a spike in sales.

Just think of it. Sitting in an office and touching people all over the globe with information about your writing, your books, and your life as a writer. Yet it was a tough decision for several reasons. I like talking to readers and writers, and all I knew about my computer was writing and formatting manuscripts. So the first step was to devote time to learning what I’d have to know. Since I had a few manuscripts lying around, I could spend a full summer on that project.

First I submitted a couple of new manuscripts to small publishers, then went to work.

I had an Amazon Page, a website, and three blogs on Blogger. I belonged to a couple of organizations that had Yahoo groups online. I joined LinkedIn and Good Reads. Quickly I realized this was not enough to get my brand out there. It is more important to become known by your name than by an individual book. People know you and like you, then they’ll just naturally want to read your books.

So I added Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and then Pinterest when it arrived on the scene. I’ve discovered it’s not enough to use these sites, but it’s important to learn the secrets of using them well, which I’m still in the process of doing. Take one at a time and conquer the ins and outs.

I promote online for two days out of my six-day writing week. Joining writing groups on Yahoo, Linked In and Google has afforded me the most information on promotion sites online. There writers share sites they have found, they offer to host bloggers, to review books, or share sites that perform those tasks. With good organization, you can post on these quickly and efficiently. Ask friends to repost, re-pin, and re-tweet to double, triple and go beyond with your posts. A blog is a must, and I moved those on Blogger to Word Press where I could get more pages for my books and other subject matter.

There are also what I call virtual book stores online. These are sites that will display your book cover(s), something about ThePurloinedSkullFC300(1)you and the book and a buy link. This gives readers the opportunity to browse specific books without getting lost in the millions of books on Amazon. Most of these are free or have a small minimal sign-up fee. Ask David is such a site, and it is exceptional. For a basic small one-time fee it will exhibit all your books and promote them. There are many genre-related promo sites. Google for them.

Don’t forget that when you post on Facebook, you aren’t limited to your own personal site. There are many group sites that will allow you to join and post information of your own, such as Incredible Indie Ebooks. If you belong to a writer’s group, it often has a Facebook page where members can post.

Beware: Don’t turn into a spammer. Post interesting information about all sorts of subjects, like something from one of your books or something you learned while researching for that book.

For instance while researching for my recent book, The Purloined Skull, the first of my series, A Twist of Poe Mysteries. I learned that Edgar Allan Poe did not receive any royalties for his re-published short story, The Purloined Letter, because at the time there were no International Royalty laws.

cover4When researching for Once There Were Sad Songs, my hero rode a Harley Motorcycle, so one day I was driving through Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and there was a motorcycle gathering for the weekend. Spotting a few guys with their bikes parked, I pulled over. They were eager to answer all my questions, and I had a great time visiting with them. Did you know that if you jump one of those heavy Harleys you’re liable to ruin the shocks or worse wreck it? But it is often done by guys with a death wish. So, in my book, my hero, a veteran with a death wish, jumps his bike off a bluff down onto the sandy shoreline of a creek and lives to tell about it.

There I told you about two of my books without spamming you, because I included something you might think interesting. Make yourself easy to find by posting everywhere possible.

Website: http://www.veldabrotherton.com

Blog: http://www.veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

FB: http://www.facebook.com/vebrotherton

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/veldabrotherton

How about you? What can you add to share experiences in online promotion?