To be a successful writer, first you must promote

One of the most important parts of textbook publicity and marketing is the press release. A simple yet well-written document that is going to put who, what, where, why and how can I buy this book; out into the marketplace.

If you want media coverage, you’ve got to make your story newsworthy and make clear why anyone should care about your new book. And you’ve got to offer valuable lessons learned, tips, or other useful suggestions from which the readers, listeners, or viewers can benefit. Bullet points and statistics are always helpful.

On nice letterhead, a press release should always be one page. If it’s a must go to two pages but I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to capture the attention of a journalist, book reviewer, bookseller, academic department, distributor, etc. immediately, and time is of the essence.

At the top you can put “For Immediate Release” but it isn’t always a requirement. The dateline, date written out entirely and location (use AP style for stand alone cities and state abbreviations) will suffice. But before you get going on the text of the press release, remember the catchy headline and subhead.

The headline only has one job: to keep the reader reading! It should also be in about a 30-point font and bold. If you choose to make it outrageous, make sure you can back it up. You don’t want a journalist/department to call you and then not be able to support it! Also, remember who is readying it. It may need to be altered according to where it is being sent.

Like the headline, the first paragraph should be newsworthy and possess language that captures the reader’s attention and briefly tell, in one to two sentences, what is being announced. The second paragraph, what is called a nut graph in a journalist article, should summarize or present background of the topic.

After you list the important information about your book, it’s message, maybe the page length, new, interesting and innovative research, etc. you should close the press release with an author bio. Feel free to bold the name or state “About the author.”

Lastly, the final paragraph should offer contact information to the publisher, author, distributor or publicist and a Website or another go to place for additional information.

Now that the press release is written and proofread it must be put out over the wires and passed along to relevant audiences. With today’s Internet there are plenty of free service sites that will distribute a press release to national, if not global, recipients.

Michelle Blackley is a literary publicist in Buffalo, NY. She is also an adjunct lecturer of communication at Buffalo State College and a freelance writer.

Textbook promotion: How to earn local, national media attention

Michelle A. Blackely

Michelle A. Blackley

“Houghton Mifflin Harcourt putting a halt on buying any new manuscripts”

“Publishing companies will no longer expense (extravagant) lunches with literary agents”

“Plunging sales and stocks reported from booksellers”

With headlines like these, the publishing community is wondering how the book industry will survive in a rocky economy, especially those in publicity. Anyone in public relations, media and even writers know promotion is needed to sell books but convincing upper brass can sometimes be an uphill battle. The good news is anyone can promote his or her work. A fancy Manhattan PR firm doesn’t have to be hired for big dollars.

Consider these tips to earn local and national media attention for your work:

  • The United States has a brand name society and the American consumer trusts what they know. If you are an author, especially a first-timer, creating a strong name and reputation for yourself in the book business matters most. Show your efforts, your credibility and highlight your book(s) on your website, signatures of emails, college/university newsletter, etc.
  • “Doing lunch” is still possible, just scale it down. Ask a publisher out for coffee and be ready to go Dutch.
  • Bigger isn’t always better. If your usual publishing house is going to drop your second or third book option, or flat out reject you, don’t fret. Look for a smaller house that may even have a budget set aside for an in-house publicity campaign. If that fails, self-publishing is becoming more popular and outsourcing provides great economical relief.
  • One of the great alternatives to traditional marketing is the use of publicity. Having an article written about you in the local newspaper or being interviewed by the news media positions you as an expert in your community. The best way to get this free publicity is by writing a well-written press release. A press release, simply put, is a statement prepared for the media that provides them with useful, accurate and interesting information. Remember, journalists are constantly searching for their next story and a well-written press release fulfills that need.

With the economy giving everyone a run for his or her money, it doesn’t mean it’s time to hide your important work and become invisible. Whether your goal is to have a book adopted in a college class or get an invitation from Oprah, it’s essential to lead with positivity and creativity. Don’t just sell – promote.

Michelle Blackley is a literary publicist in Buffalo, NY. She is also an adjunct lecturer of communication at Buffalo State College and a freelance writer.