July 16, 2019

Press Releases that Fit the Crime, Romance, or Nonfiction Work

Public relations, press release, query letter, book proposal, book promotionDavid Cornford and Steven Lewis have published Not a Gold Rush: The 2012 Taleist Self-Publishing Survey (Taleist, 2012). While I am still digesting the comparisons made, especially between the top earners and the remainder of those surveyed, it offers some of the first detailed information about self-publishing authors and their practices.

The author descriptions at the back led me to How to Write Perfect Press Releases by Steven Lewis (Taleist, 2012).

Lewis eschews so-called PR distribution sites because these take generic information that a person or company wants to distribute and assumes that journalists hungry for stories will search the daily postings. These remind him of a fax machine at newspaper whose output scrolled down into a box on the floor.

He challenges press release writers to pinpoint magazines, newspapers, blogs, and the like that could treat your subject. Then you need to drill down to the section editor, journalist, or blogger who would read and possibly revise or expand your piece into a news article. The transaction is this:

You are exchanging an idea for a story to run in a publication in return for being mentioned in the story. The journalist benefits because he needs to write good stories; you benefit from the exposure of being featured in a publication. The reader is not party to the transaction, but has to benefit from it (by being informed or entertained) for the journalist to be able to write the story.

The resulting press release is much like a good query letter, namely, it is fitted to the literary agent or editorial recipient; the proposed book makes sense when viewing this publisher’s other list of works. Or, as Lewis puts it, “To write a press release that has any chance of success you must find the overlap between what you want to say and what a publication’s readers will be interested in hearing.

Yes, this is not carpet bombing a long list of journals or blogs; it’s trench warfare–hard work on developing a few likely and fitting outlets for your news.

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