Press Release Me (Let Me Go!)

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
Location
Cornwall, UK
I’m currently in the throes of preparing a press release to inform the world how wonderful I and my books are! :rolleyes:

I’d much rather be hiding away writing Book 6 of my Cornish Detective series or novella 3 of the Art Palmer series, but, these days potential readers think they’ve got the right to delve into an author’s life.

Researching how to do things online, I found a number of helpful hints, including that the best press releases are of 300 – 500 words, which should include an author biography of 100 words. Also, to refer to oneself in the third person, by writing like a reporter penning a news article.

One thing that surprised me, is that many of any newspaper’s articles started off as press releases, which were grabbed by an editor to be adapted and published to fill space.

Useful sources of information:

Press Releases: How to make one and a success story - by The Creative Penn | The Creative Penn

How to Write a Press Release that Gets Attention

Just as I’ve hired a promotional code distribution site and a promo trailer maker to produce videos for my Cornish Detective series, so I intend to pay a press release distribution agency to scatter my self-advertisement widely.

Free UK Press Release Distribution

They’ll do some things for free, but paying £50 means they’ll contact more relevant media, bloggers and consumers. I’ll make sure Cornish media knows about my books, and I intend to get in touch with any special interest groups who might like (or hate) to see their passion appearing in a novel. So far, I’ve potentially offended surfers, nudists, Druids, Wiccans, gay men and women, anglers, painters, art lovers, illegal immigrants, photographers, farmers, solicitors, police officers, Eastern Europeans, hippies, mercenary soldiers, MI5, the FBI, gardeners, politicians and those suffering depression.

If any of this sounds like I know what I’m doing, let me say I really don’t. As ever, I’m making stuff up as I go along. I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks!

Have any of you made a press release?

What did you say about yourself and your book?

Did it have an effect on sales?

Sorry for the horrible pun in the title, I’ll give Engelbert his moment in the spotlight:

 
Good for you, Paul!

I've written a bunch of press releases in my time (most recent one was last week, on behalf of the school I work for) and read about a billion (feels like that, anyway) during many decades working in the meeja.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," is a useful maxim in many media organisations...so if a press-release is well-written and from a trusted source (and independently verifiable) it will often be used almost verbatim in a publication. Media people like well-written press releases, it saves on thinking time..!

I've recently put together a writing style guide for the educational group of which my school is a member. I included a few tips on writing a press release...including what you've said in your post, in fact.

Of course, news reporting (and related fields) is just another way of telling a story, so there are overlapping skills with those of a fiction writer. But with media releases, there's no time for world-building or engaging with the protagonist: you cut to the chase. Always put the story in the first line and expand on the details as you go, always allowing an editor to cut from the bottom upwards, without losing meaning.

Putting together a media release can be a good writing exercise, especially when it comes to writing a synopsis. Be concise and grab your reader's attention from the very first line. If you can do that with your synopsis, it's going to help your overall pitch no end!

And media outlets...especially high profile ones, like BBC news rooms...will have similar issues to literary agencies etc. They get inundated with emails and media releases, so ideally, yours needs to stick out.

Another good tip is practical: always put your media release within the body of your email, don't send it as an attachment (opening attachments is a faff you don't need when you're working your way through an inbox bulging with several hundred emails). Use an easy to read font and make sure it's obvious how the media outlet can contact you for extra details (email/phone number). Always include a quote. You don't have to attach photos, but state that they're available on request. Use short paragraphs. Don't cram too much information in a single line. And so on. Most of it is common sense, really. Getting some of that stuff wrong won't necessarily stymie your chances of harnessing the free publicity you're after, but it won't help either.

Thus endeth the lesson :-)
 
@KateESal...Interesting? Me? Apparently, I am....at least people think so, when I tell them of some of my life experiences. But, condensing myself into a press release makes me sound like the world's most boring man!
After studying how to write a press release, I've finally come up with something that appears to satisfy experts' suggestions. This includes an enticing title and a subtitle, about the author (should I mention being a stripper? o_O)three links to where the books are, including the audiobook, and a precis of the plot. Some experts recommend using illustrations, while others dislike the idea.
Do you have the time to spare to run your eyes over my press release? I feel like I've created a mini-Frankenstein! :robot-face:
 
mention being a stripper
Personal, or in a club?
On another note:
I wonder why it's okay, and even an enticement, if a male mentions they worked as a stripper, but the reaction to a female saying the same thing brings on gasps of shock and horror -- unless they're still young and [what word could I use here]?
 
Personal, or in a club?
On another note:
I wonder why it's okay, and even an enticement, if a male mentions they worked as a stripper, but the reaction to a female saying the same thing brings on gasps of shock and horror -- unless they're still young and [what word could I use here]?
I'm not sure that it would be OK for a man to say he'd been a stripper—unless the way he entertained was louche. The closest example I can think of is comedian Marcus Brigstocke. He worked as a podium dancer.
 
You have a huge inbuilt advantage in that you have a clearly-defined geographical market. Lots of local publicity! Every gift shop / tourist info centre should be stocking it. Be prepared to use up a ton of shoe leather. It’s hard graft but this is how you can get things going organically. Get ready for the tidal wave of Londoners to hit you, all looking for something local to read...
 
Yes Paul I'll happily take a look at your press release. Email me: kate e salisbury AT gmail dot com (close up the gaps and add the relevant punctuation :) )

Peter and Katie-Ellen are on the money about the local market for your stuff. You definitely want your press release going to BBC Radio Cornwall and Pirate FM, for example...the former in particular would probably want you as a studio guest (or the post-COVID equivalent!) and the latter may at least give it one or two mentions. I'm sure there are Cornwall-themed blogs / websites etc. that would be interested.. you could offer a guest post etc....a blog tour...(have a look at the blog tours our Pop-Up guests RC Bridgestock have been on...they tend to target the crime genre blogs, so a perfect fit for your Cornish detective...)
 
Thank you, @KateESal, the press release will be on its way forthwith. I've spent several dispiriting days listing Cornish bookshops and gift shops. There are at least 19 bookshops, including one Waterstones, in Truro. The rest are all indies, though one guy appears to own three stores. As for shops that sell tourist souvenirs, maps and maybe a few books, it was impossible to tell online which ones stock paperbacks of local interest. The only gift shop that I know for sure handles beach reads is at Jamaica Inn (I used to drink there) which is, as you'd expect, choc-a-bloc with Daphne du Maurier titles.

Getting my Cornish Detective series into local shops is fraught with problems, not the least of which is having to fork out for paperbacks to be printed + the delivery charge to me. I understand that bookshops commonly demand a 55% discount on the cover price, as well as sale or return terms. I'll have to pay for delivery to the shop or take them myself.

I once knew a poet who came a cropper attempting just this. He gave up teaching to work as a writer, putting together a volume of his so-so verse and trying to flog it to Devon & Cornwall bookshops. He had 500 copies printed, of which he sold 20. The remainder were consigned to his garage, where they became homes for earwigs and spiders!
 
That could be a clue to why your poet came a cropper.

On the other hand, your Cornish detective novels are mystery stories spiced up with a bit of sex and violence, so likely to have a MUCH broader appeal!
I can but hope that the sex and violence appeal to readers, although I have doubts that the kinkiness would be acceptable for inclusion in a nice gift shop's stock. It's impossible to predict what readers will like or be offended by. One of my beta readers was happy to read gory details of an autopsy, but objected to a passionate sex scene.
 
Thanks for the good advice. Do you have any tips on the best way to collect email addresses to use for the press release distribution? That's what I have found takes loads of time - tons more than writing the press release in the first place.
 
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