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Getting Books Reviewed (Favorably) and Getting Media Coverage That Sells Books

Book Publicity Strategies for Getting More Media Coverage That Sells Books

I’ll talk the point of view from someone who gets books reviewed day in day out as a book publicist. I do this for a living, so I’ll share with you how I do it and what it takes to do it well.

I’m not a fan of book reviews, I believe that they have their place and a certain amount of limited utility. But to date, my experience and that of my clients continues to show that feature stories sell more books. They have a broader deeper reach, have greater shelf life, and are people focused, rather than product focused. They brand the author and with the trust and interested they generate, they result in people being far more likely to buy everything the author may have available for sale.

For that reason, I’ll hope you can bear with me and I’ll work you through this process of selecting what to say to media if you are an author trying to maximize your return on investment and the time you put into being a person who hopes to profit from creative writing and publishing. I’ll cover both book reviews and feature stories. I will do my best to encourage you to only use book announcements and try to get only to get started, and to switch to pitching feature stories if you really want to maximize your sales. The reason is simple. People respond to media best when it affects them emotionally. People can be persuaded to buy things using media yes. But to do so means that you have to turn them on and get them emotionally engaged. If you want to use media to reach people, that’s what you have to do.

Think about it. When was the last time you read a book review in a newspaper and then grabbed your credit card? Now when was the last time you read a recommendation in a trade publication, a blog post or a technical forum discussion (like this one), and then bought something or hired someone? What sort of writing got YOU to take the action.

Basically an author/publisher really wants publicity that gets people to buy books, so when you contact a media person, the goal is to get coverage that makes a galvanizing impression on the reader of the publication, or the person who’s listening to the radio, or watching TV, or reading a blog, or a mailing list or discussion post.

So the message you want the person to receive has to be so good that it provokes them to ACTION. So not only do you first need to WRITE A GOOD BOOK, but then you need to know what to say about it that really turns people on.

That’s the content you need to place in front of your reviewer, whether you want to just get a book review or a galvanizing feature story.

To be maximally effective with media, you have to understand what makes them tick. You need to realize that media are publishers (or producers of shows) they make their living, they survive and thrive from two primary sources of income: subscriptions and advertising. Yes, they are publishers who sell their writing just like you are trying to do.

That’s what you offer media. You package it in something that they are accustomed to using as a decision document. It’s called a news release.

My definition of a news release is a little different than that used by many. I define a news release like this:

– A written proposal
– containing a request for media coverage
– and/or an offer to provide media the content needed to achieve that end.

You sent a news release directly to the right media decision makers or you place it where they can find it and use it. I’ll spend more time on this later at the end of this post.

The goal of a news release is to get media action that results in media coverage. There really are only two possible favorable things that happen when you send a news release.

1. They write about you or interview you.
2. They request more information (like a copy of your book and a media kit)

If you don’t succeed at this step, you simply fail. So it’s crucial that you get the door open and either get them to say yes to something once they read your news release.

Being successful at this is like going through a gauntlet. Media will not give you free advertising. They only publish news, education, or entertainment that their audience will pay for and that their advertisers won’t object to.

So you have to be very selective on what you present. You have to present copy that is strategically designed to:

– Interest and even expand the media outlet’s target audience.
– Provide news, educational or entertainment value.
– Be easy to verify, trust, and work with.

So what information do you give to media? You give media information that increases the number of people who will buy what they publish. You do this by studying what they publish. Day in day out, what you need to produce to be successful is right before your eyes every day. You simply need to mimic what you see and use what is being published as a guide to deciding what you need to create and offer. You can use my 3 I technique any time you want. It works very well. You can decide you want to use a magazine, or USA Today, or the NY Times Book Review Section. It doesn’t matter, you just pick a target that looks just like what you want, and create something that looks like it belongs there.

That’s why when 3 I technique news releases are submitted, so much of the content is readily used. It’s not that you get lazy journalists, it’s that you’ve done your homework so good that the editor sees that it looks like it belongs there and decides to use your copy with little or no extra expenditure of corporate resources. I can show you a news release for client Susan Casey for a book titled Women Invents, which was published in 1997. A year ago, we wrote a news release all about women inventors. The news release was turned into an article for the March 31 2009 issue of Fast Company Magazine with Susan Casey getting the byline for the article. Cut and paste verbatim for a book that was published over ten years ago.

The lesson learned is that the book doesn’t really matter to media. What you offer to their public matters to media.

Media basically look at everything that comes to them and ask three questions:

1. How many people in my audience will be interested in this?
2. What’s in it for my audience?

These are pass fail questions. The answers have to be 1. Lots of people will be interested and 2. There’s great news, education or entertainment value.

If and only if you get a pass on these two questions, then you get to the next question.

3. How much time, effort, and money will this project require?

The answer has to be VERY LITTLE. In other words, the editor has to spend little money, time, resources, people, etc. to do their job.

Content is the ultimate determining factor to getting media attention. And to get media attention and interest you use a special communication called a news release.

Six essential parts of a Trash Proof News Release

1. The Call to Action
2. A Real Story That Relates to Real People
3. A presentation of The Value to the Audience
4. The Crucial Information
5. The Highlights of Qualifications
6. Access to Key People

You may think that you need to do more and when you send a book to the media you can add other information, but really and truly, all I recommend people send to media at the very least is a copy of the news release and a copy of the book. The book data, (cost, publisher, isbn, length, size, etc) is given in the Crucial Information. We tend to be pretty successful when we do this. You do not need to throw the kitchen sink at media when you send a media kit. You do have to be selective and send them what they need to do the job you want done.

Once you write a 3 I technique news release, then you target your media. I use Cision for my client projects, it’s perhaps the largest online real time reasonably maintained media database, and it now include newspapers, magazine, radio, tv and all sorts of online media and even associations. When I target, I focus on the message and ask who are the right media to receive this message? I also ask:

1. Who are your customers?
2. What do they read, watch or listen to?
>> Particularly when they are receptive to learning and are open to taking action.

This last little tweak to this question is crucial. There’s a big financial ROI difference one gets by getting a review or an article in a newspaper of general circulation compared to getting the exact same article in front of a topical newsletter with far fewer readers, but they are dedicated professionals with money and a desire to improve their lives and livelihood. The latter tends to outsell the former.

You have to communicate meaningfully with media decision makers. These days I use email to custom targeted media lists. You can also use fax, phone calls, street mail and in-person communication to present a pitch and a proposal. These are what I call direct contact methods.

There are lots of other less effective methods and places you can place your messages. Some are more direct than others. I mean there are web sites, blogs, media sites, libraries, wiki’s forums, ezines, discussion groups, and audio, video, podcasts, and now there’s social media and specialized search engines for all the above. To meaningfully communicate means you news release becomes a landing page and you use email, headlines, snippets, slices, blinks and tweets to get people to go to that landing page. Being persuasive now is a complicated process. The technology requires you to format the message to match the medium. If you don’t meet the media’s needs, then you won’t get coverage.

The online news release posting services (free and fee) are not as direct as email and other direct contact methods. They often times are just web based storage, with searchable links, based not on content but on headlines. Real decision making journalists will not receive these communications unless they find them first. I’m not impressed with the media coverage that my clients and I have experienced using the more passive methods.

The lesson learned here is that the more attenuated the technology, the greater the number of steps, the less likely it is that the right media person will receive a meaningful communication, and you are thus less likely to succeed.

You can read my book Trash Proof News Releases if you want to learn more about this style of doing news releases. It’s a free download at Smashwords. Book page to download Trash Proof News Releases Smashwords edition:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5921

Ten Essential Facts Needed in Your News Release to Get Publicity for a Book Award

Ten Essential Facts Needed in Your News Release to Get Publicity for a Book Award

Congratulations – You’ve Won a Book Award.

If you are going to create a news release and seek publicity for your award, then here my suggestions on the essential facts you need to include in your copy:

1. headline – Author wins prize/award

2. one sentence killer – knock their socks off description of what the book is about

3. unusual or interesting facts about the situation/the book/the author/the topic/the issues

4. the specifics of the award – what, where when, or how much and why is this award so important and prestigious

5. three to four paragraphs about the book, who it features, what’s amazing about it, why people will like it

6. basic book facts and marketing information so people can find it and buy it

7. author bio and information

8. book cover photo and author photo

9. contact information

10. offer for review copy and interviews if you want to offer these items.

Finally, once you have the news release written, it needs to be distributed to the right media.

Proper targeting will maximize your chances of getting the right type of coverage in front of the people you can interest and help the most. So a childrens book needs to go to childrens media and editors, and a travel book needs to go to travel book media and editors and so forth.

You’ve worked hard to get this award. I hope this helps you take a few more steps in a positive direction so you can make the most of it.

What is a News Release? Really!

What is a News Release? Really!

So much confusion over this simple question. Here’s my definition of a news release:

A written proposal:

– containing a request for media coverage

– and/or an offer to provide media the content needed to achieve that end.

A news release is either sent directly to media decision makers directly (e.g., by fax, email, street mail, etc.) or placed where they can find it and use it (as when it is posted to a news search engine using a news release distribution service).

A news release is not an advertisement. You do not pay for coverage and do not control what the media says. It is a document that persuades media to give you media coverage. Your degree of success is often based on how much of what you give them to do their job is actually used.

You must provide media with information that matches what they are accustomed to publishing (or producing). Usually this means the content must be news, education or entertainment, or opinion or commentary.

If you have a different objective, then perhaps you should not be thinking what you are writing or need to write is a news release at all.

It’s OK to have a different objective. There are other types of marcom (marketing communications) you can choose to achieve a goal. It also means your target audience is not likely to be media people. You will need a different targeted list of people to match your objective.

But if publicity in media is what you want, you write a news release.

A Book Publicity Success Story for a book published over ten years ago

A Book Publicity PR Success Story - about a book published over ten years ago

I just had to share this one hot off the press.

About a month ago I wrote a news release for client Susan Casey, author of the book Women Invent! The book was first published in 1997.

I decided to create a feature story and I worked with the author to develop quality detailed content with an offer of photos highlighting the accomplishments and achievements of famous women inventors from the past 100 plus years. We sent out the news release email html in early February to a custom list of science, education, and women’s media nationwide.

Here’s the link to the article published yesterday March 31, 2009 in Fast Company Magazine:

http://www.fastcompany.com/article/some-greatest-inventors-were-women

Lesson learned – the age of the book doesn’t matter. Galvanizing content and timeliness matters.

March is Women’s History Month.

Good to the last drop!

If anyone wants to see the news release pdf file please send me an email.

Paul J. Krupin – Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message
http://www.DirectContactPR.com Paul@DirectContactPR.com
800-457-8746 509-545-2707
http://blog.directcontactpr.com/

Boiler Plate for a News Release

Guidance to a novice self publisher about writing a news release

A new author self-publisher on the Self-Publishing Yahoo list wrote:

> Can anybody direct me to a boiler plate for a press release that I
> can use to create my own? I have heard a variety of different things
> should be included. Most say that it should be only one page and
> other say it should be three to four pages. I would like it to be
> brief and to the point and something I can send out via email to a
> variety of sources. … I need to get this done in the next couple of days
> because my book will be back from the typesetter by then to go to
> Amazon, so I truthfully don’t have the time, nor the money to be
> purchasing several books and wading through them.”

Goodness, this looks like you’re hopping on the first and fastest and cheapest train to go by without looking where you are going. You run a real risk of ending up somewhere down the river with no hope of getting where you really want to go. Are you really hoping this will help you achieve publicity and publishing success?

I urge you to slow down and first really take the time to create a marketing message that truly inspires people to take the action you want. Learn to walk and talk with people about your book and learn to sell and speak about your topic first. PR and news releases aren’t a guaranteed trip to the bank. You need to learn how to connect with the people that matter the most to you.

If you don’t really focus on creating a pitch that works and refining it until it reliably produces a good response (as in they buy into YOU and your book), then you will encounter failure no matter what media you present your boilerplate messages to and no matter what technology you use to spread the word.

On the other hand, if you do slow down you can create a short set of talking points that educates, entertains and galvanizes the people that you help the most. Then once you have proven that your MAR-COM works, you can use it in your news releases.

But this is what you need to do first and you can do this right at home with the people around you. What you say (or write) will depend on who you are trying to connect with, what they need (in the way of guidance or advice or inspiration or entertainment) that you can give them, so that you make such an impression on them that they want to buy what you have to offer.

To really figure out if you are ready to do publicity you might want to read the following:

The Magic of Business
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=105

If you are indeed ready and your goal is to persuade them you have valuable ideas that can help them, then I would recommend you emulate a problem solving tips article or a feature story article format, or a radio and TV interview format.

One of the most popular sections of my web site is the free news release samples — pdf file downloads of numerous types of news releases for you to use as models for your own efforts. You can find examples of news releases for you to use as models.

http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-downloads

Once you have a goal for a news release in mind, then you can use my 3 I Technique.

Create a Better News Release with “The 3 I Technique”
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=52

You may also want to go directly to the hot button theory article to get more insight and education in making the media fall in love with you.

The Hot Button Theory: Maximizing Media Response to Your News Releases
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=35

If you’ve never really written a news release or have experienced limited success when you do, you might benefit from reading the following articles:

Why News Releases Fail — The Most Common Reasons & What to Do About It
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=22

Press releases – which types of news releases really work the best?
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=122

Copywriting – The blood, sweat and tears of getting publicity
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=121

If you really don’t have the time and energy to put into doing your publicity yourself you may choose to work with a publicist.

Evaluating the Range of Publicity Options – Making the Right Decision for You
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=41

Finally – once you do create a news release you’ll need to then figure out how to transmit it to the right media. That’s where a good publicist can come in handy.

If you need help identifying who they are give me a call anytime, I help people in creating custom targeted media lists, book reviewer lists, and systematic action plans and tactics to identify the best web sites, newsletters, libraries, article repositories, blogs, forums, search engines, ezines, audio, video, radio sites and even social networking sites to contact to get the word out.

There are several other highly experience people on this list who can provide you with quality professional publicity guidance and assistance if you choose to make use of them. I highly recommend you take some time and do indeed read their books, study the articles at their web sites and contact them directly before you invest any more time and effort in your publishing endeavors so you avoid the personal pain and harsh financial impacts of failure.

One last little thought for you. I just am reading Reality Check, Guy Kawasaki’s newest book. I highly recommend this book to all serious business minded publishers, along with his previous book, The Art of the Start.

Chapter 41 is titled and devoted to DIY PR. He begins the chapter with a quote:

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.

~ Bill Gates.

Help and guidance for self publishers

Need to Know Guidance for Self Publishers

David Carnoy at CNET wrote a simply wonderful article describing the ins and out of self-publishing.

This well researched and experienced based article summarizes the state of the arti and should be mandatory reading for anyone and everyone contemplating the publishing of a book.

Self Publishing a Book: 25 Things You Need to Know.

Media Comments on Self-Published Books

Results of a media survey regarding self publishing and self published books

Every year for the past several years I’ve done a survey questionnaire of media and asked them to provide me with responses to several crucial questions. This year one of the questions I asked was “How do you feel about self published books?” The questionnaire was transmitted in early November and nearly all the responses were received by Nov 3 to 14, 2008. So the data is about a month old.

So here it is straight from the horses’ mouth. Media Comments about Self Published Books.

What follows is pure and unadulterated, fresh and very revealing responses from media in magazines, newspapers, radio, tv and news services and syndicates across in the US and Canada. I have not edited the responses at all. What they wrote to me is what you see.

Warning! It’s not a pretty picture. Self publishing is not viewed in a favorable way. You can understand why when you see what these people have seen and read what they wrote. But there is crucial business intelligence, perspective and valuable insight to be gained by studying these comments.

What this means is that if you choose to self publish, it’s very important that you be aware of these issues and do your best to create a quality product so that you don’t perpetuate the rather dismal perception people have of the self-publishing industry.

>>> The key lessons learned is simple: Write a good book. Make sure it is a really good book. And then do a really good job telling the right people you wrote a really good book. < < < Are you ready? Media Comments on Self-Published Books December 2008
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=127

Or as a pdf file:

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/mediacommentsonselfpublishedbo.pdf
Comments and discussion welcome!

New 2009 Publicity Planner helps authors and publishers create detailed roadmap of promotional and marketing activities

This unique publicity planner provides a month-at-a-glance roadmap to holidays throughout the year and identifies the lead time for each holiday.

Each year I create an annual publicity plan to help people look ahead and map out their ideas for acquiring publicity throughout the year.

The special design makes it easy to develop a detailed personalized framework of key dates and events so that you map out your strategy and ideas to promote your book or your writing in 2009.

The new planner for 2009 is now available as a free pdf file.

Anyone who is interested can send me an email at Paul@DirectContactPR.comand just ask me to send you the 2009 Publicity Planner

It is also available as a free download at my web site www.directcontactpr.com – look in the free downloads section for the Publicity Toolkits.

A newspaper book reviewer comments on self publishing

book reviewer discusses the top issues and challenges of self-publishing

This is a blog post from April 2008 but it’s a very good discussion by book editor and reviewer Kel Munger who writes for The Sacramento News & Review. The article delves many of the top issues discussed here at the self-publishing group and offers up a very astute perspective.

The title is: “I banish thee to PublishAmerica!”

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/bibliolatry/blogs/post?oid=659278

Great article. Wonderful blog post as examples go.

What to do when times are tough

thirteen ways to improve your chances of surviving tough times

This question was posted to one of the discussion lists I monitor. I just brainstormed this question and here’s what came to mind.

When time are tough:

1. Re-evaluate everything, top to bottom. Identify who are you best customers, your best income streams, your best products, your best services, whatever you have. Get the data and stare at it really hard. Make sure you truly understand what happens in each marketing process you use so that you can identify why customers buy what you sell and what you can control and influence by what you do.

2. Focus on only the most important sources of income. Analyze them until you can visualize every step and communication that produces these sales. Make sure that you spend more time protecting these income streams than anything else you do.

3. Document what works best. Make sure you have a real foundation to believe in. Identify the successful repetitious processes carefully. Make sure they are reliable and produce known results. Once you know which processes are producing what income, make intelligent mature choices as to where to stay and what to let go. Then do it. Change how you operate.

4. Zero in on what works, with whom, and explore what you can do to a. get repeat orders, b. get larger orders, c. get expanded orders – all from the same people. Make sure you identify your most important target audience and stay focused like a laser on them. Forget trying to sell to the world. Focus on your crucial niche. Stay there and get known for real value.

5. Look for host beneficiary opportunities. If you sold to a HQ office, go back and see if you can get them to endorse a referral to all the branch offices. Look for the opportunities and be creative with business proposals to leverage who you know and have performed well for already. Then pitch and pitch some more.

6. Ask for referrals. If you have existing relationships, contact them and ask them who they know and then outreach to them with your best and freshest offer. If you don’t identify the people in your target who can buy the most the fastest. Then contact them one at a time

7. Stop spending generically. Spend surgically. Make sure that you can document what happens when you invest in a process. Make sure the metrics mean something. Learn to sell your product or service. Really and truly learn what it takes to be successful. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

8. Stop communicating generically. Communicate surgically. Identify what you say that turns people on. Use these messages. Use technology to repeat these messages. If you don’t know, test, test, test till you do. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

9. Drop almost everything that’s not producing serious reliable income. Focus only on the big ticket items or the ones that have tremendous potential if successful. The Long Tail only produces for people with lots of customers and the ability to sell and profit from lots of other people’s products. If you are not one of them, you have to focus on what produces solid income for you. Make choices that matter.

10. Same goes for your direct communications with people, your PR communications and your marketing messages. Identify what you did and what you said that turned media and people on. That message is probably laden with psychological activators. Re-use it. Repeat what you did till it stops working. Don’t break something that doesn’t need fixing. But let the data tell you what’s the right thing to do. Get the data.

11. Communicate with your customers like you never have before. Talk to them about what’s going on and how you can help. Get to know them and the personas they exemplify. Learn where they hang with and where they hang out when they get information that influences what they buy. Then go to those places and study how things are done.

12. Help the people you can help the most. Look at your customers. Consider that each one is representative of other people with similar interests and problems. This is part of the miracle of the microcosm. Solve the problems of one, and you have a solution for many others with the same problem. Identify the barriers people face. A barrier is an opportunity for problem solving.

13. Once you define a successful script for communicating, then you can use all the available technologies to get the word out and share your knowledge. Remember GIGO – Garbage in, Garbage out – can be replaced with MIMO – Magic in Magic Out.

Paul J. Krupin – Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message
http://www.DirectContactPR.com Paul@DirectContactPR.com
800-457-8746 509-545-2707
http://blog.directcontactpr.com/