So, you’ve written the book? Check.
And you’ve crafted a press release? Check.
And you’re ready to distribute it? Um….
Writers are notoriously bad a self-promotion. Unfortunately, the world won’t come to those who hit this common snag. After sending out a few emails, it can be discouraging to have your press release seem like a waste of time. Are journalists and media outlets actively ignoring your requests? How will you ever sell your books?
PR doesn’t have to be that way for persistent authors. In this article, we’ll take a look at a number of aspects of press release distribution for authors, for a DIY approach to hiring a company to handle the heavy lifting for you. Once you’re up to speed, you might look at marketing in a whole new way.
Press Release Distribution Simplified
Here’s how it works:
- You have written a book or a newsworthy event (i.e. book signing, speaking engagement) that you want publicized.
- You create a press release.
- Send out the press release to journalists and media outlets.
- The journalist pitches a story to its publication or freelance outlets, with the story written to appeal to the audience of the publication.
- Upon approval, the story is written about your book/newsworthy event.
It’s a symbiotic relationship, like a grouper and gobie fish!
What Goes Wrong?
Now, authors tend to get frustrated in two ways: they don’t tailor their approach to appeal to journalists, nor do they select the correct outlets for their work.
Let’s take a look at some ways to overcome this.
Tips for DIY Press Release Distribution
If you write it, they will come. Sometimes just the act of creating a new book or work can entice journalists to craft an article. Distribution of your press release doesn’t have to be an active role where authors track down journalists and send out 100’s of emails.
If you have a website with even a small amount of visitors, posting a press release on your website may have journalists coming to you for interviews, critiques, and so forth. This is especially true if your website is linked to social media and mailing lists.
That being said, it is a passive role and you won’t yield the same results as actively pursuing people to write about you. However, for a minimal amount of effort, you can get some results.
Contact Specific Journalists and Publications
Favor quality over quantity. Your newest non-fiction novel on the Civil War isn’t going to appeal to Dog Fancy unless there’s a specific correlation (ex. “The Heroism of Dogs in the Civil War”), so why blasting every press outlet out there?
Instead, focus on a few journalists who are experienced in covering your genre or industry, or have an open-minded audience for your work. Sending personalized press releases may be more effective than just slapping on a boilerplate and calling it a day. Remember, if you make the journalist’s life easier, they in turn will make your life easier—and a few books might get sold, to boot!
Go Beyond the Internet
Your press release isn’t just confined to the Internet. To differentiate yourself, you may consider sending a typed press release by post. Snail mail subconsciously says that you went the extra mile to get a journalist’s attention. You’re willing to meet them halfway with eager interviews. Even the journalist will regard you with a warmer rapport than just cold emails.
Putting a Name to a Face
Building rapport with journalists is crucial to getting your work read and books sold. However, hiding behind a computer screen and an email address is the least effective way to do this.
You increase your chances of your press release being read if you meet journalists in person, exchange business cards, shoot the breeze, or even discuss your newest book over drinks. The only problem is, where can you meet journalists?
Conventions or industry-related events are ways to rub elbows with journalists. The reason is that journalists are there for the same reasons: to meet you! Those events attract the newest, best, and most popular, which makes a journalist’s job easier. How you go about doing this is dependent on your social ability (and is beyond the scope of this article). But if you manage to strike up a conversation, mention your work.
Networking gets a bad rap for feeling forced and fake, but that’s because it is incredibly efficient. By telling someone you are going to send them an email about you work, you immediately stand out from the crowd of a full inbox on a Monday morning.
Sharing is Caring
It’s who you know.
Respect is a two-way street.
We’ve all heard these sayings.
Like the previous tip, relationship-building is the cornerstone of all PR. After all, when confronted between the familiar and the unfamiliar, most busy journalists will default to the path of least resistance.
After you’ve had your work published by any publication, be sure to give credit where credit is due. There’s a ripple effect to this approach, as other journalists (and the public) will take note of the traction that your latest project or development is gaining. Consequently, a journalist gets credit and praise for their work (journalism can be a thankless profession). This social media back-and-forth in turn triggers others to take notice, making it easier for the general public to recognize your work.
For the sake of efficiency, authors don’t have to go it alone. Press release distribution companies, both free and paid services, can take off the burden from authors who shy away from self-promotion.
Free Press Release Sites and Services
Free press release services are available for authors who don’t want to go it alone or to supplement their DIY efforts. Typically, these services post your press release under a tiered system: free distribution on their network of sites, but a paid service for more legitimate distribution to legitimate news and social media sources.
Looking for a free press release service online? The following may be able to solve your press release distribution needs:
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Services like these may be useful to get the word out, but it should be your goal to reach high-profile publications and relevant journalists. Measuring each of the listed services against this standard.
Some search engines have actually cracked down on some of the shadier black-hat practices of these free press release services. Your press release might actually work against you using these services, as your press release (and all other instances of it online) may be considered “spammy”.
How can you guarantee that your efforts aren’t wasted or work against you? That’s where paid press release services come in the picture.
Paid Press Release Sites and Services
Paying for press release distribution is a way of delegating your tasks of being a writer. These paid press release services focus on quality over quantity. To maintain their higher-status among journalists, they maintain a network of publications and key social media influencers. As a writer, you select categories of these sources to receive your press release. For journalists, these services are a godsend, helping separate the wheat from the chaff of the dozens of press releases they receive daily.
It’s up for debate which paid press release site is best for your purposes. However, eReleases.com may just be the solution to your PR woes. They maintain a network of over 100,000 contacts, media outlets and sources, including the Associated Press and PR Newswire. If the DIY method seems like too much, a paid service can help you free up your time to spend on what you do best: writing.