Five Tips for Picking and Executing Author/Writer Press Release Announcements~!

Write it yourself, but watch out for Seomonsters~!

Writing a press release means following a very specific format. It’s not any harder than figuring out a submission format. There are a lot of examples on the web, but it’s a map, really, with five or six really specific parts. Here is a good example. It boils down to making your press release sound intelligible, but not jargony. It’s not a tweet. It’s not a status update. It’s not an email. It’s a 400-word newspaper article slash essay about what happened and why the reader should care and how to engage, if interested. Maybe no more than four to five hyperlinks, with an image is good. With a video link is better. Spell out any link URL, in case the link is disabled in some downstream venue.

Template

Press Release Elements

And don’t try to make it “SEO” that will just get it hidden from search engines, if it looks too obvious. There are a zillion articles about the decline of SEO techniques so you can read up on that separately.

How to pick a Press Release service?
As for picking which company you want distributing the document, perhaps you can inform yourself about how press releases are found. Try to “search” for something yourself  and figure out which press release leads you to what you want.

Pick your favorite publisher and try a phrase like “is proud to announce” with it. Once you begin finding actual press releases (not just bloggers or interviewers or pundits who read the release and are paraphrasing now), you can watch for patterns in the source name attribution as you search. The name below the title should be a clue — prweb, sbwire, emailwire, etc.

What’s the lesson here beyond “who does press releases about stuff I like?” It’s this: you can pay a fortune for a press release only to have it circulated through other PR services that just rebrand it. More about wholesaling in just a minute. Let’s first talk about where press releases get sent.

What is the “value add” of a press release service?
A press release at a minimum has to take your blurb and make it discoverable on the web. The “value add” for a press release service is supposed to be, “look who we send the press release service e-mail announcements to” …  That is the real value. But watch out, even then:

  • 40,000 emails equals 4,000 reads,
  • 4,000 reads equals 40 clicks,
  • 40 clicks equals 4 “follow through”

This engagement “rate of decay” is a real possibility. Think of your Pinterest/Instagram/Twitter email notifications? How many do you actually open? How many do you read? Do you go to the site? Repin? Repost? Retweet? Respond? To everything?

What do you expect to happen?
For you and your book – the punchline phrase above was “follow through”… But follow through to what? When someone reads your press release, what exactly do you want to happen? What is your engagement platform? A buy-click? A book home page at your publisher? How is your press release going to be any different than standing on a street corner holding out your book to maybe 50 different people saying, “$10!!” You’re just as likely to get maced, as to get a sale.

Make sure the call to action section of your press release is really specific.

What’s wholesale got to do with it?
Something else that should make you cautious: Let’s say you can order a press release service for, say, $69 … Did you you pass up a deal to get unlimited press releases for just $299/yr subscription? That is a sign that the service is used wholesale by other folks for bulk distribution. Oddly, the one company that is offering subscriptions is probably the company you want–even if you don’t take the subscription. Rather than the smaller service that will just come here anyway.

Let’s be specific:  Press Release Monkey might charge you $129 once, for you to write your own single press release. Maybe they get fifty people to do that every month.  Their income: $6500/month. They order re-distribution to three other wholesalers like PRBuzz.com ($300/yr), SBWire.com ($840/yr) and maybe go nuts and get Emailwire.com ($6,000/yr). All those subscriptions allow them to submit unlimited press releases. They have near the income in just one month to pay for their wholesale subscription expenses for a year. Put another way, they only need 50 or 60 customers a year to cover their bulk subscription expense, for as many press releases as they want . Yes they have other expenses and value add. But that seems lucrative…

How to follow up
To begin with, put a unique phrase in your release that doesn’t occur anywhere else, including your own work or the web or any other promotional material you manage. Let’s say, you pick the phrase “unsurpassed gusto and vigor” … Use that to search later (with the quotes, to get exact matches) to find how far the phrase (and therefore the press release) went into the searchable Internet. Maybe you have a reach of 500 sites. Not bad. Now test how far beyond your press release the news went, say into blogs, discussions, etc. So, search again, but exclude your wholesaler from the results using dashes. Like this: “unsurpassed gusto and vigor” -emailwire -sbwire -prbuzz …. You might be down to less than a dozen sites.

Are they good sites? A good reach? One can only hope.

Could you have just contacted them yourself? Ha-ha. There is no substitute for direct marketing~!

TL;DR
The five tips are:

  • It’s ok to let someone else write it, but you can learn to do it
  • SEO makes no difference
  • Get to know a few press releases first and how they are discovered
  • Choose the company carefully
  • Understand the company’s value add
  • Be clear on what you want to happen
  • Design the text so you can follow up

I say five tips because I can tell already you don’t like two of them. So pick your best five, get out there and go nuts.

 

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Those quaint old print publishers and their silly eBooks, too

I wanted to share the transcription from a talk given at Publishers Forum a few days ago:
http://publishingperspectives.com/2014/05/bridging-the-gap-why-publishings-future-is-at-risk/

So then, print and ebook publishers are doomed to become a niche solution? The most gripping analogy for me was something that I personally experienced: The desolation of books about software languages. They are all but gone, replaced not by eBooks, but by community-produced web apps, databases, wikis, etc. This is good. Personally, my (software book) needs were met more readily than by a print book (or any equally useless eBook transcription).

BDPI am thinking about how this applies to publishers like us. In general I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how, “gee, i wish we made money like the big publishers” or “gee, we NEED eBook versions of our magazine”… At the same time, all the reading we have been doing has led us to believe that there is little difference in the elements of supply chain production between a big 6 publisher and an independent publisher. Similarly, there are parallel paths available for distribution. The real rude awakening for any published writer is the requirement that they have to largely drive their own marketing–even big 6. But I digress.

Let’s stick to presses, specifically independent publishing. When you’re a journal first, Like Black Denim Lit, then a press, like Black Denim Press, I have to look twice to see how the presenter’s discussion of environmental pressures might manifest for a venue such as ours. Here’s my argument for how this might play out:

God Eye

Universe Annex’s Latest

Take the example of a venue in similar scope and reach (and even readership) such as “Universe Annex” (UA). This is a re-incarnation of Baen Publishing’s artsy, sci-fi journal Jim Baen’s Universe–filled with up-and-coming award-worthy (if not award winning) writers.

Take a look at UA today, and if you read through their submissions guidelines, you’ll recognize quickly that the magazine is fed completely on submissions that are cultivated by a writer’s forum that lives here Baen’s Bar.

Duotrope reports that the acceptance rate is about 1 in 15. All UA’s submissions are hosted in a public, free forum, for which anyone can have a reading password. Submissions are in one forum topic and work-shopped in another forum topic by writers and readers alike. Once the story is “good enough” (measured by community consensus) then the story is promoted to the formal electronic publication that is released six times a year (and the writer is paid a professional rate).

All by itself this work-shopping is not a unique idea. What is impressive is that this journal’s practices comes as an extension of a highly-regarded “writer’s publisher” such as Baen. Baen has always been a little different. And always good at marketing. And clearly outstanding at meeting the needs of its readers. And paying its writers.

***

All of this falls in the food-for-thought category–when considering any change in direction that our editorial practices or tools we might offer. I think the accomplishments of the UA submission process are unique and radically different than ours. Would it be the way for us to go over the next year? Maybe. Would it be the way to go over the next five years? Probably.

Similarly, how does the speaker’s predicted trend affect our print and eBook initiative? Is that trend more damaging than the marketing challenges faced, or is it a different take on the same symptom? In other words, is the way to increase print / eBook revenue to take a look at the reader’s interest in the format versus the reader’s interest in the content?

It could be argued that the entire presentation could be largely ignored with regard to Black Denim Lit, but it is distinctly more relevant when looking for success with our print / eBooks.

Thanks,
Christopher

How do we do eBook Distribution? Glad you asked…

What formats?

Every month we provide new stories, but did you know we compile these into a free eBook for eReaders? There’s EPUB, MOBI and PDF and more.

In stores, too?

We push these to all eReader storefronts. To do this, we use four channels: Smashwords, Amazon KDP, Google Play and Lulu. This covers every eReader, and then some.

How fast?

Note that it can take weeks for our monthly issue to appear in those catalogs, so if you are too impatient waiting for your issue, you do have the option of using the direct links to your favorite format, which you can “sideload” on your own. Once our monthly tasks in the four channels above are completed, then Nook is probably the first thing to show up. If they are not first in the eBook market, at least they can be first to market.

Can you keep it up?

It might not seem worth all the work to distribute monthly, so we make sure that every issue is at least 15,000 words. We’ll need your submissions for that, right? Hint, hint?

More information?

For exhaustive details on these channels please read, About Distribution, at the main site. Here are sample links for March, 2014.

Examples?


eBook (free)

eBook (free)

eBook (free)

eBook (free)

eBook (free)

eBook (free)

 

As a writer, why should I care?

Because, when you change from publishing in journals to publishing yourself, you’ll learn a lot about where your work is being read. I love graphs. Don’t you? Here is one about worldwide markets for all eBook sales:
Statistic: Global e-book revenue from 2009 to 2016*, by region (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

3 Writing Acceptances Sent; Adding Author’s Note; Got more?

Let’s face it, we’re getting stories we like, but we could use more submissions. You writers get personal feedback on every submission. It’s like we’re right there with you telling you, “No,” but holding your hand, while we do it. Doesn’t that sound nice? Creepy, you say? No.

We’d like the authors to have a chance to add a post-script to their piece and have it included. This isn’t original but we like it, so we’ll add it on a case-by-case basis. Just think how nice it is when Robert Osborne comes out and tells us a little context or backstory, before or after a film and it makes the viewer go, “Huh, wow, Bobby’s getting old.”

You know the drill: We’re calling writers for literary fiction short stories and flash fiction submissions at our journal bdlit.com … genre fiction is OK, too.

Cheers

Anecdote, Reminiscence and other Side Effects

Selecting first-person narrative is high-risk. Will you, the writer, create a first-person story that is anecdotal, reminiscent, exposition-heavy, didactic or …? Odds are: yes. Check out this example:

  • Narrative gives off this tone: “This is important because I remember it.”
  • Readers think: “Stop talking already. I’m trying to hear the story.”

Is this your story? If so, try shifting the narrative power to stealth mode. It more easily transports the reader without speed bumps, without authorial intrusion. Does “first-person” always fail?  Of course not. Just be objective about how your choice in relating your story either complicates or enhances the reading.

March Stories are Out! New from @davelaureate @t_morrissey @seanmmonaghan

March Stories are Out! New from @davelaureate @t_morrissey @seanmmonaghan

The Way to Shangri-La
David W. Landrum
“Your calling to live in an ashram and pursue a certain type of spiritual attainment is at an end. You have come on this pilgrimage to find new direction. Your calling has changed.”

Scent of Darkness 
Ted Morrissey
It seemed to absorb the dark of night so that in dawn’s twilight it appeared more than merely black but an actual void, an emptiness in the air that one might step through into another place altogether, like Alice’s rabbit-hole.

800 
Sean Monaghan
It is an old thing. The kind of machine that was innovative a hundred years ago, but now is pretty left behind. I like to keep it on hand just to see how the old markets are doing. They never do very well, but I still have money out there, locked away.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

David W. Landrum teaches Literature at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He has published over a hundred short stories in various journals and anthologies. His novel, The Sorceress of the Northern Seas, is available from Netherworld Books, UK, through Amazon; his novellas, Strange Brewand The Gallery are also available fromAmazon. The BDLit Stories by David W. Landrum: “The Way to Shangri-La – Issue #2, Mar, 2014. Also on: Goodreads. @davelaureate
Sean Monaghan works as an educator in a busy public library. His stories have appeared inPerihelionAurealis and The Colored Lens, among others. Website: SeanMonaghan.com. The BDLit Stories by Sean Monaghan: “800” – Issue #2, Mar, 2014. Also on: Goodreads. @seanmmonaghan
Ted Morrissey holds a Ph.D. in English studies and is an adjunct lecturer in English at University of Illinois Springfield and in the Writing and Publishing Program at Benedictine University Springfield, where he’s a reader for Quiddity international literary journal and public-radio program. He is the author of the novels An Untimely Frost and Men of Winter, as well as the novelette Figures in Blue. His short fiction has appeared in nearly twenty journals, including Glimmer Train StoriesThe Chariton Review, and PANK. He’s also published the monograph, The Beowulf Poet and His Real Monsters. Please see TedMorrissey.com for further information. The BDLit Stories by Ted Morrissey: “Scent of Darkness” – Issue #2, Mar, 2014. Also on: Goodreads. @t_morrissey