HAVE THEM EATING OUT OF YOUR HANDOUTS
One of the complaints I often hear from authors is that they can't seem to get their signings and book info into the public eye through the local newspapers. I don't have that problem, and I have taught several organizations in my area a few ideas on how this is accomplished.
I once was a lowly paid newspaper reporter. I remember days of looking for feature pieces to fill up the pages and make my editor happy. I also remember getting excruciating “press releases” from the public. Sometimes it was more work to rewrite them than to use them.
Now I work with newspapers in 4 counties in my area, as well as TV and radio. I'm instrumental in putting together the local authors program for the local library, so PR is a must. I learned a lot of techniques while doing PR for the local Sisters in Crime group. Here are my methods:
First, make a list of all media outlets in a 40 mile radius of the area where you will be speaking or signing. Call local libraries to find the local papers, use the Internet.
Call each outlet and ask for the name of the Features Editor. Hopefully, they will put you on the line with that person. If not, ask if Community News has a FAX number or email where they would like to receive announcements. If you send a FAX, have letterhead stationary. The library letterhead I use always gets a positive response.
When you send a FAX, never let it fall into the hands of whoever goes by the FAX machine. It can wind up in the general file or the trash. Always put the name of someone on staff so they will receive the paperwork. It may get lost on their desk, but at least it will make it there. Make the effort to change the name on each FAX you send. No generic “Features Editor” in the routing.
Even a small paper will feel good that you even think they have a designated person as a feature editor. Small papers struggle and deserve respect. Never make demands or be pushy or overbearing. But, remember, they need to fill their paper and you can make their job easier by knowing how to write an effective Community News release.
Tomorrow I'll share a sample press release.
Sunny Frazier has been publishing both fiction and nonfiction since 1972. She is a Navy veteran, earned a BA in Journalism, and wrote for a newspaper before joining the Fresno County Sheriff's Department. Her first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association. Where Angels Fear came out in April, 2009. Frazier is a member of the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime, as well as the Public Safety Writers Association.