NEWS FLASH: Kim Heniadis is the randomly selected winner of yesterday’s gift pack!
Edith here, enjoying a warm end of winter. I invited Sisters in Crime pal and journalist Mo Walsh to tell us about how to write a press release. I’ve used her template several times with good results. She’s also a crack photographer, and always wears her grey reporter hat when she snaps photos at the New England Crime Bake. What I love about today’s post is that it’s … a press release!
Authors advised: ‘Your news release is not about you’
WEYMOUTH, MA—March 11, 2016—Authors looking to publicize their books and public events have more success with news releases that connect with their target readers and make it easy for editors to say Yes, according to mystery writer and veteran news reporter Maureen “Mo” Walsh.
“Your news release is not about you—it’s about why readers should care about you and your book. That’s what news or features editors think when deciding whether to use your release or, even better, assign a reporter to interview you,” said Walsh in a March 11 blog post at www.wickedcozyauthors.com.
Walsh has published short crime fiction in Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, Woman’s World, and five anthologies of Best New England Crime Stories from Level Best Books; and is a coauthor of the mystery trivia book A Miscellany of Murder (Adams Media, 2010). Walsh worked in advertising and public relations and now writes features for the Gatehouse Media New England newspapers.
She outlined three steps to writing an attention-getting news release:
- Create a Publicity Profile for your own use, listing everything you can think of about you, your book, your characters (they have connections, too); local, regional, and major media. Include a short bio (75 words) and a longer one (200 words), plus book cover blurbs and reviews. Walsh provided sample questions to create your profile.
From this, create the guts of your news release:
- Paragraph on notable award(s), brief description of series or protagonist, latest book title and plot.
- Paragraph quoting notable review(s).
- Paragraph with interesting author quote.
- Paragraph with brief bio, hitting most intriguing highlights.
- Author’s website.
After your news release, not in it, include:
- Hi-resolution author headshot with photo credit; JPEG photo of book cover(s).
- Not-for-publication phone numbers and email for media to contact.
- Learn Basic Newswriting Style and the upside-down pyramid structure. “Newsrooms are short on staff and time. Less work for the editor means a better chance your release will be used,” said Walsh. “Learn to layer news from the must-know details down and how to write a headline, a lead (or lede), and a nut graph, plus how to use quotes effectively.”
- Start with Connections You Have: hometown, alumni, employer or industry, special interests, religious or service organizations, military service, etc. What publicity outlets can you tap through these connections? “Frame your news in terms of these relationships,” said Walsh. “You are not just Author X, you are ‘Long Beach native’ or ‘Gardening enthusiast’; ‘Clinical psychologist’ or ‘member of the Hull High School Class of 1996’. And be prepared for follow-up questions or interviews with details about those connections.” She provided a colorful graph of such connections.
This can all sound like very dull stuff, Walsh admitted. “It comes alive when you fill in all the blanks with lively description of your book and characters, interesting details about your life and interests, and quotes from reviews and your primary reader—you!” Walsh kindly provided some real-life press releases.
Mo will check in today to answer any questions or comment on any sample graphs you’d like to post. A past board member of Sisters in Crime New England, she is current VP of Mystery Writers of America-New England and works on publicity for the New England Crime Bake conference.
Readers: How did it go when you wrote a press release? Have you read or used good ones – or bad ones? What did you learn? Do ask Mo questions – she’s an expert!