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August 2011

Seven Tips to Writing Effective Book News Releases

A major step toward generating free publicity for your book is writing and distributing effective and timely news releases. They can be relatively simple, yet enormously productive. By the way, think of them as "news" releases rather than "press" releases. The reason - electronic media do not necessarily consider themselves press.

A book news release is essentially a short news piece. It should tell the story behind your book, not just the story of your book. And as you build your story, here are some tips to help you.

  1. Create a "grabber" headline. Start with a provocative statement, a startling statistic, or an arresting question. With some clever wordsmithing, a good headline can provoke curiosity.
  2. Introduce the "five W's" within the first or second paragraph. Tell your readers the who, what, where, when, and why. Most editors are limited in space and if they have to cut something, it is usually from the bottom of your release until it fits the space they have.
  3. To be effective, a news release demands tight, snappy copy. As in all promotional writing, state a problem or concern with which the editor and readers can identify. Your book offers the solution.
  4. Include the author's credentials for writing this book. These should be condensed into one power-packed paragraph. You can adapt or use the bio you wrote for your book's cover.
  5. Provide information as to where your book may be purchased. Here you'll want to include the name and address of the publishing company, the retail price (plus any shipping charges). Also list your website.
  6. Limit the length. A release should never be more than two double-spaced typed pages. One page is even better. Sometimes you can use 1 1/2 line spacing to make it fit. To get some ideas as to spacing and layout, look at other book news releases.
  7. Include all pertinent statistics. List the book's title, subtitle, author, ISBN, LCCN, publishing date, number of pages, trim size, binding, and any back matter. Put it all in a little block at the beginning or end of the written text.

Send your news releases to magazines, newspapers and newsletters that reach groups who would have a natural interest in your book. Always be sure to cover your hometowm thoroughly. Don't overlook wholesalers, bookstores, catalogs, radio and even TV stations.

And remember, submitting news releases should be a saturation campaign. The more you send out, the better your chances.

[The above post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, fifth edition, co-authored by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.]

Selling Your Book to Libraries - What You Need to Know (Part 2)

[This is the second in a two-part series written by Dana Lynn Smith. The first part, published last week, discussed how libraries make book purchasing decisions. This post discusses the various types of libraries that exist and the types of books they purchase.]

Different types of libraries serve different audiences, so it is important to target your books to the right kind of libraries.

  • Public libraries cover a wide range of topics. They tend to be supportive of local and regional authors. Be sure to stress in your marketing materials if you are a local or regional author, or if your book has ties to the area.
  • Academic libraries cater to the needs of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff at universities and other educational institutions. Their collections focus on materials that students use in the preparation of course projects and reference materials used in scholarly research. Academic libraries also provide reading materials on topics such as careers, culture and current events, as well as fiction for recreational reading.
  • School libraries serve the K-12 educational market.
  • Special libraries cater to a specific clientele or focus on a particular subject area. Examples include corporate, legal, science, medical, religious, genealogy, government and military libraries.

For nonfiction books, librarians look for items that fill a gap in their collections. If the library doesn't already have a book about your topic, and they perceive an interest in that area, they will be more likely to buy. Try to position your book as the only one on a particular topic, even if it's a very narrow niche. I also helps to show why there is a demand for your topic - use statistics, surveys or other evidence.

You might want to search a library's online catalog for competing books before sending your marketing materials to them, so that you can point out how your book fills a gap in their collection.

Library books take a lot of abuse, so libraries prefer books that are sturdy. However, given the choice between a hardcover and paperback edition, many may choose the paperback because it is less expensive. Libraries generally will not purchase books with spiral binding, and they don't like books with "fill-in-the-blank" pages.

Finally, libraries prefer to purchase books that are cataloged using CIP (cataloging-in-publication) data. Your CIP data should be printed on the book's copyright page, and be sure to state in your promotional materials that you book has CIP or P-CIP data.

[Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletters and private coaching. To learn more about her free book marketing services, click on The Savvy Book Marketer.]

Selling Your Book to Libraries - What You Need to Know (Part 1)

[This is the first part of a two-part post, written by Dana Lynn Smith, that discusses how libraries make book purchasing decisions. The second part will be published next week.]

According to the Book Industry Study Group, libraries purchase nearly $2 billion worth of books each year. Libraries can be a good source of book sales, but it's important to know how to approach this viable market.

The process of selecting books and other materials for a library is called "collection development." Acquisitions librarians are responsible for ordering books once they are selected.

In large libraries, the librarian in charge of each subject area typically makes purchasing recommendations for their area, although there may be a collection development manager in charge of coordinating buying decisions. In small libraries, one person may make all of the book selection decisions and do the ordering.

Where do librarians learn about books?

Book purchasing decisions are based largely on reviews in the major book review journals. It's impossible for librarians to keep up with the huge volume of new books being published, and they value the screening process the the journals provide. To learn more about the review process and to find links to the library submission requirements, please click here.

Libraries are also influenced by requests from patrons, so driving consumer demand through your publicity efforts can also boost library book sales. Librarians also get information about books from catalogs and flyers received by mail, ads in journals, attending library tradeshows and searching online stores such as Amazon.com - so don't overlook these opportunities.

What about library budgets?

Many book purchases are made toward the beginning of the fiscal year, when libraries have a new budget, but most libraries buy books all year long. Public libraries are funded by local tax dollars, and they may receive state funding as well. Public universities usually receive state funding. Library funding is sometimes cut when government budgets are in a crunch. Some states, including California, Florida and Nevada have been hard hit by budget cuts in the past year. Other areas , such as Texas, are faring better.

In part-two of this series, we will discuss what type of books libraries purchase and how libraries can differ from one another in the audiences they serve and the topics they focus on.

[Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books theough her how-to guides, blog, newsletter and private coaching. To learn more about her free book marketing services, click on the The Savvy Book Marketer.]

Selling Your Book In Chain Stores - It's the Author, Not the Book

[The following post offers some great tips from Dan Poynter on how to grow your chain store book sales.]

Selling you book through chain stores is not easy. But if there is a way to get your book into the chains, it's through the back door.

To get started, go to a chain store in your local area and offer to conduct a mini seminar on your subject. We use to call these "autographings." Once the manager agrees, your first responsibility is to create a crowd for your event. Remember, the store is only providing the venue. They want you to bring in new customers.

Send an announcement to everyone in your email address book and ask your friends, relatives and colleagues to forward the announcement to anyone they know (within driving distance) who they believe would be interested in you or the subject.

Be sure there is an ample supply of your books at the store for your event. When you arrive at the store, proceed to the area and shelf where your book will be and look for other books very much like yours.

Take them back to the presentation/autographing area. When you speak, take time to hold up the other books and praise them. This puts your book in good company. If appropriate, you might say things such as, " This is one of the books that got me started in this business," or "This is a book I keep next to my dictionary for constant reference." Because of your reference, it's possible your audience may purchase not only your book, but may leave the store with two or more. Each person could spend $20.00 or they could spend $60.00. Sixty dollars will impress the store manager a lot more. And he or she will more likely want to stock your book.

If you had some success with your first presentation, go to another store in that same chain. Based on your previous performance, they may want you to make a presentation in their store. In fact, they may have already heard about you. The more stores in the chain you are successful at, the more likely the chain will want to stock your book.

If the chain makes a positive decision, don't be disappointed if the chain places your book in only a fraction of their stores. Each store is profiled, and the chain management knows what will sell best in each of their stores. For example, a business title may sell better in a downtown store while a book on parenting may be more successful in a suburban store. The chain will want to place your book in stores where it will move.

When it comes to selling books through stores, it's the author, not the book. Stores want authors who can sell books. Books don't sell themselves, authors sell books.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2, written by Dan Poynter.]

Book Marketing - 5 Tips to Help You Reach Your Goal

By guest author Jake Olvido.

A successful self-publishing author doesn't just come out of nowhere. As creative individuals, a self-published author must learn the art of discipline. After all, planning and executing an effective book marketing campaign is not an easy task. To improve your chances of success, begin by making and living with good work habits. The following tips may help you reach your goal.

1. Never get tired of expanding your knowledge. Learning doesn't stop when your book becomes published. Actually, this is the time when you need to make efforts to know more about how book marketing works. Learn from other self-published authors. Testimonies of failure and success can be a good source of learning and inspiration.

2. Treat your readers extra-special. Your readers make the most out of your writing career. They are the ones who trust you and your writing. So it's important to make your readers feel appreciated. You can do this by organizing events and activities that involve reader participation, like contests, promos, parties, etc.

3. Provide communication venues. Maintain a personal blog where you can easily update your readers about anything relevent to your book and your activities. It's a great way to initiate healthy conversations and build relationships with your readers.

4. Look for new places where you might be able to promote your book. For sure, books are found in libraries and bookstores. But where else can you find people holding and reading books? For example, you'll find people reading books in coffee shops, airports, salons, clinics - places where people have to wait. Waiting people will read just about anything.

5. A word about rejection. It's possible not everybody will love your book. But remember, rejection does not mean it's the end of the world. Continue to push forward. Strive harder. Rejection will sharpen your character. If you receive negative criticism, use it to form the basis for improvement.

Book marketing success cannot be guaranteed. However, maintaining good work habits can improve your chances.

[Jake Olvido is a book marketing specialists and can be contacted at BookWhirl.com.]