Authors and publishers know that to get their press releases read by the media they need a catchy or alluring subject line for the email carrying that press release. So how do you craft the perfect headline or subject line that makes others want to read the rest of what you wrote? Follow these 15 steps.
1. It needs to be short, especially a subject line for an email, so use words sparingly.
2. Take into consideration who is receiving the email—write for your targeted audience. An email to the media is not the same as an email to a friend or potential customer.
3. Forget what you know about the English language when it comes to writing headline copy—abbreviations and slang are in; lack of punctuation and syntax go out the window.
4. You can make a statement, a prediction, raise a question, state a statistic, report news, or use any number of vehicles to get one’s attention. Write a headline for each one and compare them.
5. The headline statement can be something bold: "President Obama's Healthcare Plan Will Pass, Says New Book".
6. The headline question can make the reader ponder: "Is the Federal Bailout Working? Asks Economist in New Book".
7. The headline statistic can paint a picture: "50% of Allergy Sufferers Can Be Helped, Says New Book".
8. News hits hard: "Diabetes Book Can Cure Millions".
9. Predictions have lots of latitude: "Republicans May Run a Celebrity in 2012, Says New Book".
10. Do not state something basic such as "Pitch idea” or “New Book” unless it’s followed by more info, such as, "Economist’s New Book Details Bush Missteps".
11. Using humor or the outrageous could work—but only if the subject matter or reader lends itself to that.
12. Referencing something in the news is always helpful: "King of Pop Is Gone, but Branding Expert Details How He’ll Live On".
13. Borrow popular language from other genres: A cookbook can be referenced using sports lingo: "Chef Nancy’s Chocolate Mouse Is a Home Run!" Or, sports can be discussed using business terms: "Pro Athletes Bankrupt Their Sport, Says Steroid Author".
14. Link your headline to things that matter most: love, death, health, wealth, fun, beauty, art, nature, education, children, etc.
15. Nothing works better than prefacing your story idea with one word: "EXCLUSIVE." Let someone have the first crack at a story and let them know they have a limited window of time to respond.
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This week Jonathan Fields of the Huffington Post posted an e-mail exchange he had with a publicist from a major house who was pitching a new self-help book. The publicist not only sent the same cookie-cutter release twice, but then engaged in an argument with Fields—the person he wants to be on his side—about why his outdated methods work for everyone else. Fields uses this almost unbelievable exchange as the starting point for an insightful commentary on book publicity as it should be today. You may have heard the basics of how publicity has changed already (broadcasting to old media doesn't work anymore, social media requires joining the conversation, etc), but the post is a graphic demonstration of what we hear all the time.
Fields, who wrote and promoted his own book, Career Renegade, also points out a truth that held for both himself and 4-Hour Workweek author Timothy Ferriss: mentions on top-notch blogs and other social media can do a lot more for book sales than advertising in national newspapers and magazines or even appearing on national television.
As further evidence of the power of conversation, some great points are made in the comments section of Fields's post, so check that out as well. HuffPost blogger Lisa Earle McLeod chimes in with a piece of wisdom we've given you already: it's critical for authors to understand how media and publicity work today. Depending on your publisher and/or publicist to do it all for you is a sure formula for weak sales.
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October is designated as National Reading Group Month by the Women's National Book Association. The mission of National Reading Group Month is to increase public awareness of the joy and value of shared reading. Special events are being held throughout the month in each of the association's 10 chapter cities: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Charlotte, N.C. These events are open to the public, so you might consider doing some mingling with reading group members if you live in one of these cities. If you do attend, consider preparing and bringing a discussion guide for your book, as well as some free copies of the book, to hand out.
As we’ve mentioned before, reading groups can be an effective way for authors to find a readership and build word of mouth. Reading groups love author contact and will be more inclined to select your book if you offer to participate in discussions in person or via audio/video conferencing.
If you can’t attend the National Reading Group Month events, here are a few other places to find and connect with reading groups:
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Publishers Weekly has announced the date of their first annual National Bookstore Day, which will take place on Saturday, November 7, 2009. This special day was designed to to celebrate bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores, but authors can also find ways to contribute. One suggestion is to offer free copies of your book to bookstores for use in promotional giveaways or raffles. If they stock your book, you could mention their bookstore event to your email list. You might also offer to contribute to free workshop or seminar series that your local bookstores might be planning for that day. Email PWEvents@reedbusiness.com for more information and to find other ways you can participate.
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The submission deadline for the Mom's Choice Awards® is just around the corner, so if you want to get the attention of the parents and educators of the world, listen up!
Authors of parenting guides, children’s books, and young adult novels know how beneficial a publicity campaign that strategically targets women can be. What better way to market your book to moms than to have an official Mom’s seal of approval? The Mom's Choice Awards represent a mark of distinction that parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers trust when selecting quality, family-friendly materials. Winning a Mom’s Choice Award is not only an honor for an author, but it brings its winners added benefits for their marketing and publicity campaigns, such as product reviews posted to Amazon.com and BN.com, a national media release, cooperative advertising opportunities, promotional opportunities at BookExpo America and ABC Kids Expo, product promotions via the Mom's Choice Awards website, great discounts on radio, television, and print campaigns, and much more!
The entry deadline for this year’s awards is October 1, 2009. All published books with copyright dates of 2007 to 2010 are eligible. Click here for more detailed information and entry guidelines.
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If you've started to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) for book promotion, which we recommend for most authors in varying degrees, you may find yourself wondering how you’re going to keep all of your profiles updated. As you start to add additional networks, posting the same thing in multiple places can begin to feel tedious and burdensome. Not to worry—there are, of course, online tools that can help you manage your online tools. Here are some free tools that allow you to easily post a single message to multiple social media accounts all at once:
For more information on the capabilities of these types of tools, check out this article from Computer World. Don’t let your online networks get the best of you!
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It’s more obvious than ever that the publishing industry is changing, and combined with the current retail slump, it is even more difficult to get independent books onto bookstore shelves. However, in addition to keeping your book distributor updated on your upcoming media appearances, there are some other things that you can do as an author to help make headway. One recommendation is to develop a strong following in your local community from which you can expand upon into other markets. Click here for some great tips from Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., on how to get in good with your local bookstores.
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Your website offers the unique ability to sell directly to consumers. However, not everyone is comfortable providing their credit card information on an unfamiliar website. People may also wish to use a rewards membership with their favorite bookseller to buy your book. Therefore, it is wise to supply multiple purchasing options in addition to your own personal online store.
Bookstores may also check your website to see if you are supporting them by including them as a purchase option, so if you want to give your distributor its best shot at getting a corporate buy for your book, be sure to include purchase links to the corporate bookstore chains. If you want to get support from the independent bookstore community, then you'd better also link to IndieBound. Of course, there is the bookselling beast that is Amazon.com, but be careful not to irritate bookstores by linking only to Amazon. Sign up for the affiliate programs of the aforementioned retailers for easy linking options and to get yourself an extra little piece of the pie.
Here are links to the most common bookseller affiliate programs:
If you want to build strong support in your local market, you might also consider linking to specific bookstore websites in your area. The more purchase options, the more likely your website visitors are to buy!
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We're teaming up with independent bookselling superstars BookPeople this August for the first-ever Austin Publishing University, a seminar series for authors and aspiring authors on how to get your book published efficiently and profitably.
If you're in the central Texas area, we'd love to have you join us on the first four Sundays in August at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar, Austin, Texas). Sessions cost $15 each or $45 for all four. Attendance is limited to 60 people per session. To reserve a seat call (512) 472-5050 or visit BookPeople.
It's going to be a fun, educational event—one we hope will untangle some of the complexities of getting a book produced, distributed, and marketed, as well as answer any questions on the publishing industry attendees have, whether basic or advanced. Be sure to visit our Facebook page, and if you're the Twittering type, you can tweet about Austin Publishing University with the hashtag #apu09.
Descriptions of the four sessions of APU after the jump.
SESSION 1 – Ins & Outs: The Industry Overview
Sunday, August 2, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
The publishing industry presents many business models for authors, each with its own set of pros and cons. This class will walk you through the industry and give you the tools you need to choose the best path for your project. Plus, you will gain a basic understanding of what it takes to successfully create and market content in the retail marketplace. Learn the ins and outs of traditional publishing, self-publishing, print-on-demand publishing, and hybrid models—and how to avoid publishing pitfalls along the way.
SESSION 2 – Hot Topic: Content is King
Sunday, August 9, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
So you know you want to write a book, but the blank page is glaring at you and you just don’t know how to begin. Come learn some useful techniques for structuring the writing process, getting past the terrifying first blank page, and presenting your ideas in a compelling and engaging manner.
SESSION 3 – Killer Covers: Boosting Sales by Design
Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Book jackets serve a number of purposes that are essential to the success of your book. This class will teach you how to make informed decisions about your covers by examining a variety of topics including genre appropriateness, the role of research, concept and tone, using photography and/or illustration, branding a series, endorsements, author photos, printing technology, retail durability, Amazon thumbnails, and design trends. We will closely analyze examples of various cover designs including award winning work.
SESSION 4 – Storming the Market: Online, On the Air, and On the Shelves
Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
As the old saying goes, it’s easy to write a book: Selling it is hard. This class will discuss how effective marketing strategies, combined with traditional publicity and new media, come together to create a successful book launch. We will review the basic timeline that you should follow, describing what to do before, during, and after your publishing date. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to get the perspective of veteran publishers and retailers from both us at Greenleaf Book Group and BookPeople.
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BookTour.com, the world's largest, 100% free directory of author events, recently announced that they have partnered with Amazon.com. Authors who list their tour dates on BookTour.com will now see those dates automatically appear on their corresponding Amazon Author Page. Check out author Daniel Silva’s Amazon page to see this in action. It's a great way to get even more exposure for your upcoming bookstore events. If you haven’t already signed up for a free BookTour.com account, now is the time! Click here to sign up.