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Author Topic: Do press releases work?  (Read 727 times)  

Offline sarahaustria

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Do press releases work?
« on: November 14, 2017, 02:40:19 AM »
Hello everyone,
I recently heard some suggestions on a couple Lynda.com courses & K Money Mastery that press releases are an effective way to market independently published e-books.  Specifically, Ive heard recommendations for 24-7 Press Release and Bostick Communications. 
What kind of experience have you had with press releases?  Are they really still relevant?  Do you get any traffic from them, and if so, do you have any tips?
Thanks for your help!

Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 05:33:05 AM »
The easy answer is: No.
It's more convoluted than that, though. If you have a hook for a newspaper, then it might actually not be a bad idea. Simply writing a book is not a hook, though. A hook would be something like writing a book on mental illness right after a mass shooting, or a specific cookbook right after some new study comes out about how kale is going to help you live forever. People too often make a mistake and believe writing a book is a hook. It's not. That's not a news story.

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Online ImaWriter

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 05:38:43 AM »
Don't waste your time/money. The best way to get traffic and attention is to write a good book, then write a few more.

You are going to need to market and promo your first book. There is a ton of info on that here, just search for it. You can look for things like launch threads.

Online Jena H

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 06:14:52 AM »
I sent out a number of press releases for one of my books a few years ago-- I thought I had a pretty good 'hook' to get them, well, hooked.  I never got any type of response--it was probably like shouting your message at a rock concert--but on the other hand, the whole process of researching press releases and writing one was a pretty good exercise.

So, bottom line:  press releases didn't work for me, but if nothing else it was good mental exercise.  And I'm not going to lie, I think I'll revisit the idea again in a few months.  The bulk of the work is now already done, and it doesn't cost anything but a lazy evening to send out some releases.
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Online ilamont

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 06:34:32 AM »
Only if they get noticed by the target audience - journalists and certain professionals in the book industry (more on that below).

The self-serve press release distribution services are a waste of money. In the past, I've used the big names for business consulting clients and one of the indie services for my book business. Even supposedly reputable services like PR Newswire with great lists have a terrible response rate, because there's just not that many journalists available or interested in writing up a standard product announcement unless it's involving a big name ... and those will usually use publicists, not a spray 'n pray approach. The best you can hope with the press release distribution services is a little search engine exposure on the newswire site and any other site that auto-republishes it, but frankly it's much better to have the release on your own site, where it's easy for people to find more info about the book and buy it.     

If you are using a publicist, he or she will draft a press release as part of a media kit they send around. You have a better chance of getting a response (they often have existing relationships with media outlets) but you'll pay a lot ... $1500-$5000 per month for at least 3 or 4 months is typical arrangement.

A few times I've encountered distributors or distribution channels that want to see evidence of your marketing plans, including press releases. In such cases, I've taken the release(s) that I publish on my website and stick it on some letterhead, and send it to them along with other materials they want to see (books sold, social media numbers, PPC and co-op advertising, etc.)

Good luck ... 

   

Offline sarahaustria

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 07:15:42 AM »
Thank you so much for your suggestions/thoughts regarding my question.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 07:59:12 AM »
Nobody cares about another self-published book. Self-published books are not news. The entire point of a press release is to announce something newsworthy.

That doesn't mean press releases can't work. It just means you need to be NEWSWORTHY. I wrote an article years ago on this topic that might clarify what is and isn't news.

http://www.bardsandsages.com/pressrelease.html

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 09:00:49 AM »
When I worked as an editor at a newspaper, the only time I paid any attention to press releases was if they talked about the grand opening of a restaurant and free food, or I had a two-inch hole I had to fill on a page. In the latter situation, I'd browse through the stack of press releases until I found one that was vaguely interesting, edit it down to two inches, and stick it in.

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Offline Darren Kirby

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 09:16:20 AM »
Looks like I'm in the minority on this one.  I like and use press releases, though mostly locally versus nationally.  I've found that they are helpful in getting exposure for your titles, and I've had them lead to more interesting things that include wider exposure (including television for me).  But like all other marketing that you do, this is only 1 part of what should be your whole marketing plan for your books.  Lastly, they are free to submit and don't take much time to compose, so why wouldn't you give them a try?

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Online Jena H

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 09:27:58 AM »
Yes, as some have noted, just having written a book isn't enough to warrant being paid ANY attention by a newspaper, magazine, or other news outlet.  Hence the idea of having a hook-- something that ties your book (its subject, location, whatever) to that particular audience.  There has to be a reason for the publication to be interested.



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Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 09:59:34 AM »
I don't know if it's press release worthy, but when I publish my railroad book in paperback...I plan to see if a few local magazines/papers will mention it.  It's local history (non-fiction) and there might be some interest.  I also plan to donate a few copies to the library.  Other than that, not much newsworthy in my books. :)

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Offline Mark Gardner

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 10:11:53 AM »
My day job is in the broadcasting industry. We get 100s of press releases a week. 99% of them are immediately deleted. Often they aren't even looked at by a sentient.

As an author, I've sent press releases to colleagues in the same or adjacent industries that I already have relationships with, and they get chucked not because that person doesn't want to support me, but because they know that their editors would throw the press release away.

Unless you have a hot title, franchise, or property, press releases are essentially worthless.

Online LilyBLily

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2017, 10:22:51 AM »
I don't know if it's press release worthy, but when I publish my railroad book in paperback...I plan to see if a few local magazines/papers will mention it.  It's local history (non-fiction) and there might be some interest.  I also plan to donate a few copies to the library.  Other than that, not much newsworthy in my books. :)

If your railroad book is about actual railroads, don't forget there are lots of rabid railroad fans out there and they have their own networks of associations, online info loops, conferences, special events, hobby shops, and more.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2017, 10:34:29 AM »
No.

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Online Jena H

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2017, 10:40:49 AM »
My day job is in the broadcasting industry. We get 100s of press releases a week. 99% of them are immediately deleted. Often they aren't even looked at by a sentient.

As an author, I've sent press releases to colleagues in the same or adjacent industries that I already have relationships with, and they get chucked not because that person doesn't want to support me, but because they know that their editors would throw the press release away.

Unless you have a hot title, franchise, or property, press releases are essentially worthless.

So what type of subject line/header do you think has the best chance to catch someone's eye and perhaps merit an actual look (as opposed to being automatically trashed)?  I try to use that first line to tie my book to whatever the group's focus is; for example, for one city I invoked the name of the "inspiration" for the book, who happened to be linked closely with that city.  When pitching to another publication, I noted where the books are set:  "Local sites featured in series of books."  I figured the headline or subject line might be the only opportunity I get to grab someone's attention.
Jena

Offline Mark Gardner

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2017, 10:57:27 AM »
To be quite honest, unless you're sending it in care of someone there, it'll likely get trashed. You could try looking at the organization's org chart, and put their name in the subject, but the signal to noise ratio is difficult to overcome (just as we do in indie publishing.)

So what type of subject line/header do you think has the best chance to catch someone's eye and perhaps merit an actual look (as opposed to being automatically trashed)?  I try to use that first line to tie my book to whatever the group's focus is; for example, for one city I invoked the name of the "inspiration" for the book, who happened to be linked closely with that city.  When pitching to another publication, I noted where the books are set:  "Local sites featured in series of books."  I figured the headline or subject line might be the only opportunity I get to grab someone's attention.

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2017, 11:06:38 AM »
So what type of subject line/header do you think has the best chance to catch someone's eye and perhaps merit an actual look (as opposed to being automatically trashed)?  I try to use that first line to tie my book to whatever the group's focus is; for example, for one city I invoked the name of the "inspiration" for the book, who happened to be linked closely with that city.  When pitching to another publication, I noted where the books are set:  "Local sites featured in series of books."  I figured the headline or subject line might be the only opportunity I get to grab someone's attention.

Honestly, local tie in isn't really enough.
I work in news and have for 15 years and I trash tons of press releases. Unless it's actual breaking news or I can use the author as a source for a story I'm working on (this is usually nonfiction authors on a hot topic, and I can interview them as an expert),  it gets deleted.

Now for fiction... As a magazine editor, I've written about local authors. It was in a glossy city magazine and with a monthly personality profile section as a standing feature. If you have a magazine locally with a section like that, whether glossy or one of those free weeklies or neighborhood specific-publications, you might want to put your name out to the person who writes the column, because they are always looking for people. Still, you'll need a schtick when you contact them. Something that ties all of your work together, like "local author explores spooky local haunts in 12 book series" or "Crazy cat lady writes crazy novels for other crazy cat ladies!"

You get the idea. Something to make you memorable.

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Online SevenDays

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2017, 11:10:49 AM »
No one will care or be interested in a self-published book of unknown quality.

That's the cold, hard truth.


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Online Jena H

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2017, 11:13:09 AM »
To be quite honest, unless you're sending it in care of someone there, it'll likely get trashed. You could try looking at the organization's org chart, and put their name in the subject, but the signal to noise ratio is difficult to overcome (just as we do in indie publishing.)

Thanks for the info.  Yeah, I tried to get a person's name, when I could, but not always easy.  *shrug*  Oh well, even a shot in the dark sometimes hits the mark.      (<---  hey, I just made that up.   :P)

Honestly, local tie in isn't really enough.
I work in news and have for 15 years and I trash tons of press releases. Unless it's actual breaking news or I can use the author as a source for a story I'm working on (this is usually nonfiction authors on a hot topic, and I can interview them as an expert),  it gets deleted.

Now for fiction... As a magazine editor, I've written about local authors. It was in a glossy city magazine and with a monthly personality profile section as a standing feature. If you have a magazine locally with a section like that, whether glossy or one of those free weeklies or neighborhood specific-publications, you might want to put your name out to the person who writes the column, because they are always looking for people. Still, you'll need a schtick when you contact them. Something that ties all of your work together, like "local author explores spooky local haunts in 12 book series" or "Crazy cat lady writes crazy novels for other crazy cat ladies!"

You get the idea. Something to make you memorable.

Actually, I've been there, done that.  Contacted someone at the local paper who does the human interest stories, and he ended up contacting me about an article.  Sort of "local native writes about the area."  The piece was pretty good, and I even did the same thing with a neighboring city, for a column they do about local authors.  But even though I'm proud of both articles, the 'puff pieces' didn't lead to any increase in sales.  That's why I'm less interested in an interview/profile thing than an actual article about the books.
Jena

Offline thesmallprint

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2017, 11:20:13 AM »
Who knows what news is now? Even the news organisations cannot recognize news in the way the public look upon it.  "President condemns invasion of Alaska by Russians"

That ain't news. News is "President welcomes invasion of Alaska by Russians"

...oh, wait a minute . . .

Offline KateDanley

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2017, 02:06:52 PM »
Just to affirm what has been mentioned above, I spoke with a publicist once and she confirmed it really comes down to: "What about this story is newsworthy?"  Have you sold a million copies?  Have you won an award?  Have you gotten a film/television deal with a major player? 

THAT said... I once won a fancy award and one of the prizes was a publicity package.  She did an author interview and then reached out to the papers in my hometown and my school alumni magazine.  She also sent it out to various news outlets, and you know what?  The story was picked up.  I got emails and calls from friends across the nation mentioning they saw the story. Did it do a lot for sales?  Weeeeeell...  for the time and money, you're probably better off buying ads on AMS.  But the story did get  me into some libraries, and it raised my street cred, and the story of my success inspired some folks I knew to start writing and publishing their own books.

So, it wasn't so effective as far as sales went, but it did help my career in more ethereal ways which, I think, was beneficial in the long game.

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2017, 02:27:38 PM »
The only way they would work would be as a "backgrounder" provided as a back up to a specific pitch. Eg: a local radio show features new technology, you're a local author and your book features new technology you've researched. You call them up and pitch and they say "oh yeah send the release through for more info".

But as a general send out/wire service, it would be a no.


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Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: Do press releases work?
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2017, 04:39:04 PM »
If your railroad book is about actual railroads, don't forget there are lots of rabid railroad fans out there and they have their own networks of associations, online info loops, conferences, special events, hobby shops, and more.

It is about an actual electric railroad in the early 1900s.  Thank you, Lily. :)

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