JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

How To Get You (And Your Novel) Into The Headlines

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In all the chatter among self and traditionally published authors about how to get your novel noticed by the book-reading public, one method has gotten short shrift lately. I’m talking about getting some media attention as in getting your novel into a headline in a newspaper or magazine, or even a short feature on TV News.

Advice dispensed in thousands of blogs and websites tends to focus on how to get reviews on Amazon, and Goodreads, and on top quality book blogs. Or how to best use Twitter or other social media to promote your novel without looking as if you’re spamming your followers. But little is actually written on how to get your novel noticed by the media.

Novel Headlines

Maybe it’s because a lot of young people think that newspapers, magazines and the Six O’Clock local TV news are a thing of the past. Yet, readers of books will usually read at least one newspaper or magazine, and usually a local one at that. And, they’ll watch the local TV news. Even so, when the new lineup of speakers for the Palm Beach Writers Group was published online recently, I looked at the first speaker, and thought: how quaint!

The speaker, Michele Dargan was scheduled to talk about How To Write a Press Release And Get It Noticed. Truth be told,  I hadn’t heard the term “press release” since leaving the noble profession of reporting for newspapers and tabloids a couple of decades ago.  I definitely had not thought about it in connection with promoting one’s novels — even though it was a press release from a bookstore about an author signing event  (mine) that got me this giant headline in the New York Times when my second novel, Delusion, was published.

Email Reporters Directly

Left to right: Marcia Chellis (co-founder PBWG), speaker Michele Dargan, & Cathy Helowicz, PBWG executive director

The crazy thing is, that it’s easier than ever these days to e-blast your press release ( news about your book, or an event associated with your book)  to dozens of reporters, editors and photo editors — without the need to hire a publicist or public relations company.  As Michele Dragan observed “all the people you need to contact are available through email on the internet.”

Michele, who was a journalist for 28 years, twenty of them on the Palm Beach Daily News (also known as the Shiny Sheet) and now runs her own public relations company, Michele Dragan Media told the writers’ group that she has created a list of newspapers and magazines together with the emails (and phone numbers) of reporters, editors and photo editors whom she has gotten to know personally on those publications.

 

Masthead Info

For authors who have no personal media contacts however, it is perhaps wisest to start with local press. For example, in my neighborhood on Long Island, I can pick up any number of local newspapers and many glossy giveaway magazines and look up the pages, known as mastheads, where they list the names and emails of their staff reporters and photographers. Pictured here are the mastheads of the Southampton Press, the local newspaper, and Dan’s Papers, a giveaway that covers all facets of life in the Hamptons. The mastheads show the emails of editors (senior, associate, features and photo.)

Most newspapers these days also include the emails or Twitter handles of their reporters or staff writers at the end of a news story or feature by that reporter. Local TV news stations also have links on their websites where you can share a story idea with their assignments desks.

7 Tips To Get Noticed

However, and this is a big however: Reporters and editors on publications get hundreds of emails with press releases daily. As Michele told the writers’ group, “you get so many press releases, you generally whip through the subject lines and go, delete, delete, delete.” So, what do you need to do to get noticed?

A catchy headline that tells a good story: Is there a story behind the writing of your book? Did you overcome a debilitating illness or disability? Is your novel based on the real-life experience of you or someone in your family? Did you fly to exotic destinations for research — and use them as a tax write-off? C’mon, you’re a writer. You can do this.

Know your territory and geographics: If you’re a Wellington author selling a local newspaper or magazine on a “local boy/girl makes good as mystery author” story make sure you contact the Wellington beat reporter of the Palm Beach Post and not the features editor of the Miami Herald.

Don’t bury the lede: “Get the facts up top: Who, What, Why, Where When,” says Michele. “Don’t tell me about a book launch and start with the weather at the location, or how the room will be decorated. A reporter who gets your email is not going to call you to get crucial information as to where the event is taking place.”

Keep it short: “A general rule is keep the press release to just one page.” Again reporters and editors don’t have the time to read pages and pages.

Include press release in body of email: Copy and paste your press release or flyer into the body of the email so that a reporter or editor does not have to open a Word document or click on a link.

Try to make it “timely or significant” : “Newspapers love anniversaries or events that are tied into other news stories,” said Michele.  For example, the capture of Florida’s clown killer a month ago could be linked to the launch of a thriller about a female murderer. Or tie your book to a specific local event or holiday.

Include contact info: Email, phone number and a website link are the most important.

Photo Credits: Cathy Helowicz

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Great wrap-up Joanna! You always manage to make great light of the important points.

    • Thanks Cathy. I think Michele made an important point about a way of getting attention for your work that seems to be neglected by a lot of authors these days. It’s a good idea to remember that reporters and editors on newspapers need to find a constant stream of ideas,and there’s no reason why you cant be the one to nudge them in your direction.

  2. What great advice. When my novel finally gets into print, I will definitely utilize this tactic to market the story.

    • It’s an easy one –especially if you focus on the local media, and even glossy magazine giveaways. I don’t know if you have many of those types of giveaways in your neck of the woods, but we have plenty of them on the east end of L.I.

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