Today’s post is by freelance journalist and independent author Dana Sitar (@DanaSitar).
You’ve just released a book. You’re participating in a live reading. You’re planning a book tour.
While social media and blogs are a great way to share news with your audience, the value of a good article in print or online news media is undeniable.
From a journalist’s perspective, however, a lot of artists are tough to cover!
Your press releases are great to receive—as long as they’re on a topic I cover. But remember, your press release is written from the perspective of someone trying to sell or promote something, not by someone trying to cover the news. As someone trying to cover the news, I usually have more questions, and the first place I go to answer them is your website.
Some of the things I look for (and often don’t find) are:
This is Author Website 101, but still some forget it. If your contact information is not on your homepage, make sure the link to it is easy to find (e.g., have a tab clearly marked “Contact”). If I learn of your event or news on my own and want to follow up, I’ll be much happier if I don’t have to traipse through Google and Facebook to find your e-mail address or phone number.
More info on your big news
If you’re announcing an event, I want to see an events calendar or listing on your website with location, date, time, and who else is involved. If you’re announcing a book release, I want to see a “Books” page on your website with synopses and buy links. These are easy places for a reporter to go for more information and verify what’s in your press release. They’re also an opportunity for me to link back to your website if my article is published online.
A page for the press
You may not need this on your site at all times, but when you’ve got big news and you’re contacting press, create a page with all pertinent information. Whenever I release a book, my press page goes live with downloadable cover art, a headshot (with credit), a short bio, a short description of the book, my contact information, links to other articles about me, plus interviews I’ve done. Sticking this all in one place with a clear label not only helps someone you’ve reached out to, but it also indicates you have something worth reporting.
What you—the author—do
This seems implied, doesn’t it? Yet I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to write a story about a comedian whose website hasn’t been updated to include half of the shows he produces each month. As a writer, you might wear a lot of hats besides author of your most recent release. Don’t forget to mention the key things you do—teaching, speaking, blogging, consultation, editing—so the press and your readers can get to know you better.
If you have a website and you’re contacting press, you must be trying to promote something. When someone visits your site, that something should be clear. Have a clear step for people to take after they’ve found what they’re looking for. Do you want them to buy your book? Do you want them to follow your live tour? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Be sure that the action step is part of your message to the press, and that it’s clear and easy to follow from any point on your website.
Do you have any hard-won advice about dealing with the press, or scoring mentions in the media? Share your experiences in the comments.