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Copywriting Tips for News Releases

Writing News releases For Fiction Books

  by Paul J. Krupin

Writing News Releases for Fiction Books 

What a great string of posts. Sid Jackson asked:

How do you make "news" with a book of fiction? 

How do you write news releases for fiction books?

What a wonderful and important question. This post is excellent and I agree with the ideas that news releases should be different for feature editors and book review editors, and different again for radio and TV vs. print.

I think the range of possible answers is vast, although a number of clear patterns emerge when one studies the American media. Which approach will work best for you will depend on which media you are aiming at and what you have to offer.

Like everything else in life, to me there is no right answer, there is only the journey. And I believe that this particular journey will be different for each person who travels down the path. The destinations will be varied and endless. So I'm going to talk about the journey. 

Regardless of whether you write a non-fiction or fiction book, I think it is critical for anyone acting as a publicist to understand that when they send a news release they are asking for space (or air time for radio and TV), from a "fellow publisher" , albeit a highly successful one. 

Media are businesses that are based on subscriptions and advertising revenue in the case of print, or primarily advertising or donations in the case of radio and tv. 

They make all their content-based decisions based on their ever changing ideas of what their audience wants the most and likes the best, all to achieve financial success in their businesses. 

Their survival depends on their choice of information of interest to their particular audience. The better choices they make, the more money they make.

Print media publish newspapers and magazines and look for information. Day to day they will use the best information available for their particular subscribers. Their subscribers pay them to publish information in a particular way or on a particular subject.

Radio and TV are audio and visual entertainment media, so they look for the best entertainment. 

The producers compare what's available day after day and make decisions to use the best entertainment they can find based on their perceived understanding of what their particular audience wants and needs.

So when you pitch to media, you must cater to their specific needs. You study your target media and identify what they publish. You create a list or matrix of the identified needs, content, and style. Then you do a self-assessment, and identify what you can offer that satisfies these needs. 

When you create and pitch the content in the style that a media typically uses, you save them tremendous time and effort, and you make their decision to use your material over some one else’s much easier to make. 

You goal in crafting a news release is to out-compete all others. 

Content wise, you must remember the differences between the media:

Print wants the best information. Radio and TV want to be told why you have the best entertainment. 

Notice the difference: To the specific information or topic is of lesser importance than it's entertainment value to the producer. Print speaks to the head. Print requires more written words -- it is intellectual and focuses on getting you to think. 

Radio and TV speak to the stomach. Radio and TV focus on provoking emotional response. They speak to your heart and soul. 

Did you know that radio provides out-pulls print and tv when it comes to motivating people?

Did you know that more people respond to audio speech than written speech? Did you know who proved this point better than anyone else in the entire 20th Century?

Adolph Hitler. His oratory motivated the German’s to start a World War.

Listen carefully to the speeches given by our President’s. Look at what the powerful emotions they can evoke with very few words. The speech writers are media masters. 

Ha! I know you may get bored after a few minutes, but oh well, they are the ones who are “on the air”, so pay attention as long as you can get something out of it. 

You can learn a lot by listening to others, and paying attention to the powerful and successful people around you, especially those who are featured in the media. Study what they do. Learn what they do. 

You can modify and improve your media success by learning from the masters all around you. They are in print everywhere you look, on the radio everywhere you go, and on tv day in and day out.

If you become a student of the media with the goal of improving your media success, you will seek to learn and apply what learn, especially if you focus on people who successfully pitched to media, and are now "on the air'.

When you pitch to media, you must ask yourself three simple questions:

What do they want?

What can I offer?

How can I present it so I can be more persuasive than others who are also vying for the space, or air time?

So if you have a fiction book, and want to find out ways of publicizing your book, what you must do is start studying the publicity that has been acquired by other fiction book authors.

You can once again use a technique I have described before. I call it the 3 I Technique:

1. Identify the success stories

2. Imitate the success stories

3. Innovate with your own information.

I've been criticized by some journalists for how apparently mechanical and potentially devoid of creativity this formula for success is, but believe me, it works. 

So start paying attention to what is out there. Head to the magazine rack. Open up the magazines you want to be in and identify the feature articles about fiction authors. Cut them out and create a scrap book. Then use these for ideas. 

Watch TV and listen to the radio and do the same thing. Tape the shows, watch them or listen to them several times, and learn the behaviors.

Accumulate enough examples from your particular target media that you can craft news angles, headlines, and content in a comparable style. Then prepare your own materials using the successful models and mentors as a guide.

There is another way to describe this process, which I get into in much more detail in my new Magic Search Word series. The process is this:

Search, Find, Match and Apply.

You search for the opportunity what you want.

You find that opportunity or a place where you think the opportunity exists.

You make sure what you can offer matches their needs.

And then you apply for to see if you can be selected for the opportunity you identified. 

This process works as well for searching for scholarships or jobs, as it does for getting contracts, agents, publishers, or publicity. 

I will bet that if you apply these techniques, a pattern will quickly emerge from your efforts that will clearly guide you to the type of articles you will wish for. The pattern that emerges will be one that is colored by your particular set of needs and desires, and by what type of book you have written.

The articles you find will tell you to the types of news release you will need to create to pitch this type of feature article story, or get interviews based on the themes you discover. Analyze them. Identify the content, length, style, and other characteristics of the information. Then create information about your book that parallels what you have found. 

I recommend that authors stay away from news releases that simply say "I've published a book and am marketing it....." It may get you local publicity, but you do not see too many feature articles that result in stellar book sales and movie deals. 

But if you pay attention, you'll see the types of things that turn your particular media on.

Many of you know I've developed a secret formula for publicity success, which I developed from rigorous assessment of other people's successes with the media, is in operation everywhere you look. It goes like this: 

"Tell me a story, give me a local news angle, touch my heart (make me laugh or cry), hit me in my pocketbook, teach me something I didn't know before, astound or amaze me, make my stomach turn over, or turn me on." 

You need to do this as many times as possible in a one page news release of 400 words or less, in 30 seconds or less. 

I guarantee you that if you learn how to do this, you will succeed in getting publicity. Easily and often.

You will still need to transmit your pitch to custom targeted media lists, but the job of writing your news release will be much simpler. You can do this one media at a time, or hundreds or thousands at a time. The reason this works is that believe it or not, media are human beings, and they tend to respond in a similar manner when stimulated appropriately. What turns one media on, is likely to turn other media on as well.

Look at TV, listen to radio, read the newspaper. You'll see what every media in the country does! They do this repeatedly -- cover to cover, day in day out. Study what you see, listen to and read. 

They copy each other! They cover the same or similar news. 

Americans love to be entertained, they love have their heart strings tugged, they want to save or make money and they like to be turned on. Some media focus on educating, some focus on shocking, while others use sleaze and cheese. 

This tactic works for print and it works for radio and tv. It has been proven again and again, and it works very, very well, for non-fiction and for fiction books. 

In particular, pay really close attention to the leaders. USA Today, and Associated Press, Knight-Ridder, Reuter's and the other major syndicates. Look at how they feature authors, both fiction and non-fiction. 

There's only one qualification, and that is your book has to be great. Even if it is great, fiction in my opinion, is very hard to pitch via fax or e-mail, but it can be done.

A recent success story:

Just a few weeks ago, M.K. Fottrell had us transmit a news release titled:

AUTHOR'S FIRST NOVEL RESONATES FOR FEBRUARY AND BEYOND The Color of Blood a Timely Choice for Black History Month -- for All 

The book is a mystery, a thriller a novel, a work of historical fiction, with social conscience. 

please place the words "MK Fottrell Release" in the subject line>.

We sent the news release out via e-mail to 1,700 editors, and she received over 20 requests for review copies and media kits, including several from major "national" magazines of note. 

In my opinion, she hit a home run on the first try, with an e-mail news release of 465 words. Her release followed my formula pretty well.

Or go to, and use a search string with the words:

"fiction books news releases" or "fiction books press releases". 

If you write romantic novels, use a search string with the words:

"romantic novels news releases" or "romantic novels press releases".

These searches will get you to web sites that post news releases. Some will be good, but my quick review tells me that most are not. Judge for yourself. 

I wrote an article in response to a post here about a year ago, which I will happily share, titled "Creating a USA Today Book Review News Release Using the 3 I Technique". This article does an analysis and dissection of USA Today book reviews. 

If you have a fiction book, this technique may give you some fresh new insights in to how to follow in the footsteps of those who have proceeded before you. You can adapt the technique to any media you aim at.