A lot has been said about making a connection with your readers. Different authors have different ways of doing this: some are extremely active on social media, others book extensive tours, and still others volunteer for writer organizations so they can be involved in a different way. If you want your readers to know you, then it's important to find your own way to connect. Forcing face to face events when they cause you panic attacks might not be the best strategy. Maybe a newsletter is more up your alley. Maybe you're more comfortable joining a discussion on GoodReads. Find your own method and then employ it. Most importantly: be yourself.
Somewhere along the way, the concept of networking became synonymous with eighties power lunches, business card swapping, and I'll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine behavior. Contacts met at social event were sized up quickly, assessed by what they could offer. The intimidation factor for newbies to the playground was huge. So power players traded favors and got more powerful and a whole bunch of people watched from the sidelines and thought, why won't anybody help me?
Most people assume the reason to send press releases is because you want to tell the press about your book. This is slightly erroneous. You don't want to tell the press about your book. You want to interest the press in sharing the news of your book with their market. See the difference?
Pretend you are a purple cow. You wrote a book called I Am A Purple Cow. Would you send your press release to a publication called For Blue Chickens Only? If you did, would you expect them to be interested in your news? Why? Their readers are blue chickens. They are exclusive enough that they have a magazine just for them. If their readers are interested in news about purple cows, they probably go elsewhere for that.
The key here is for your release to be about the story that the publication would want to run. Tailor your message to your audience. More work for you? Yes. Worth the effort? Yes.
To paraphrase Gelett Burgess: I never saw a purple cow, I never hope to see one; but I can tell you anyhow, if I met one who wrote a book called I Am a Purple Cow, I'd tell him not to send a press release to For Blue Chickens Only.
Ever thought about building your own media contact list? The idea can be overwhelming but your efforts can made a difference. Start with where you live. Make a list of every magazine, radio station, local internet and cable show around. Where do you get your local news? Now, try to find the contact person for each item on your list. Confirm the information you find. Remove those who ask not to be contacted again (that's only polite). Tackle one resource a day. It takes time, but the end result--your own media list to contact for events and news--will be worth it.
Opportunities will find you. Bloggers will invite you to guest post, conferences will ask you to moderate panels, volunteer organizations will encourage you to join the board. Say yes. Every little thing builds your reputation and helps you in the long run.
If you are a published author, or if you're planning to have a book out in the next year, you should ask yourself this question every day. Yep, every day, you should do something to let people know about your book, because you do not know which one of those contacts is going to mean something. You also need to brainstorm often because we all tend to shy away from the crazy ideas, but it's only after we've exhausted the usual ones that our brains are warmed up and we start seeing things that are outside of the box.
Every day: what have I done for my book today?
Keep your press release to one page. Include the following elements:
Press releases should be sent when you have something important to say. What's the story behind the story? Not "New Book," but rather "Former Designer Publishes Children's Book," or "Former Fashion Buyer Publishes Tenth Book." Identify the story behind the story to entice the media.