Writing Press Releases: 7 DOs and DON’Ts

Ah! Writing press releases… They are foundational marketing communications documents that lay out the core elements of your story: your accomplishments, your discoveries, your new products, your news. When handled correctly, writing press releases can save you a lot of time and energy when relating with various audiences.

I write a press release when I’m ready to get serious about implementing my communications strategy. I usually begin drafting a press release right after I’ve established my marketing strategy, because with it, I can expand or support all my other communications messages.

Some people will adamantly tell you the press release is dead. I would politely disagree. It’s not, its purpose has just evolved. I write press releases mainly because they save me time when I’m asked to provide a summary of my news, company or update, etc. More importantly, a press release contains your “official” language–the wording that you want media (journalists, producers, podcasters or bloggers) to copy-and-paste into their text, so they don’t miscommunicate your main messages.

Let me be clear. I don’t think press releases will improve my ROI. It won’t–not directly, anyway. I don’t think journalists are hanging around just waiting to hear my news. They aren’t–no delusions of grandeur here!

Rachel Sprung wrote a lovely roundup for Hubspot of “When Press Releases Do (and Don’t) Help Your Marketing” in case you’re still not sure whether it’s worth your time to write a press release.

If you know you are ready  to write a press release, but still need some pointers on what to do and what not to do, you’re at the right place. So, without further ado…

Do consider your audience when writing press releases.

a press release contains your official language. Cynthia T. Luna Let’s consider first that a press release is a news release for the press. When I say “press” here, I am referring to those who consider themselves part of the fourth estate, such as reporters, journalists and freelancers for print media, producers for broadcast media, show hosts for podcasts and also bloggers. (Pretty long list!)

Knowing that, make sure you communicate the “news” in your press release clearly and prominently. Segment your long list of media so that you can target your press release with the hooks and angles that will grab their attention.

Also, news media (should you be so lucky to get their attention) are strapped for time, so keep your press release succinct. Try to stay between 200 and 500 words. If your press release is longer than this, you’re probably juggling two or more news messages worthy of their own releases. Or you’re trying to communicate to too many audiences with one missive.

Don’t write your press release in the first person.

In my many years freelancing, I have proofed and edited too many client press releases written entirely in the first person. This is a no-no for your press release. Blog posts? No problem. Formal letter or a personal email? Have at it. But for a press release: do not pass go in the first person.

If there is only one lesson you take away from this blog post, please let it be this: Do not ever write a press release entirely in the first person singular (“I”) or plural (“we”). Write your press release as if you’re on the outside, looking in. Write it as if you were a reporter for your favorite national newspaper and your editor gave you the assignment of writing the news article (between 200-500 words) about your latest book.

Think locally when writing press releases. Cynthia T. LunaRemember how time-strapped I said journalists are? Say you just sent out a press release that included some interesting data supporting Joe Journalist’s upcoming story. He tried to phone you, but you were on a flight to a seminar. He might just swipe a couple lines from your press release and cite that it was your official perspective. After all that’s what a press release is: an official announcement of your news to the press.

Do tailor your press release for your audience and front-load your news angle.

Even when you intend to release your updates to “the press”, you will still need to cherry pick your reporters, producers and bloggers by beat. Then tailor your news release to their focus. If you wrote and published a book about beauty tips while traveling, for instance, members of the media that focus on travel and/or beauty might be interested.

Don’t forget local media, associations, alma maters, and niche bloggers.

Don't play hard to get.While we’re on the subject of your audience and the media… Don’t forget to add audiences that are more interested in what’s happening in their backyards than in world news. So, think locally. Is there a used bookstore that hosts local writers? Have you shared your news with your schools? What about your local church? Or your neighborhood newspaper? Your university’s alumni association often manages some form of newsletter or means of informing your former classmates. Your “Libatiously Looping Ladies” get-together might surprise you! If any of them ever say, “How interesting! I’d love to share your news with my network,” give them your official press release. They will pass it on.

When writing press releases, do keep the inverted pyramid in mind.

Make sure the first two sentences of your press release are crystal clear. This means, come out with your news first and don’t keep your time-strapped news-hungry readers guessing. I use the Who-What-Where-When-How-Why model. Usually, it boils down to:

  • “Who is doing what” in the first sentence.
  • “When, where and how” can the release’s readers (or the media’s readers) benefit from the news in the second sentence.
  • And the third sentence (if you haven’t suavely integrated this in the first two sentences) handles why is this news relevant to the recipients and their readers. This is usually a reference to the newsworthiness of your release. For instance, you might write, “This is the first book to combine travel and beauty tips for black women traveling south of the equator”.

Here’s the idea behind writing a release with the inverted pyramid in mind: If a publication wanted to swipe your copy and publish it in their paper, they could simply hack off paragraphs from the bottom up without losing the meaning or context of your news. Technically, the first paragraph (the lead paragraph) should be sufficient information for the essence of the release’s news. Following paragraphs elaborate on key components, or provide color to your release.

Do include a quote or two.

Here is where you can use the first person. Include a quote by you, and make it count! Let’s say a blogger decided to write a post on beauty tips while traveling and stumbled on your recent press release through the internet. All she was looking for was a good quote from an expert on the subject matter. And she found your press release! Aren’t you glad you didn’t write, “We think make-up that travels well is great!” Instead you said something informed and knowledgeable. You might have said something like, “Our studies showed nine out of 10 women freshen up their make-up before landing. We were surprised to learn that mascara was the number one beauty product in women’s travel bags.” This is your chance to show your expertise. The blogger might swipe the quote, or might want to find out more about your studies and interview you.

Don’t play hard to get.

Assume your press release will be distributed and published far and wide. So, even if you don’t want to be stalked, do provide some means of contact for people who are interested in your news. Include your publishable and public business details, such as an email and web address.

Back in the day when press releases were submitted by telex, fax and mail, PR people used to include their contact information at the top of the page–after “For Immediate Release” and the date. Today, most media want their press releases by email. Don’t lose precious “preview language” (your awesome lead paragraph) with that language. Make sure you keep your contact information at the end.

That’s it — my top seven Dos and Don’ts for writing press releases.

Writing Press Releases: 7 DOs & DON'Ts / Cynthia T. Luna / LivinginCyn.comNo blog post would be complete without me sharing an example of one of my own press releases. Here is one I wrote for my alma maters, regarding the publication of The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy. I tailored this press release for each school I graduated from–so it included the name of the school, the college I graduated from, and my year of graduation. For my blog, I decided to leave this information a bit more general. Last, but not least, as a rule, I never email a press release without a pitch. So, usually, my customized release is copied and pasted at the bottom of my email and accompanies a pitch. This “alum release” was reposted (with a quick comment) in LinkedIn.

Hannah McKinnon: It’s almost impossible to be in this business… (e-Interview)

How’s that for a teaser headline to introduce a recently (traditionally) published author?

Hannah McKinnon actually finished that statement with less provocation: “…without being able to cope with critique”. As someone who wrote a book, found an agent to represent her and then scored a deal with a publishing house, she should know. Whether you’re an indie or traditionally-published author, critique is unavoidable–and perhaps entirely necessary, not only for being in this business, but also for success.

Some of you might recognize Hannah McKinnon’s name from her #WhatIf blog tour in June: Living in Cyn hosted a chapter from her debut novel, Time After Time. Now, we get to hear a little bit about who she is and her experiences becoming an author!

As usual, our questions are in grey and Hannah’s responses are in regular, black type. Read on!

Hannah McKinnon, Pinterest 1

Name/ Age/ Website… Hannah McKinnon, age 45, www.hannahmckinnonwriter.com

Where do you currently reside? I’ve lived in Oakville, Ontario (Canada) since mid-2010.

What’s your hometown/origin? There’s no short answer to that ☺

I was born in Stockport, near Manchester in the UK. When I was one, my parents moved the family to Switzerland (where my dad was born) and we lived in Interlaken for a number of years. When I was eight we moved to the Lake District in the UK, then back to Interlaken when I was eleven, where I stayed until I finished school. After that I lived in Geneva and Neuchâtel before moving to Canada in 2010.

So am I British, Swiss or Canadian? Well, my sense of humour is definitely British. I’m as timely as a Swiss train (oh, I love cheese too). And I like to think I’m as open and friendly as the Canadians. So that makes me all three!

Movie = bookYou mention on your website that you “decided to follow [your] oldest passion” and started writing at some point in your forties. Can you remember when you first re-discovered this passion? How did that happen? How did you know? I’d thought about writing a book for a number of years and had a couple of one-page drafts and outlines, but never found the time to do anything with them. The idea for Time After Time literally popped into my head one summer. The concept was so clear, I wrote the entire outline in under three hours. And that was it – I was hooked and knew I had to finish the novel.

Your debut novel, Time After Time, was just recently published (June 2016). Congrats! Can you share a synopsis? Thank you! It’s such an exciting time.

Time After Time (Amazon US, UK) is all about choices and the paths not taken. The protagonist, Hayley Cooper fantasizes about what her life would be like if only if she’d made different choices. It’s understandable; the past two years have been hell. She barely sees her kids, her boss is trying to sabotage her, and her marriage is falling apart. Burnt out, Hayley goes to sleep wishing for a different life. When she wakes up married to her first boyfriend, one she has not seen in over twenty years, she realizes there might be some truth in the saying “be careful what you wish for”.

So, over a single weekend, and just like Ebenezer Scrooge, Hayley gets to see her life on other side of the white picket fence – not just with her first ex, but with each of her past loves. The question is, is the grass always greener? And will she ever want to go home?

Many of my readers are writers. Some of them are self-publishing their works, while others are going the traditional route to publishing. It appears you have lucked out with the latter. Do you have any secrets to your success in landing a publisher/ agent? My writing course teacher, Brian Henry, once said, “There are three keys to getting published traditionally. You need a great manuscript, a healthy dose of luck, and buckets of perseverance. The good news is that, most of the time, two out of those three will suffice.”

Personally, I’d add a fourth item to the list; dealing with feedback. It’s almost impossible to be in this business without being able to cope with critique. At times it can be incredibly difficult to hear and accept, but when you do, it will make your writing stronger.

So what worked for me? I think my perseverance definitely paid off. I was absolutely determined to get an agent, and just as unwavering about getting a publishing deal. It was tough, I can’t deny it – the rejections, the waiting, the seemingly endless rounds of edits … But I didn’t give up because so many people had said the concept of Time After Time was a great one. Their encouragement kept me going.

I was also very lucky that Brian introduced me to The Rights Factory during one of his workshops, and that Cassandra Rodgers took a chance on a debut author.

So what about the other key, ‘a great manuscript’? I’d like the readers to be the judge of that.

Hannah McKinnon Pinterest 2

Looking back on the process of getting representation, could you say there was one thing you would do differently if you had known then what you now know? I wish I’d taken some writing courses earlier, and that I’d had my manuscript assessed by an independent editor before I submitted it to agents the first time around. To be honest, I was pretty arrogant in my “I read therefore I can write” attitude. Looking back, I’m not surprised in the least by the rejections I received. Actually, I cringe a little when I read the first draft of my manuscript.

On the other hand, ignorance can be bliss. If I’d known how long it would take to get this far, how many rounds of rejection – revision – rejection I’d go through, maybe I wouldn’t have had quite as much drive to persevere.

My readers and community are also very much interested in the writing process. How do you go about getting words on a page? Do you take a freestyle approach, just sit down and write–or are you methodical? A little bit of both. With the exception of Time After Time, I seem to come up with the beginnings and endings of stories, but am not entirely sure what will happen in the middle (and sometimes the endings change too).

I like to write a short outline, maybe a page or two, then jump right in. I’m not the most patient of people, so writing pages of detailed outlines really isn’t for me. If I get stuck with the story once I’ve started, then I’ll go back to the outline and work on it some more until I find the right direction to move in. And sometimes the characters take over, and lead me to plot points that hadn’t occurred to me, which is so much fun.

Some writers say they already know the story they want to tell before they’ve even written the first word. Others say writing the first draft of fiction is a process of discovery every time they sit down to write. How did Time After Time come about? The idea for Time After Time was crystal clear. I knew exactly what I wanted Hayley’s journey to be, and how the story should end. Having said that, if I compare the first draft to the final version, the essence of the story is still the same, but I added more layers, depth and complexity to the story and Hayley’s situation. I also interwove the past and present chapters far more for better pacing,

All of this wasn’t done alone, far from it. I had input first from family and friends, then my writing group, beta-readers, an independent editor and my agent. Everybody’s feedback shaped the story in one way or another, and I’m so grateful to work with such amazing people who share my passion for this book.

Could you describe a typical day for you? … And when in that day to you squeeze in writing time? I’m fortunate in that I work from home, and therefore have a lot of flexibility. During the week I’m up around 6am, preparing lunches for our three sons. Once they’ve left for school I’ll sort out pending correspondence, anything administrative, whether it’s for my husband’s electrical company the kids’ schools, personal finances, etc. I like to get all of that out of the way before I write – which sometimes means I don’t get to write anything!

I’ll stop writing when the boys come home in the afternoon, and will often continue once they’re in bed. I like to keep the weekends free for family time.

Do you ever experience writer’s block? What do you recommend to aspiring authors dealing with writer’s block? Oh, I’ve definitely been stuck a number of times. Various things have helped, such as going to the gym or out for a walk, skipping the chapter that’s proving to be difficult and working on the next, writing something completely different (a short story, for example), setting a timer for thirty minutes and writing without editing – even sleeping on it can help sometimes. It’s amazing what your subconscious will do for you if you simply let it be.

Do you have any new projects brewing at the moment? My second novel, working title THE SECRETS THAT MAKE US is with my agent and will be submitted to publishers within the coming weeks. I’ve also finished the first in a series of children’s early-grade chapter books (ages 6-9). Right now I’m working on two things – a middle-grade book (ages 9-12) and the outline of my next adult fiction novel.

Coffee or Tea? Tea with milk and 1 ¼ teaspoons of sugar (the ¼ is what makes it perfect!). Although a frothy, decaf cappuccino or an iced coffee are very welcome too.

Any questions you wish I’d ask you? I think you covered a lot of ground. Thank you! ☺

Connect With Hannah McKinnon!

Hannah McKinnon Writer #whatif book tour
Connect with Hannah McKinnon! Chat with us hashtag #WhatIf

You can connect with Starrene through the following links, or you can say Hi to her in the comments!

Time After Time is available for purchase at Amazon US, UK and other Amazon sites.

WANT TO BE A PART OF LIVINGINCYN’S E-INTERVIEW SERIES FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS?

e-interview with Starrene Rhett Rocque LivinginCyn.com / Cynthia T. LunaIf you’re a new or aspiring author — that is, you are actively working on your debut book, you plan on publishing, or you recently published your debut work — you qualify for an e-interview! Enter a comment below or send an email to cynthia [at] livingincyn [dot] com if you wish to participate in an e-interview. This series is slated for the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

NoteThere are links on this page that will lead you to Amazon.com. If you decide to make a purchase on Amazon as a result of clicking the link, I receive a small commission from your purchase. Find out more about affiliate links here. Thanks for your support. 

Starrene Rhett Rocque: I prefer to freestyle and just start with a character, e-interview

Perhaps it doesn’t come as a surprise to you that a person by the name of Starrene Rhett Rocque has been in and around show biz for years. So it seems only fitting that her debut novel, Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted (Amazon UK | DE | FR), is about a “jaded entertainment journalist” who gets caught up in a tangle involving an actor/rapper and an obsessive blogger.

We all know traditional media has been going through some serious identity issues over the past decade or more. The internet has made it possible for a whole host of hobby writers to break and redefine the rules of the fourth estate, wreaking havoc on those of us who have learned to conform to the “system” but also creating exciting opportunities for anyone trying to grab headlines. (No longer must we wait for someone to validate our words, our story!)

Starrene is an unabashed indie author who self-published her debut book (though she would consider “going trad” for her next book). As someone who also recently self-published her own nonfiction book, I was definitely interested in hearing Starrene’s take on the process and what motivated her to take that decision for herself. Feel free to leave your comments at the end of the interview. Starrene and I would love to hear from you!

Starrene Rhett Rocque interview Cynthia T. Luna LivinginCyn.com

Let’s hear it for Starrene Rhett Roque!

Age…33 (34 by the time this will run in August) US

Occupation/Aspiration (related website?)… Recovering journalist and aspiring copywriter, screenwriter, novelist, pole studio owner, and generally open to what good the universe may have in store for me (that is a lot to juggle, but I believe I can and will). I can be found at www.gangstarrgirl.com, gruntsandglam.com, and thehollywoodshuffle.com.

BloggersCantBeTrusted-Starrene-Rhett-Rocque-Cover
Amazon (US | UK| DE | FR)

Your debut novel, Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted, is now out and on Amazon. Congrats! Can you share a synopsis? Thank you, and yup. “Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted” (US | UK | DE | FR) follows Nyela Barnes, a jaded entertainment journalist who goes from writing the stories to becoming the story after getting involved with Olu Major, the hottest actor-turned-rapper in the game. Nyela must find out the identity of the anonymous gossip blogger, Chatty Abernathy, who is seemingly hell-bent on destroying her reputation by making up lies.

In a blog post (on www.GangStarrGirl.com – I love your blog, by the way) you mentioned that career burnout led you to writing this novel–and among lots of interesting tidbits, you noted that Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted started out as journal entries. At what point between journaling and beginning to write a novel did you know it was “time” to write a book? How long did this book take to write? It started when I couldn’t stop thinking about things that I had journaled throughout the day. A lot of the scenarios I wrote about just started to seem like they could really work as some type of script if I actually fictionalized events. Plus, the characters just started materializing and talking to me.

That’s the thing about journaling, at least for me, it’s a way to relieve stress, to write down hopes and dreams, complain without sounding like a broken record (since it’s just yourself and the universe), and to make fun of or lambast people who may have hurt me without actually having to face consequences lol, but also to meditate and to open me up to new ideas and energy, so that’s how the book just started to flow. I really believe that journaling or any kind of free writing can help with your creativity, not just with writing, but with other forms of art.

It took me about five years to write the book. At first it was hard for me to juggle working and setting schedules to write so I’d constantly start then stop, and then have to start over again because I’d forget what was happening and who the characters were. In 2014, I got more serious and began forcing myself to take at least 15 minutes a day to write something toward finishing the book.

Were you ever nervous while writing your book that, even though it was fiction and not a tell-all, the real people you have fictionalized into characters might recognize themselves? Did you have any tricks for getting past those concerns? It crossed my mind, but it doesn’t make me nervous. The reason why I’m not nervous is because even though I’m aware that people who read it may single out one specific person that a certain character may remind them of, that’s actually not the case. Most of the characters are exaggerated amalgamations of personality archetypes in the same genre. For example, there are a couple of relationship blogger/life coach types in the book, there are so many in real life that it could still be anyone.

Starrene Rhett Rocque "on journaling" with Cynthia T. Luna LivinginCyn.com

There are some events that were inspired by actual events and my thing with that is, without the exaggerations, these are things that happened (and still happens) so if someone gets mad at me, it’s like “it happened and people experienced it so what do you want me to do?” I hate to sound cold in that regard, but that is why we should be mindful of the impressions we leave on people. Plus, none of it is slander. It’s all satire.

Can you share a little bit about your writing process? Rituals you live/write by? My favorite read about how to construct a novel is by Stephen King. He wrote a book called, “On Writing,” and I noticed that I liked his writing process a lot. A lot of times, it’s suggested that you write an outline first and then write based on the outline. I prefer to freestyle and just start with a character and let them tell me where their day will go. Don’t get me wrong, outlines are very helpful and I actually ended up needing one once I finished BCBT to put things in better chronological perspective, but there was just something about Stephen King’s style that resonated with me.

As far as rituals, setting aside 15 minutes a day is tremendously helpful (that is actually a tip I picked up from Aliya S. King). It may not sound like a lot, but it adds up. You will also have moments where 15 minutes becomes an hour and so on.

You have also mentioned on your blog that you decided to self-publish. Good for you! (And congrats again — no small feat!!) What part of self-publishing was most difficult, what will/would you do differently a second time around? Lawd…thank you lol. I decided to self-publish just because after doing some research about the publishing world, I realized that I was already super burned out, so I just didn’t want to deal with anymore industry BS and politics.

The part of self-publishing that is most difficult is not having a budget or a team. Other than hiring an editor that one time lol, I really just have myself and then friends of course, who have been helpful, but I don’t want to burden anyone, especially when it’s not their job or obligation to help me. So, the hardest part is promoting yourself and getting the word out to your target market.

For the next time around, I’m actually considering going for a traditional publishing deal. I would like to have experience with both ends of the spectrum. That idea is always subject to change, but that’s where I am right now.

If you could step into a time machine and pay a visit to Starrene, 14 y.o., what would you tell her? Why? Wow, good question. I would tell her not to major in communications. At that time, 14-year-old me wanted to be a news anchor. I’d tell that version of myself to get a degree in something else, but work toward the journalism career she wanted by way of internships. I’d also tell her to start learning to let go because she will need a whole lot of forgiveness in life.  

What do you do when you’re not writing? When I’m not writing I’m teaching or taking pole classes and probably aerial hoop, or hanging out with the hubby.  

Starrene Rhett Rocque on traditional publishing with Cynthia T. Luna Living in Cyn

Any new projects you’re working on? Brainstorming more books! A lot of people have been wanting a follow up to “Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted.” I really enjoy those characters so I’m definitely trying to figure out what’s next for Olu and Nyela especially, and then Reiko and Felani were such good characters too. I think they need spinoffs as well.

I’m also preparing for motherhood. My first child will be arriving at the end of August, maybe even September.

Coffee or Tea? Tea!

Is there a question you wished I would pose to you? (or to anyone else? Whom?) No. This was actually thorough and enjoyable. Thanks for having me.

Thank you for being here — We’d love to have you back!

Connect With Starrene Rhett Rocque!

e-interview with Starrene Rhett Rocque LivinginCyn.com / Cynthia T. LunaYou can connect with Starrene through the following links, or you can say Hi to her in the comments!

“Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted” is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

WANT TO BE A PART OF LIVINGINCYN’S E-INTERVIEW SERIES FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS?

If you’re a new or aspiring author — that is, you are actively working on your debut book, you plan on publishing — or you recently published your debut work, you qualify for this e-interview series! Enter a comment below or send an email to cynthia [at] livingincyn [dot] com if you wish to participate in an e-interview. This series is slated for the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

Note: There are links on this page that will lead you to Amazon.com. If you decide to make a purchase on Amazon as a result of clicking the link, I receive a small commission from your purchase. Find out more about affiliate links here. Thanks for your support. 

6 Book Marketing Goals You Might Find Surprising!

One of the exercises I address in my latest book for aspiring authors handles goals-setting. As time ticked on and people shared their opinions about my success or lack of success, I grew more aware of how important setting goals for myself was. They’re really your only true measure of success.

When you’re publishing a book, you’re also putting a little bit of yourself “out there”. That can be a scary prospect, especially when you have an active inner critic. People will come forward and tell you what they think you should do with your project. They’ll also be telling you why they think what you’re doing works or doesn’t. While their tips may be well-intentioned, much of it won’t resonate with the goals you set for yourself. Please try and remember that–so you don’t let your inner critic get fueled up for an “I told you so!”.

Six Book Marketing Goals that may surprise you

A person I’ve worked with once told me that the best way to share is to show. It might be helpful for me to tell you what my own goals were for self-publishing:

  • GOAL ONE: To one day work for myself as an indie author and a freelancer. As some of you may know, I hold a full-time day job with a nearly three-hour daily commute. I also freelance in the evenings and over the weekends. You may already know that freelance work can be irregular with an irregular cash flow. Holding a steady full-time job for now is necessary for me — but it doesn’t mean I can’t write a book about what I know and share it with people (some of whom may even become prospective clients). This segues nicely into my next goal.
  • GOAL TWO: To create a business card for myself. I have been in marketing communications for several years across a range of sectors and fields. I knew that developing a marketing strategy for my WIP (work in progress) would include a sequence of steps to point me in the direction of what my message and talking points would be, so I wouldn’t run out of ideas for my blog, Twitter account and building my indie author business!
  • GOAL THREE: To be a published author. This sounds silly, I know, but it was important to me to officially have a book on the market, so I could check “get published” off my bucket list and put my inner critic to rest! “The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy” was low-hanging fruit for me in that I felt comfortable enough with its content to get it out the door. (I knew that drafting and editing my fiction would take more time, so I put that work on the back-burner.)

Have a practice run.

  • GOAL FOUR: To share the knowledge. One of the biggest traps I see a lot of people fall into when it comes to marketing is biting off more tactics than they can realistically chew. New applications and social media make marketing look easy, but there’s planning and a lot of work involved.

A strategy is an overarching guideline to help you in your approach to meeting your goal. For instance, if you’re in New York and your goal is to get to Hollywood, your strategy is to travel west. Your strategy is not to hitchhike, take a train and a plane and a bus. Those are tactics. Your tactics may be to apply all four means of getting there, but it could just as easily be one. Your situation and circumstances usually define what works best for you.

Developing a marketing strategy can help people see the bigger picture and take a leaner, less “busy” approach to implementing a regular drumbeat of “noise” for one’s product.

So, it just so happened that I had a really good idea of what I wanted to convey in my book and I managed to produce it quickly enough to meet my other above goals.

  • GOAL FIVE: To have a “practice run”. This relates loosely to “be a published author”. Because I had never actually published an ebook, I had no idea whether the timelines I was setting for myself were even realistic. I didn’t know how long it would take me to edit 60-plus pages of my own work, I didn’t even know how long it would take for someone else to do so. I also didn’t know a ton of things surrounding the beloved book-marketing behemoth, Amazon. (More on that in another blog post!)
  • GOAL SIX: To build an author platform with other authors, creatives and readers. Community-building is important to me, because it bolsters my own creativity and helps me keep motivated in keeping my blog going, my novel alive, and also my non-fiction growing. I am in frequent dialogue with my audience via email — and, no, we don’t always chat about marketing.

Goals-setting helped me see the bigger picture

A couple people recently expressed to me their main fear about publishing their debut books: that people are going to criticize it, or them. Well, I’ll share with you a little anecdote.

A few weeks after I had published my own book, I received a long email from a reader who enjoyed my book but noted that it ranked dismally low in Amazon. The person then wondered how I expected to sell any books with such a low ranking. Good question! How, indeed?

I’m not going to lie and tell you I didn’t feel like a failure upon reading this person’s observations. But the marketing communications person in me did the one thing she knew best: I returned to my marketing strategy and looked over my goals. What I found amazed me!

Set clear goals and see the bigger picture | LivinginCyn.com

Absolutely nowhere in my goals is “selling” books listed.

Selling books was an objective — or a measure — of a greater goal, but it was not why I set out to publish Write Your Marketing Strategy or even to write books. Ultimately, I set out to publish because I wanted to establish credibility for myself as an author and to support my plan to work for myself. Sure, selling books would be nice — but at $0.99 or $6.99 a book, I would still have to sell beaucoup books every month to pay the rent! (I think that’s pretty unrealistic (for me) with only one book/product in my sales portfolio!)

Setting the right goals helps put you in the right direction

To continue with my little anecdote… another couple weeks after the above-mentioned email, I received a completely unsolicited email from someone who was looking for someone who could conduct market research and then write a consumer report quickly and correctly!

She found me through social media. But thanks to my book, which she saw on my blog, I had practically scored the job before replying “Yes” to her email. Also, the earnings from that project represented way more than the revenue I would have projected for myself in the first year of sales.

Basically, the publication of that book is supporting my larger goal of building a writing business for myself.

6 Book Marketing Goals that may surprise you! by Cynthia T. Luna | LivinginCyn.comHow about you and your goals as a writer?

Why did you set out to write a book? What do your goals look like? Do your goals keep you motivated to keep writing?

Scroll down and let us know what your goals are/were for being a writer!

Megan Haskell’s Sanyare Gets A Makeover! Check out the series’ hot, new kick-ass covers!

LivinginCyn Bookish News, Author Updates

Recent B.R.A.G. medallion awardee and indie author, Megan Haskell, alerted me to the big news that her Sanyare book series just had a makeover! Living in Cyn hosted Megan Haskell and Sanyare: The Last Descendent (Book 1) on this blog a couple months ago. I’m a visual person, so my memory of the old covers conveyed subdued and earthy greens and blue. Nice, dark, but not entirely kick-ass. The new look has fiery oranges, yellows, ochres and gold. They practically burn on the screen with kick-assery!

The unveiling of her updated covers for Sanyare: The Last Descendant (UK)and its free prequel, Pixie Tamer (UK), serves as further evidence that Haskell is about to come out with a bigger, badder Book 2, Sanyare: The Heir Apparent. (I can’t wait!)

Sanyare’s new covers: Post-Makeover!

Sanyare: The Last Descendant (Book 1) by Megan Haskell

Sanyare: The Last Descendant (Book 1) – Book Description

Amazon (US | UK | CAN | DE | AUS )

A woman torn between honor and survival…

Raised in a realm where humans are no better than slaves, Rie Lhethannien has struggled for decades to earn a meager post in the High Court messenger service. Even training as an elite fighter isn’t enough to earn the respect she craves. Scorned by the high elves who rely on her loyalty, Rie’s closest allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side.

When she’s attacked on a routine delivery by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s martial prowess keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of an unmerciful king, Rie must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. With surprising help from a bastard prince and an ambitious blood sidhe, Rie searches for the truth behind the attack. The secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.

Sanyare: The Last Descendant is the first book in The Sanyare Chronicles, a fast-paced dark fantasy adventure. If you like kick-butt heroines and action-packed fantasy filled with mythological creatures, then you’ll love the first novel in Megan Haskell’s debut series. Start your journey across the nine faerie realms today!

Pixie Tamer by Megan Haskell

Pixie Tamer (Prequel to sanyare the last descendant, A short story) – book description

It’s Nuriel “Rie” Lhethannien’s twenty-fifth nameday. She should be celebrating her rise to maturity, not sweating in the training hall. But life isn’t fair, and humans aren’t equal to the elves, at least not in the High Court.

After losing a practice bout to the one man she wants to trust, Rie is thrown into the most challenging test of her life. Will the rewards outweigh the risks?

Pixie Tamer is the short story prequel to Sanyare: The Last Descendant, a dark fantasy adventure with epic themes and a new adult tone. The stories are complements, but can be read independently.

** You can get your free copy of Pixie Tamer by signing up to Megan’s newsletter

Why a makeover?

So, why the new look? The rampant rumors that Haskell is getting ready to release Book 2 were confirmed when the award-winning author wrote on her blog that she had submitted a final draft of her manuscript to her editor! It’s only a matter of weeks and months, now… And then, we get to see the new cover for Sanyare: The Heir Apparent (Book 2).

The cool thing about being an indie author is that you can make those sorts of calls. If you feel that the cover of your book isn’t fully meeting your readers’ or genre’s expectations (and therefore not selling as well as you’d like), then as an indie author, you can find a designer who can help you get it the way you want. A traditionally-published author who feels that way about their publisher’s decisions doesn’t typically have that luxury.

About the Author: Megan Haskell

MeganHaskellAuthorMegan Haskell is the author of the dark fantasy adventure, Sanyare: The Last Descendant, and Program Director for O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband, two young daughters, and one ridiculously energetic dog. You can find her on her website at www.MeganHaskell.com, www.OCWriters.Network, and Facebook.

Connect with Megan Haskell via Social Media

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