Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to announce your book with an e-mail blast

What’s the best way to announce your book via e-mail?
I’ve received quite a few book announcement e-mails lately, including some that were trying to achieve “Amazon best-seller” status. Sadly, most of the messages were not very compelling. More often than not, they were self-congratulatory (“I’ve achieved my dream!”) or self-serving (“If you buy my book on Amazon at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning, my book might become a best-seller!”). Some were brief: “My new book is out. Here’s a link where you can buy it.” Others were rambling. None of them told me why I’d want to buy the book – what was in it for me, the reader.
I don’t want you to repeat the mistakes I keep seeing in my inbox, so I’m sharing seven tips that will help authors with any level of marketing experience write a book announcement e-mail message that isn’t obnoxious, annoying, offensive, or downright sad :
  1. Start with the text from your back book cover. It should tell us why we will want to buy your book, right? You might need to massage it to make it more personal, since e-mail is such an informal means of communicating.
  2. It’s not about you. It’s about the person you’re writing to. Tell me what your book will do for me. Will it educate, inform, entertain, enlighten? What’s in it for me? How will your book improve my world, help me improve someone else’s world, or help me forget about my world?
  3. Include a link where we can purchase the book. Seriously – you’d be surprised at how many messages omit this.
  4. Forget the “help me make my book an Amazon best-seller” plea. Unless you are my total BFF, I don’t care if your book is a best-seller. All I want to know is whether I’ll like or need your book or whether I know someone else who would like it. If you feel compelled to be focused on that best-seller-for-five-minutes-on-Amazon plan (and my newsletter readers know how I feel about these campaigns), at least share information about your book, too.
  5. Don’t come on too strong. You might suggest that it makes a nice gift, but don’t tell me that I “should” buy it for everybody on my holiday gift list. 
  6. Ask me to share your news with my networks. If I know people who will want to know about your book, I’ll help spread the word. But sometimes I need to be reminded.
  7. Remember that the quality of your announcement reflects the quality of your book, so make it as high-quality as you can. I received one this week that looked like a ransom note, with multiple fonts and sizes. And I know this wasn't what the author intended. You don't need to have a professionally designed, all-HTML'd-up message, but you do want something that reflects the quality of your book.
Send your announcement to as large a list as you can assemble, remembering that some people will be more interested in this news than others. And some are just naturally better at sharing and forwarding. And whatever you do, make this just the starting point for your book launch. There's lots more you could -- and "should" -- be doing.

Have you ever purchased a book based on an e-mail blast announcement? Why?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Be your own book publicist" course for authors runs September 6-October 1, 2010

I teach an e-course called "Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz" that helps authors learn how to be their own book publicists. It addresses the biggest challenges most authors encounter when they realize they have to handle their own book publicity and promotion. They are often overwhelmed by the prospect of getting the word out because they don't know where to begin and would rather be writing than promoting.

The typical author:
  • Struggles to figure out what to do first to promote or publicize the book.
  • Is uncomfortable with promoting and would rather remain in the background.
  • Doesn't know which activities will have the greatest impact on the book’s visibility.
  • Hesitates to use social networking tactics because they're not sure how to.
  • Doesn't quite understand why and how to schedule a virtual book tour.
  • Isn't sure how to approach and pitch traditional media outlets in the most appropriate way.
  • Might not be clear about the book's target audience or how to reach it through the media.
  • Wants to do as much as possible to publicize a book without spending thousands on a publicist.
  • Hears that getting on radio helps sells books but doesn't know how to do it -- or if it's a good idea for the book.
If any of this describes you, I can help you get over, under, or around all of your obstacles in this interactive and engaging four-week online course running September 6-October 1, 2010. It's taught in an easy-to-use forum where you will learn, practice, implement, and grow. Because you can come and go according to your own schedule -- whenever it's convenient for you, not me -- this option offers you maximum flexibility and learning potential.

Learn more about this very affordable and interactive course here (you can see testimonials from happy students there too); send me a note with questions.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't confuse NewsBasis with ProfNet or HARO

I recently learned about a new service that links journalists with sources. It's in Beta mode now, which allows test users to provide suggestions for making it more useful. I signed up as a journalist to use this service, NewsBasis, because I wanted to see how it worked and how it might differ from other services that are currently available, including ProfNet, a paid service, and HARO, a free one. I was intrigued enough by the site to invite founder Darryl Siry to do a Q&A here and he obliged. Here's our conversation.

What, exactly, is NewsBasis?

NewsBasis is a communications platform for journalists and companies to enable for effective and efficient media relations.

What is your goal for the service?

I'd like to be the standard technology platform for media relations, whether you are a journalist or on the other side of the table. We have a ways to go and lots of features to develop before we get there, but we are off to a good start.

How does a journalist use it?

Journalists can use our service in several ways:
  1. They can search our database for expert sources and company points of view, to find sources or story angles
  2. They can post specific requests to engage users. Users are notified based on their saved keywords or based on how the request matches their profile.
  3. They can use the platform for researching articles using the real time media notification and annotation functionality.
How does a publicist or corporate communicator use the service?

PR folks and company folks can use the service in the following ways:

  1. Embed their points of view in articles so that journalists can discover them when they search
  2. Respond to specific requests from journalists that match their interests or where they can be valuable
  3. Fill out their profiles so that Journalists find them in searches and NewsBasis can automatically route relevant requests to them.
  4. Discover relevant news articles in real time using our media notification service (in the "news" tab)
  5. Use the private annotation and sharing capabilities to collaborate within their teams.
Clearly, this service has more features than others. Why do you offer them – did you survey journalists about their needs, and did they request them?

It's a combination of my personal experiences and feedback from journalists, corporate comms folks and PR agency folks.

Do sources (companies, PR firms, etc.) pay a fee to access the journalist requests and if so, how much?

The service is free during the Beta. Eventually we will announce pricing for corporate and PR users but we expect the price to be very reasonable.

From what I can tell by clicking around the site, it uses a passive system. By that I mean that sources need to come to the site and search for opportunities they can contribute to. In contrast, other journalist-source matching services like ProfNet, HARO, and ReporterConnection push the queries out to the sources through e-mail messages. Tell me more about why you don’t connect your journalist and source users by e-mail. 

We want to focus on relevance above all. If you are a corporate user of NewsBasis, you can set up saved keywords so that any requests that match your saved keywords are routed to you by email. You can scan all requests on the site if you'd like but I think a better approach is to set up various keywords and make sure your profile is complete and very descriptive so you will be notified when something relevant is posted.

The site requires users to install Google Chrome. Why? Are you concerned that requiring that extra step will discourage some users who won’t want to install the software?

It doesn't require that you install Google Chrome - what it was doing was recommending to Internet Explorer users that they install a small program provided by Google called "Chrome Frame" to allow our application to work better in IE. Admittedly, this has caused some confusion for users and we are working right now to make this step unnecessary. Still, we think that everybody should use Chrome or Firefox, since they are far superior to IE and operate on open standards.

What’s the most important thing that publicity seekers need to know about NewsBasis?

That NewsBasis is not HARO or Profnet. It is a very different service that allows you to embed you or your client's point of view directly in articles. This is a powerful way to promote your thought leadership program or get your messages out.

Similarly, what’s the most important thing that journalists should know about it?

That NewsBasis is a resource that will make it easier for them to get their jobs done more easily and effectively.


I can't offer an opinion of the service because I haven't used it yet to find sources, but I'll note that it's more complicated and has far more "layers" than ProfNet, HARO, or ReporterConnection. I think those layers and features will be more appealing initially to very tech-savvy users. Those who are uncomfortable with technology might find the options intimidating and not take advantage of them. To sign up as either a journalist or a communicator hoping to connect with reporters, visit

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Viral "epic nervous breakdown" video helps startup get distribution

Counter to what many think, your business is never too small for major media exposure. That's why I like stories like this one about Vital Energy, an energy drink created by a couple of recent college grads who have been selling it into stores themselves. These guys created one of the funniest product videos I've ever seen and, as hoped, it has gone viral, with more than one million online views. The video is going to be featured on a TruTV cable show and is being considered for MTV's Pranked.

Haven't seen the "epic nervous breakdown" video starring the (poor) mother of one of the founders? (She is a friend of a friend, who tells me the mom is normally pretty calm.) Here it is:

Most of the press surrounding this adventure has been in the trade and local media, which is the ideal mix for the company at this stage. Local media exposure is crucial to getting local distribution, particularly in Wegmans supermarkets. Starting locally helps them get the bugs out of their systems and learn as they do. If the guys can get the drink into their local Wegmans stores, they can probably get it picked up in other Wegmans supermarkets throughout the Northeast.

The trade publication exposure supports their distribution efforts. They don't have much much conventional consumer media exposure yet, but that's OK -- before they get on Good Morning America or Regis & Kelly, they should have much more widespread distribution.

I suspect these guys have a lot to learn yet about product manufacturing, distribution, and marketing, but their product video is sheer genius. Congratulations to them. I hope they enjoy fabulous success and are in a position to mentor other young entrepreneurs in the future.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 6, 2010 is deadline for Nonproft PR Awards

The entry deadline for the Nonprofit PR Awards is August 6, so act quickly to submit your entry in categories ranging from from media relations to crisis management to corporate partnerships. This year's winners will be honored on November 3 at the National Press Club and featured in a special awards issue of PR News.

The awards are open to all associations, nonprofits, government agencies, NGOs and their agency partners.

The awards program is sponsored by PRWeb and presented by PR News. Please take a moment to thank them. Sponsors make the world go around.