C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

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Using mass press release distribution to let the world know about your books

Hi everyone. This post is meant to be a helpful preliminary review of a press release service you could use to promote your books. Then it devolves into a self-pitying, snarly, snarky rant in which a tiny, hairless pig feels threatened. No animals were harmed in the making of this post…I think. Okay, he may be psychologically wounded.

I’ve had an eventful week. I got to meet director Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes (of Jay & Silent Bob fame) and handed them each a copy of my book, Self-help for StonersNext, how to capitalize on that?

I tried to organize a confluence of events around the book.

It’s basically a fiction collection of dark suspense with a self-help twist. (Yes, not an easy categorization which is both an advantage and a curse.) I’d met Kevin Smith in unusual circumstances in that when I handed him the book, thousands of his fans were watching on movie theatre screens across North America. I didn’t think the press release would be as hard as it was, especially since my training is in journalism and I’ve seen hundreds of press releases (and dumped hundred of press releases in the wastebasket.)

Then a friend of mine convinced me I should send out a press release. Well…a bunch of them. I sent them to several CBC shows and my local newspaper. The local columnist bit and me and my books will be profiled. So there’s that.

Then I remembered PR Web.

It’s basically a press release distribution service. It cost me $240 and to meet their editorial guidelines was a real bitch. Their marketing guy assured me they work with authors “all the time”. Non-fiction authors, maybe. They gave me a lot of hassle about getting into the widest distribution channel. (They offered to let me print it the way I wanted, if I were to accept a smaller distribution channel. For $240? Hell, no! I kept banging my head against the wall four or five times and they kept pushing the goal posts back to get into that wider distribution channel.) Finally, today it went out and was reprinted verbatim on a major website. (ONE website so far with little appreciable increase in blog traffic or sales. So far. UPDATE: By the way, here’s the link for the final draft: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/578381. It’s not what I envisioned at all, but it’s okay I guess. )

On the other hand, it just went out this afternoon. It was delayed for “editorial reasons” They wanted it to be more newsy, fewer back links etc., no opinion… Basically they require that it look like any other press release, which isn’t what I was going for, but maybe I’m wrong and maybe they know what they’re doing. I’ll be the judge of that in coming days.

In the meantime, I have an ad running soon on the Smodcast Internet Radio network and one of the bits from my podcast (also called Self-help for Stoners cuz mama didn’t raise no dummy) will run on Succotash, a popular comedy clip show podcast. I just recorded a podcast today that will air Friday that details the whole experience meeting my DIY hero. The cult is into it.

And frankly, I am so tired of marketing! I normally don’t mind it, but with the PR Web delays and frustrations, I just want to crawl into bed with a coffee and write the next book uninterrupted, under the covers in my cowboy jammies with Alfred bringing me M&Ms (he brings the cape and cowl at midnight.)

This morning I screamed bad words at no one several times. The kids’ skinny pig is above my office and he probably shit himself in terror.

I haven’t finished my evaluation of PR Web yet, but I’d say go over their editorial guidelines to be sure you can meet them. As a fiction writer, it’s obviously difficult to be “newsy” enough. I had a very specific hook, several references to new technology (a first, in fact) and a major celebrity to piggyback the story. And they still didn’t zoom it through.

Even if I get a thousand hits tomorrow morning, here are the things I didn’t like:

the editorial person I spoke to on the phone wasn’t friendly (and I was… I only scream at empty rooms and tiny, terrified pigs); the marketing guy started out bouncy and helpful but then seemed anxious to dump me after he requested the draft (and his department couldn’t communicate with editorial); their user interface wasn’t all that intuitive; you pay before you can actually see the template you’re using to create the press release and they artificially delay the release of the news. (On that last point, I was concerned the information was getting more stale by the minute, but they make you pay more for the express line and I thought $240 was plenty, especially since $40 of that was to get a “star” to bump me up a list to improve visibility. Frustrating.)

I hope this helps someone here. Biggest issue for sure would be: being just another fiction author without a big hook. I had it and still encountered resistance I hadn’t anticipated that was a huge time drain.

Back to writing and revising…and lower blood pressure.*

 I wrote this post on Devin O’Branagan’s writer’s forum first, a couple of days ago and I’m sharing it here again for my blog readers.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, The Dangerous Kind, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun & profit). I’m in suspense, literally and figuratively.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses

  1. Jack Durish says:

    Honestly, I don’t think that anyone has mastered marketing in this new age of publishing. I can’t very well sit around a bookstore autographing copies of my eBook, now can I? I too have a PR background, but haven’t yet figured out how to apply it. Newspapers are dying like cockroaches in a Black Flag commercial. (I subscribe to the LA Times Sunday edition only and receive Thursday thru Saturday free to line the litter box and help fill the recycle bin.) Web journalism is divided among thousands of providers printing news from a dwindling source of news writers. I suspect that electronic media is best for reaching a significant audience, but they know they are and expect perqs for considering your release – God only knows what they want to actually disseminate it.

    Yes, it’s a new world and only the persistent will prevail.

    • Chazz says:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, it seems nigh impossible to catch lightning in a bottle unless we’re talking Jack Daniels. It’s been a couple days now and my evaluation update is this: I wouldn’t do it again. It was an experiment. It wasn’t a happy experience and the experiment didn’t work. On to the next experiment. I would never know for sure without trying.

      So, big shrug here, no further Monday morning quarterbacking needed from me, although ironically, I’m getting more traffic from writing about the failure of the PR experiment…which won’t translate to sales of my books, either. LOL!

  2. jvonbargen says:

    Good to know. I wasn’t keen on going that route anyway. I’m at the point where I just want to write and say what I have to say, then toss it out there and see where it lands. My faithful readers and their wonderful comments keep me stoked for the next one. My stuff probably wouldn’t appeal to the masses anyway. Would I like to make a living from it? Who wouldn’t? But the reality is I spend far too much time away from actual writing and the personal fulfillment that brings in finding newer and better ways to get it read. I feel close to being done with that. Let posterity find a piece of mine in a cobwebby archive somewhere, inhale sharply and then become very still. The thought of that makes me smile.

    • Chazz says:

      Yes! I got a VISA bill today, so I’m retreating into the depths of the Batcave to write and plot my book instead of my next move. After this week, it’s quite a relief to pull the covers of the book (metaphorically) and my blanket (literally) over my head. I read and write to escape and boy do I need to blow the hatch today!

      Next week: my frustrations with BookBaby and KDP Select! The saga continues.

  3. I had used PRWeb years ago for marketing promotion with no troubles and it was relatively inexpensive. So, I was excited to get back into press release writing when Mary and I launched HMSP last September. What a nightmare! We had similar issues with several rewrites and felt very defeated. In the end our press release was improved, though I don’t know if we plan on going that route, again. We received an increase an in traffic to our site, although not anywhere near what we’ve seen since joining Triberr. Much luck to you! ~ Andrea Bandle http://www.helpmeselfpublish.com

  4. Chazz says:

    Thanks, Andrea. Yeah, this turned into a one-time thing for me. It was a waste of money and yes, Triberr helps me much more than anything else. I’m very disappointed with the results from the press release, but I’m doing other things as well, so I hope to mitigate the loss using other routes. There are indeed many paths up the mountain. In the meantime, I’m working on getting the next book done and out the door by April 20, which is the single best thing I can do for the sales of all my books.

  5. […] Last week I wrote about my campaign to drag Self-help for Stoners into the world’s consciousness. If you’re new to the blog, long story short: I wrote a book of suspenseful fiction with a self-help twist dedicated to director Kevin Smith. When I had the honour of handing the book to my DIY hero at a comedy event simulcast to theatres across the US and Canada, I felt I had to take advantage of this unique opportunity. I tried an experiment with a press release distribution service called PR Web. For more on that review of the troubles I had getting the press release accepted for wide distribution, check out the original post here.  […]

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