PR Part III: Release the Press Release!

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For authors seeking that elusive “best-seller” status, self-promotion can be your best tool for generating internet traffic and increasing book sales.

Author signing autograph in own book at wooden table on light blurred background

With an effective press release, you’ll be giving autographs in no time!

Of all the self-promotion options available to independent authors, distributing press releases is probably the most overlooked and affordable method. This is unfortunate because it can be highly effective – especially if your press release is picked-up by a major news outlet, journal or magazine. It could even launch you to stardom.

With all of this said, you are just wasting your time if only launch a press release into the deep space of the internet and hope someone notices. It’s up to you to make sure people are aware it’s out there. So, put it to work on your author platform and start getting some of that sweet, sweet internet love.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a technical term for getting the most from what you put out on the internet. The technicalities are for the engineers to understand. For us, let’s think of it as executing a social media blitz, which sounds much more glamorous.

You may think this is complicated, but it’s easier than you think. First, post the news on your web site, then link to it from everywhere. The more back-links that point to your press release, the more value search engines assign to it. This means you show up higher on the search results page.

Don’t forget to get a little social media help from your friends.

Here’s what to do:

  • Tweet your news with a link to the announcement on your web site (and have friends and family retweet it)
  • Post your news with a link to the announcement on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ (very important for SEO), and everywhere else your audience may be found.
  • Create and post a video on YouTube, with you talking about the announcement and link back to the press release.
  • Embed the YouTube video into a blog post and link back to the announcement pages on other social networks such as Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon.

 

The combined effect of this promotion will be a four to five times increase in interest and traffic to your site  – thanks to the improved search engine rankings of your press release and author news.

Your press release is finished–get ready to ace the interviews!

 

As an independently published author, it’s up to you to get the word out about your work. If you lay the groundwork ahead of time, you will be ready for the attention. As a reminder, when your press release gets picked up by a local, state, or national publication, launch a new social media blitz announcing the announcement.

Additional information:
PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!

PR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

Let’s Go Viral: Five Tactics for Boosting Your Clicks, Likes, and Shares

Lulu Publishes Augmented Reality Art Book

arbook_2Do you remember being fascinated by pop-up books as a child? Or, maybe you discovered them as an adult and wondered where they’d been all your life. Pop-up books have a long, historical tradition going back several hundred years. The best ones feature elaborate artwork combined with clever paper cutouts to lift a story beyond the printed page.

Recently, the Center for Contemporary Art (CoCA) in Seattle, WA, took pop-ups a step further by applying augmented reality to print books. Yes, you heard that right: print and digital work hand-in-hand to create a new visual experience in the CoCA Pop-Up (AR)t book, a 48-page book published with Lulu. The book features beautiful contemporary art, and with the aid of a smartphone or tablet, the artwork jumps from the page into virtual reality.

CoCA aar_book1rtists displayed their original works in a gallery in the museum, where visitors could scan their devices over the pieces themselves and experience the magic of the 3D popup. The printed book reproduces the contemporary  art gallery’s ima ges allowing you to view both the printed artwork and experience it in 3D. Using an app found in the Apple and Google Play stores, users scan their device over the page, and a 3D image springs to life. On one page, a ghost floats eerily above the page; on another, a tree appears to grow straight out of the book. The Pop-Up AR(t) book is a fantastic example of augmented reality, and CoCA found a unique way to combine printed art and language traditions with technology to create an immersive user experience.

CoCA specializes in the development and advancement of contemporary art, and their innovative projects take art beyond the canvas and page. Their wide range of books, published with Lulu, expand on this idea and present new concepts to the world. The Pop-Up AR(t) book takes recent contemporary works from a variety of artists and presents them in a way that no other published art book has done.

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Available in the Lulu bookstore

Publishing with Lulu gave CoCA a platform for reaching artists around the world with their innovative artwork and project. As a platform for publishing freedom, Lulu gave CoCA the tools to create one of the first AR art books. With Lulu, your creativity knows no limits: from a coloring book to a 3D reality book, you can create projects that are only as limited as your imagination.

Also available in hardcover.

High School Writers and Artists Team Up to Publish Anthology

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Foreign Visions, a new anthologyfeatures short stories and artwork from 25 students at Foran High School. The paperback book, published using the free online publishing tools at Lulu.com, contains 17 short stories and accompanying artwork. The stories were penned by students in Rick Raucci’s Creative Writing class. The artwork was created by students in Meghan Hudson’s Advanced Drawing/Painting and AP Studio Art classes.

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Foreign Vision’s writers and artists

 

This is Foran High School’s first published book and Raucci said he couldn’t be prouder of the students who contributed the material and worked tirelessly to publish the book. Students in his creative writing class worked throughout the 2015-16 school year on various types of writing spanning multiple genres.

Raucci pitched the idea of an advanced writing class that would produce a book of short stories. With a grant secured to cover initial costs, Raucci got approval to move forward with the pilot program, working with 11 high school seniors who were recruited for the first year’s class.

“They were students selected based on their writing ability in the hopes of creating an authentic authorship experience,” Raucci said. The class began with students studying the importance of writing techniques such as setting, dialogue and plot development. “Even the smallest of details can change the story,” Raucci said. “How does age, for example, affect how a person will speak?”

Each student wrote three short stories, working with artists from Hudson’s class: In one round the writers had to write a story based on artwork supplied by the illustrators. The stories were then distributed to a panel of judges to rank. The top scoring pieces were selected for publication. “Everyone got a story published and there are a few students with two stories,” Raucci said.

As part of this project, students honed writing, editing and revising skills. They also got a taste of professional life by working on a deadline, receiving constructive criticism and incorporating recommended changes to their project. “They got the full authorship experience,” Raucci said.

For the art students, it was a chance to work as they might on a job.“For my student artists, this book is a unique opportunity to bridge classroom learning to real-life learning,” Hudson said. “Student authors and artists paired up for this collaborative effort, which allowed my artists to work with a ‘client’ rather than making art for themselves.

Hudson said that when another stakeholder’s opinions and input are entwined in the creative process, it changes the game for the artist. “This was an exciting challenge for both the authors and artists,” she added.

Lulu is a self publishing company, but that doesn’t mean the student writers didn’t have to meet tough standards. The manuscript required several revisions to meet distribution requirements, but students didn’t balk. They were eager to put in the extra work with some students even working weekends to get the completed manuscript revised in time.

The original idea was that the class would be self-sustaining. Students developed a marking plan to sell the books for $20. Before the first shipment of books were even delivered, students had sold more than 300 copies. “Not only were we able to replenish the grant funds, we were also able to give away scholarships to students,” Raucci said, noting that three $500 scholarships were awarded at the end of the school year.

Principal Max Berkowitz said he looks forward to the continued success of the class. “Advanced Creative Writing provides students a unique and rigorous experience while allowing them to take ownership over their learning,” Berkowitz said. “The opportunity for our students to become published authors has been an exciting and proud experience for the entire school community.”

foreign-visions-bookcover“This is a huge accomplishment for our students to have published work at this level of their education,” said Hudson. “They are thrilled to see their work in print.”

Foreign Visions’ is available in both paperback and eBook formats and can be purchased in the Lulu bookstore as well as all major online retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

More About Project-based Learning

Student Publishing with Lulu

Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

YSHS Students Turn Cookbooks into Scholarships

Lulu Academy: Enroll Today

Video Tutorial: How to Publish a Paperback Book

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

Best Gift 2016

Be a winner.

This year, Lulu wants you to win the trophy for best holiday gift.

I know, I know. I hear you wailing, “One holiday at a time. it’s not even Halloween yet.” I’m with you. Nothing ruins September like walking into a store that is already decked out for Christmas. But, if you want to win that trophy and make everyone green with envy, you need to prepare now.

Let’s start by thinking about what makes a winning holiday gift. Maybe your Christmas morning is like a day on the Oprah set, “You get a new car. You get a new car. Everybody gets a new car!” If so, you have already won.

If not, think about the gifts you have received in the past. Which gifts were most memorable? You would probably remember a free car, but you are also likely to remember gifts that were personal, showed a level of thoughtfulness, effort, and originality.

Here are a few gift ideas that are sure to win you the best gift trophy:

  • Create a personalized friends and family calendar featuring pictures from the past year.
  • Print a cookbook featuring your family’s favorite recipes. Include some stories about where the recipes come from and why they are favorites.
  • Help grandpa publish his memoir. Print copies and ask him to sign them for family members.
  • Download your family history from Ancestry.com and print copies for the family.
  • Ask your children to write and illustrate a story.  Then scan the pages and create a book to give as gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
  • Remember those old love letters in the back of your closet? Create a photo book pairing the letters with pictures from your relationship.
  • Create a travel log from this year’s adventures.
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The winner is….. You!

These will all make treasured gifts, unlike the ugly sweater you will only wear when Aunt Martha visits.  These ideas will all take a bit of planning and effort; however, it will all be worth it when you take home the best gift trophy for 2016.

Over the next several weeks we will discuss how to create these winning gifts. If you have additional ideas, share them in the comments below.

Now get back to enjoying your September.

For More Information

Custom Calendars: Daily Reminders of Your Best Memories

Tutorial: Create a Calendar

Tutorial: Create a Coloring Book

Tutorial: Create a Personalized Journal

 

PR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

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You wrote a book! Yay for you! Take a moment and celebrate the accomplishment. Savor the giddy happiness of creating something from just an idea (and months and months of toil). Actually, take a few moments to really appreciate this feeling. You deserve it.

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Now get back to work. First, buy a few copies to sign for family and close friends. Also, share your great news on Facebook, Twitter and all the places your friends hang out. If you are like many newly published authors you will stop here and and devote the coming weeks to hoping someone will stumble upon your book among all the books available to purchase online.

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It could happen, but to be honest, without a savvy media campaign it is unlikely. I hear you gnashing your teeth and wailing, “Nobody has money for that!” I get it, really I do, but come on, you just wrote a book.  You can surely write a one-page press release about it.

Remember those five-paragraph essays you wrote in high school and college? Writing a press release is pretty much the same thing and like those high school essays, they follow a standard format. Let’s get started.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (all caps – you can also enter a future release date here)

Press Release Title (bold font, up to 80 characters, should be catchy, not cutesy!)

Write a three sentence summary of your news angle or book pitch here. Your angle is what makes your book special. Your pitch is how you generate interest in your book.

CITY, STATE – DATE (all caps, bold font)The body of your press release starts here, on the same line as your dateline. An effective release will be written around the pitch idea you’ve perfected for your book. The first paragraph briefly answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how.

Use the body paragraphs to expand on the five Ws and an H above. Why is your book timely or relevant. Who will care? What problem does it solve? How will people benefit by reading it?

The writing style for your press release should imitate a news story or book review you would find in the publications to which you are submitting your release. This approach makes it easier for journalists in search of content to see your news as something ready for publication through their outlets.

It is always good to incorporate quotes from the author, an authority in the field, or a reputable reviewer, throughout the body of your release. Keep in mind that quotes cannot be changed if your press release is picked up by a journalist, so choose them carefully. Include the names and credentials of the people you quote. DO NOT quote family or friends unless they are an expert in the field in which you write.

Add any remaining details such as the release date, where the book can be purchased (Lulu.com), the formats in which it is available, the retail price, etc.

About <Your Name>

Include a short author bio ( approximately 100 words). Include your qualifications to write the book – i.e. local connection, profession, life-long interest, etc. This paragraph is referred to as a boilerplate and usually remains the same from one press release to another.

For more information about <YOUR BOOK TITLE>, visit <Link to WEBSITE>. Additional author information and promotional images are available at <Link to AUTHOR PRESS KIT> or contact <PUBLICIST’S NAME> at <PHONE NUMBER>. Free review copies are provided on request.

###
(Indicates the end of the press release)

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Experts recommend a press release be about one page in length, so use your words wisely. Most importantly, your press release will be the first impression you make on a journalist, editor, or reviewer so proofread, proofread, and proofread again before you send it.

When complete, copy and paste your attention grabbing headline into the email subject line. Then copy the entire press release (including the headline) into the body of the email. Include links to your website and author press kit. Be sure to include your contact information. Do not attach files to the email or include a free electronic copy of your book unless requested by a journalist.

Up next – PR Part III: Release the Press Release! Now that you have written the best press release ever, put it to work.

Additional Information

PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!

PR Part III: Release the Press Release!

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

 

PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!

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RALEIGH, NC – September 13, 2016 – Lulu, the pioneer and world leader in independent publishing, announced today that all authors should launch their new books with a well-crafted press release. “It’s your story and you should be the person telling it,” said Glenn@Lulu, Content Marketing Manager at Lulu Press.

 

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That’s the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day!

That’s a pretty standard (and frankly boring) opening for a press release: Announce something, follow it by an authoritative, quotable quote, then tell the story. It’s really like writing a one-page essay. All you need to do is write a release that answers who, what, when, where, why and how. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

You may be surprised to learn there are people out there who make hundreds of dollars per press release. That’s right, all that money for writing five paragraphs announcing something someone thinks is newsworthy. In reality, this is something you can do yourself. All you need is a bit of practice and an ear for what will attract the attention of local, national, and global news outlets.

Let’s get started.

One second to fame

Books are published everyday. Another one being published is not news. Therefore, your headline has to jump off the screen and make a reporter want to read more of your story. Since your headline is the first impression you will make, avoid clichés, puns, and gimmicky subject lines. Otherwise your headline may be the last impression you make before a journalist hits the delete key.

Sell the hook, not the book

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Sell the hook first. Then sell the book.

What makes your book relevant? Does it solve a problem? How does it relate to other books in the genre? Does your book explain or fit neatly into a current news story? Does the action in your book revolve around an upcoming holiday? Are you a coroner writing a crime novel? A mother writing a conspiracy thriller? A life-long city dweller celebrating life off the grid? Your press release is the means to tell your story. The book is almost an afterthought, “If you want to know more, you can find <insert title here> on Lulu and all major online bookstores.”

 

Don’t promote, inform

An effective press release is based on facts, not opinion. Of course you, your mom and your best friend think your book is the best book ever published, but that is only an opinion. A journalist needs facts and when possible quotes. If your book solves a problem, state the problem and the solution it provides. If your characters or plot happen to coincide with something happening in the news, explain why your book will help people better understand the situation. When possible, provide quotes from experts in your field or snippets from reputable reviewers.

The best book in the world – Really?

hyperboleYou want your headline and body text to be original, snappy, and attention grabbing; however, avoid using clichés and hyperbole. Unless you have proof your book will transform lives, leave readers breathless or on their knees begging for more, don’t include these overused tropes in your press release. They show a lack of thought and imagination (see above – facts not opinions).

 

Do your research

Your best bet for getting early publicity for your book will be from local newspapers, libraries, radio programs, and independent bookstores. With that said, make sure you do your homework and address your press release email to a person (name spelled correctly).   No one wants to receive a generic email blast sent to every Sir, Madame, or Whom it May Concern in the business. Make it personal. I spell my name Glenn with two Ns – you should too!

Everybody is busy (and lazy)

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Content, I need good content!

All journalists are on tight deadlines, so the easier you make it for them to write the story, the more likely it is your story will get their attention. When you send your press release email, include links to your author press kit (About the Author), your book’s retail page, and book excerpts. It is not recommended you send a free copy of your book with the initial contact. Instead, explain that free electronic copies will be provided upon request.

 

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to getting the publicity your book deserves. Remember, start local, be personal, and try different angles until you have perfected your press release. Then go national.

 

Up nextPR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

Tips for composing the best book launch press release in the history of the written word in the format of a standard press release.

Additional Resources

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

How to Publish a Paperback Book on Lulu.com

 

 

Getting to Know Lulu CEO Nigel Lee

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“This is a truly amazing team and a truly amazing company. When I look at Lulu, I believe that it’s time to stop referring to what we do as self-publishing. It’s really independent publishing for independent authors and creators. The real difference is in who reaps the reward for creating. At Lulu, creators benefit, not the corporation. We are on the right side of history and we are setting out to prove it.” – Nigel Lee

Nigel Head ShotNigel Lee, Lulu CEO recently spoke at the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI) Management Conference in Wild Dunes, South Carolina. These excerpts are from a follow-up interview that appeared in ShelfLife, the Book Manufacturers’ Institute newsletter (Vol 11, Issue 2).

BMI:  Your team wants to make content creation and consumption a simpler and more rewarding experience for people around the world. Lulu.com is available in six languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch. How did you so successfully get the word out about how Lulu.com could help writers and authors?

Nigel Lee: The key to the success of any business idea is that it has to solve a problem. Lulu.com solved a problem and was the first to bring the solution to a global audience. The problem was a simple one. It was traditionally very difficult to get a book published. Most publishers operated (and still do!) based on a profit censorship model. They  would only show interest in titles they felt would make them money. This resulted in millions of voices not being heard, millions of books not being published. Given the inherent costs of publishing, traditionally publishers would then take the lion’s share of all profits generated by a title.

Lulu.com reversed this model entirely. Lulu.com accepts all titles, within the boundaries of the law. The author retains all ownership and control and keeps up to 90% of all profits. Lulu.com proliferated this model via the Internet. Given the disruptive and much needed model Lulu.com offered and the fact that Lulu was first to market allowing authors to engage directly and simply with just a web browser, Lulu.com grew very quickly. Lulu continues to be successful based on the core principles of the original business idea.

Key to Lulu.com’s success is the continued ability to understand its customers and react accordingly. The launch of Glasstree Academic Publishing later this year is a clear example of listening to our customers and developing a business to serve their needs directly.

BMI: What role has your comfort with technology played in your professional success?

Lee: Technology is simply a tool, like a shovel or a fork. Using the latest tools available has been a constant in the evolution of our species and I’m born of a generation that is perfectly comfortable with the increased pace of such developments. My personal success has come from an ability to articulate the value of a technology to the audience who can benefit from it.

BMI: You are known for welcoming disruption and challenging the status quo. Why do you think this is necessary and important for businesses seeking transformation?

Lee: I prefer the term ‘breaking orthodoxy’ rather than disruption. Breaking orthodoxy is critical to building businesses that solve problems. You have to think about doing things in a different way, a better way. The bigger the problem, or the more exploitative the existing model, the greater your likelihood of being disruptive will be when breaking that orthodoxy

BMI: We very much admire Lulu Jr., the program that allows children to become published authors, encouraging creativity, strengthening literacy and building self-esteem. Tell us more about this initiative.

Lee: Lulu Junior is based on a simple premise that children learn most while writing and not while reading. Fostering creativity and writing in young children is a powerful way of growing their cognitive abilities across all disciplines. That we are able to provide ways in which to stimulate child development is just a very worthwhile thing to do.

BMI: Why is Lulu’s sponsorship and involvement in the Lulu eGames at North Carolina State University so important to you and your team? How do they promote entrepreneurship and innovation?

Lee: Lulu is an entrepreneurial company. Entrepreneurship is the life source of any economy and therefore society; however, the development of these skills is often overlooked in higher education. NC State is a very forward thinking university that recognized the value of developing entrepreneurial skills. Being part of this initiative gives Lulu the opportunity to contribute to society and promote entrepreneurship beyond the walls of its own organization. As a certified B-Corp company, we are deeply committed to doing everything we can to make the world a better place and this is a key part of that endeavor.

BMI: Speaking of innovation, if time and money were no object, what “invention” or change do you think could make the most difference for two of your passions – children and their opportunities for a quality education?

Lee: We need to see ourselves as a single society. To understand that the key to addressing all of our challenges and inequalities is the ability to act in unison. Technology is accelerating this evolution. The internet is making the world a smaller place everyday. We are no longer blind to the inequities of our society and the damage caused by tribal instincts for power and control and the fight over regional scarcity of resources. Every child has a right to basic human necessities; health, clean water, food, shelter, education and love. At a certain moment in time we will recognize that this is the key to our future as a race. The day we recognize it isn’t acceptable for more than 60 million children to have no schooling will be the day my dream starts to come true. This number has halved in the last 16 years, but will take an estimated 70 more years before the number is even close to zero. Technology has an incredibly important role to play, if companies are willing to play their part in making the world a better place.

Want to know more?

Follow Nigel on LinkedIn and Twitter (@blindfoldzebra)

Have a question for Nigel?

Is there something you would like to know about Lulu or Glasstree Academic Publishing?  Submit your questions to pr@lulu.com. Enter Question for Nigel in the subject line. Your question could be answered in a future article.

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