Yesterday, I gave a presentation on the basics of Social Media during the St. Louis Writers’ Guild monthly workshop. Two other authors presented along with me, Cole Gibsen and Shawntelle Madison. The audience was great, and everyone asked a lot of good questions.
The first couple slides give a basic overview of Twitter, Facebook and Websites/Blogs. Then I dive into the angle I took. Social Media – specifically Facebook, Twitter, and personal websites/blogs – are a great way to help get the attention of newspaper reporters, newsletter editors and others. But there are some things authors should know.
Having worked as a past reporter, I always encourage my writing friends to tell their local newspaper and other publications about their books and projects. But the biggest mistake I see new authors make is they assume that publishing a book is news.
Let me say that again.
Just because you wrote a book doesn’t mean it’s news in the eyes of an editor or reporter. It’s actually a feature story or, specifically, a profile story. That means, when you call up an editor/reporter, they will be polite and thank you for calling. However, instead of taking action, more often than not, they’re going to file you and your book away in their “story idea” folder where it will die a quiet death between the sewing circle meeting contact info and the church bazaar date.
Nobody wants that. But you have to understand that the reason this most often happens is because editors/reporters don’t understand anything about the publishing business. Yes, that’s not a joke. Too many writers assume that because reporters/editors are also writers they must understand the inherent difficulty in getting published and, of course, the difference between indie presses and New York presses.
They don’t. They’re too busy meeting deadlines, trying to increase subscription sales and getting a handle on their own social media challenges. So, make sure you communicate with them why you getting published makes a great story for their readers. Whether its the success of a local resident, or the 6-figure deal you got, or the fact that you’re striking out on your own in this shaky economy and self publishing (and been successful, hopefully). All authors have an angle, you just have to figure out what it is.
I know. It can be hard to figure out an angle, but doing so will help you in the long run. Editors/Reporters don’t have time to figure it out for you. And besides, you really don’t want them to. When they do, you lose control over what they’re writing about you. But that’s its own separate blog post.
Make sure you develop your angle before contacting that newspaper reporter. It will keep you out of the “story idea” folder and get into the “stories in progress” folder. That’s where you want to be. The easiest way to do this is to write a press release and include your angle (or news peg) upfront. I’ll talk about this in my next blog post later this week.
Now, it’s pretty out, and I’m going to go edit my crit partners’ pages by the pool!