Friday, October 30, 2009

Press Release? What Press Release?

I struggled all day yesterday to come up with a press release. I read articles, I looked at samples, I wrote some copy. And all I have to show for it is a catchy title (I think), the first paragraph, and the ending. It is the middle paragraph that has me stumped. The press release, excuse me MEDIA Release (it's not called a press release anymore because of the various ways news is communicated today) is supposed to read somewhat like an article. In fact, if it is really good, the reporter may just use it in its entirety. It is not to come across like a sales pitch for whatever it is you are selling.

In my previous job as Vice President of Marketing for an insurance company, I wrote press releases on occasion. But they always revolved around an internal promotion or perhaps a charitable event. Writing about my book makes it much more personal. So I may find myself in the position of hiring someone to write the press release for me. In the meantime, I'll come up with something to bounce off a writer's group I am meeting with on Saturday. Maybe I'm making this way harder than it has to be.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Press Releases

I was going to write next about the editing process for my book, but I've just been asked by two different media outlets for information about the book. That means I need a press release. In my usual anal-retentiveness, I have been scouring the web for how to prepare a book press release. I have to say, for the first time Dan Poynter's Self Publishing Manual let me down. He is sketchy at best on preparing a "press kit", and doesn't discuss the press release at all. From what I am reading, it appears I will need several versions of the release, depending on my market i.e. the press, bookstores, potential audience groups, etc. Sounds like I have my work cut out for me today. Hope my husband doesn't expect me to do any work for our business today!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writing the Book

Using the experience of my own house history research, the outline of the book came together pretty nicely for me. My book is essentially broken down into three sections: preparing to do the research, actually doing the research, and finally compiling all the research. What involved the most amount of time for me was identifying all the different resources available in St. Louis County, which is the heart of section 2. As a follow up, I contacted all the different libraries and research centers referenced in my book and asked them to review section 2 of the book. I wanted to make sure that if I said the library had a certain book or microfilm that they indeed had it. The added value of them looking at section 2 was that I got quite a bit of additional input into what I consider to be the gut of the book.

As I look back now, I realize that from the time I began writing the book in early 2008 to the first draft being completed and ready to be sent to the editor in April of 2009, a period of sixteen months had elapsed. Wow! Obviously I did not work on the book 24/7. My husband and I own a couple of small businesses and we also have two children, so like most people I don't have a great deal of spare time. But by setting aside a small amount of time each evening to write, it did get done. Persistence will pay off.

Next up...what happened after the book went to the editor.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I Write

It was suggested to me that I write a blog describing the process of developing and publishing my book. As this topic really doesn't fit in with the content of my other blogs, I thought it would be better to form a new one.

I suppose like most people I have always wanted to write a book. In my mind's eye, it would be a book for children on the process of composting. My husband and I own a commercial composting facility, and as I spoke to classrooms it quickly became apparent that there are no good books for kids on the subject.

Time passed, and though I took a class on writing for children, the composting book just never jelled for me. I became interested in researching the history of our home as it neared its 100th birthday. I wanted to obtain the coveted Century Home plaque awarded by our local historical society. Thinking it would be a cake walk, I headed to the local library for information, and then to the county government center. Long story short, it took three years and ultimately a trip to Chicago to find answers to the questions of who our house had been built for, and in what year. Determined to remove the frustration and put the fun into house history research, I decided to write a book to help others discover the stories of their houses.

The best thing that I did was sign up for a community college class on how to write, publish and promote a non-fiction book. Then I signed up for the follow-up class. Bobbi Linkemer's classes were just the thing I needed to get my book organized and on track. The second best thing I did was to write my book proposal. I was well aware that due to the limited audience for my book, a traditional publisher would probably not be interested in it. So, why would I need a book proposal, you might ask. The answer is quite simple - the book proposal makes you think about you book from another perspective. Why are you writing this book? Is there really a market for this book? What other books are out there on your subject? And why are you the best person to tell the story?

The book proposal is work, no question about it. But, as Bobbi reminded us, everything you do for the proposal will be used by you again in and for the book. It is not a waste of time. I just can't understand why anyone would write a book without doing the proposal research first. Why would you put all the effort and expense into a book only to find out there is no market for it? The exception to all this, of course, is if the author is writing the book only for him or herself, or to share with family. Obviously if you have no intentions of selling your book, there is no need to write a proposal.

More on the book next time...