5 Creative Ways to Improve Your Press Release

Posted by admin on August 20th, 2013


In one way or another, you’ve encountered a press release in your professional life. If you are now pursuing a career as a writer, you will become very familiar with the press release. This is how your publisher, your publicist or you, personally, will get the nuts and bolts of your out to the media. The press release includes the release date, the publisher, the number of pages, the price, the ISBN and all of the nitty-gritty details about your book. It also includes a summary and possibly a quote or two (called blurbs) from authors or reviewers. Oftentimes, what a press release doesn’t include is excitement, need, urgency or enthusiasm. Let’s change that!

1. Create Headlines Fit for a Magazine!

You need to grab the attention of your media contact right out of the gate. Editors and producers are on tight deadlines and they need to be hooked from the first sentence. Your headline has to be something that is interesting, attractive, enticing and news worthy. If it already sounds like a magazine article or morning news show headline then you are halfway there. Of course, it has to fit with their audience so make sure to tailor your headlines for the appropriate media. It shows that you are familiar with the outlet and respect the work they do.

2. Inform, Educate and Provide Value

In a way, we are all a little self-absorbed. When we read an article or watch a segment on the news, it’s because it holds personal interest to us. You need to provide something useful, educational or interesting to your audience if you want them to pick up your book.

3. Prove it!

Nothing is more convincing than hard facts. Cite research statistics, facts and studies within the body of your press release.

4. Get Personal

Don’t forget you are pitching a human being so your press release should have some human interest aspect to it. Straight facts aren’t going to get you through the door but facts coupled with a personal anecdote from the author or a specific example from real life will certainly help.

5. Be Trendy!

Follow the news trends. If everyone is talking about the royal baby and your book is about a young mother, tie it together in a nice bow for the producer or editor. Show them that you are closely following the news stories of the day and that your novel/self-help book/memoir fits into that area.

Check back tomorrow for 5 *More* Creative Ways to Improve Your Press Release!

The Stress of a Book Release

Posted by admin on August 19th, 2013


Being an author sounds dreamy, right? Work from home. Write inspiring words for months on end. Create the perfect novel (self-help book, biography, memoir). Attend swanky book launches and have multiple sit-down interviews. Be whisked away to signings all across the country as you read all of your glowing reviews.

Yes, these things do happen, just ask JK Rowling or EL James. We have seen it happen with our very own clients. But it isn’t always this dreamy and it’s never effortless. It can be stressful and emotionally taxing. The writing doesn’t always come easy, the edits can be long and difficult to navigate, and dealing with the steps to publication can send an author into a tailspin of fear, insecurity and doubt. But there is one clear cut way to ease your end game. PREPARATION.

Look at the releasing of your book as a business. The book is done. It will never be perfect. Many authors don’t even like to re-read their work for fear they will find things they want to change. So let it go and move on. Move to the next stage of your adventure. Getting your book out into the public.

We often say that authors need to take off the artist hat and put on the business hat but it’s a little more complicated than that. Yes, publicizing and marketing your book can feel like a job without much room for creativity. You feel like you are trying to get your “product” into as many hands as possible. But there is always room for creativity. Before the book launches, start brainstorming creative ways you would like your book to enter the world. Using small amounts of your time preparing for the launch will help minimize the stress that can grip you when that day finally arrives. Think of it as studying for your finals throughout the entire semester instead of waiting until the last minute.

BLOGGING:

  • Determine what it is you like about certain blogs. Narrow down a list of the blogs you frequent on a daily basis and see what it is about those sites that keep you coming back for more. What is it about the writing style and the content that you are drawn to? Do they use images? Do they link to news stories or write heartfelt posts. Are they short or long? Figure out what you like and then determine what feels comfortable to you and your writing style.
  • Read as many news sources as you can DAILY. Make a google alert for your book’s subject matter (this can work for fiction as well as non-fiction). See where conversations are developing. What topics strike interest and start drafting your ideas as blog posts. Blog entries can often be a great launching pad for full articles or essays that you can pitch to magazines and newspapers. They can sometimes even entice a producer with a potential story angle.
  • Write multiple “evergreen” blog posts weeks before your book launches so that you have fresh material that can appear daily on your site. Evergreen stories are those that don’t relate to an actual news event or even make reference to any particular time period. They can be posted at any given moment and still provide your site with new content. An active site excites people. It shows that you are a real person, not just a name on a book jacket. It also shows that you are actively involved and interested in the world you write about.

NETWORKING:

  • Reach out to authors whom you admire or respect. Tell them about your upcoming release and see if they have any advice or insight they can provide. Create real relationships without asking for anything. Not everyone will respond, people are busy so don’t take it personally.
  • Connect with writers at magazines and newspapers. They are regular people looking for stories on a daily basis. Follow their columns or reviews. Follow them on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. Get out there and CONNECT!
  • Be more social. Hanging out with friends and family is a great way to continuously spread the word about your work. Don’t constantly be in self-promotion mode but also don’t be afraid to ask those closest to you to be your own guerilla marketing team. Make it fun for them! Give them goodies to give to their friends; bookmarks, magnets, pens, free copies of your book. Let your enthusiasm for your work be infectious!

These are just a few ways to get the ball rolling and help ease some of the stress that comes when launching a book. Don’t forget to make it fun! This is your job but it’s also your passion. Enjoy the journey and try not to focus too much on a destination that you have created in your mind and labeled “success.” There is no specific definition for success in life or in publishing, so learn new things every day, keep striving towards manageable goals and don’t forget to SHINE!

 

 

Interview with Marci Nault, author of THE LAKE HOUSE

Posted by admin on May 13th, 2013


Marci Nault is living proof that dreams come true. In 2008, Marci asked herself a question that would change the trajectory of her life forever. She asked, “What do I want from this life? If I wasn’t afraid, and didn’t play by the rules, how would I live?” Her answer was a life-list of 101 Dreams Come True that led her on a journey of self-discovery and adventure. Having completed almost ninety of her life dreams including publishing her novel The Lake House, Marci knows what it means to take risks, go after her deepest desires, live beyond fear, and to fall in love with life, the world and herself.

Hear what Marci has to say about inspiration and taking chances.

1.     Tell us the story behind the story. How did THE LAKE HOUSE come to be?

I was living in California in an apartment where I wasn’t happy, and every day I desperately searched for a new home. While in Boston for Christmas, I had a dream that I found my perfect house on a lake and bought it without doing any research. When I moved in, everyone in the small community was over the age of seventy, and some of the women were determined to set me up with their grandsons. I woke and knew that I had to write the story.

2.   What was the most challenging aspect of writing THE LAKE HOUSE?

I’ve never been a patient person. The saying, “God grant me patience now!” has always been my motto. Writing takes incredible patience. This book took many revisions, in part because there were many characters, and it spanned over fifty years with numerous flashbacks, and also in part because I was a new writer learning the craft. Each time I did a revision I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible, but writing doesn’t work that way. The characters speak when they’re ready. Sometimes I have no choice but to work around the clock, and at other times I stare at the television hoping my emotional and mental state will fire up.

But there’s something magical about finding a storyline or figuring out a plot. I feel fulfilled when a story is buzzing in my brain. I love getting to know my characters and seeing the world through their eyes: I laugh, fall in love, cry and get ticked off with them. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to write and share my stories with people.

3.   What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?

The main theme of the book is the human need for a place to belong and the softness of home. I wanted to create a world where the reader could escape into the nostalgia of the Norman Rockwell time period.

I also wanted people to realize that our elders are important in our lives. We can learn from their stories and their life experience. We tend to care so much about youth and fear age that we don’t want to see our elderly. When I researched this book I spoke to women from the World War II generation, and they told the best stories. I was surprised by their spunk and liveliness in spite of illnesses or injuries. I think we’ve lost something in our lives by dismissing older people because they might not keep up with modern technology or are possibly set in their ways. We have this idea that life is over after a certain age, but in truth many people fall in love, travel the world, or take up new sports in their final years.

Also, sometimes what we think we want in life is the exact opposite of what we really need. If Heather had moved into a community with all young people, she probably would’ve continued to be uncertain of herself, always trying to keep up with what she believed she should be. By moving into a place where everyone was older, she was able to gain confidence and find what her heart desired.

4.     Describe your background.

I’ve been obsessed with the mind and how it either gets in our way or helps us to achieve great things. For most of my childhood I knew the person I wanted to be in the world but had no idea how to become it. This caused me to study psychology, mental training, and those around me. I think this is what allows me to write emotions well. Though I was an honor student throughout school, in some ways I’ve been rebellious about going the traditional route in life. I chose not to go to college because I didn’t want to start my life out with the heavy debt of an Ivy League school. I went to Massage Therapy School so I would always have a trade to rely on. I started speaking about the mind and meditation in my late teens, which led to me starting a small publishing and distributing business that I sold in my mid-twenties to pursue a career in fiction. I invested in real estate – buying, living in and fixing up a few select properties and then selling them for a profit, which allowed me to take a few years off to write The Lake House.

5.     Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?

I wish I had a writing schedule—it would make my life easier. But in truth, I never know when inspiration is going to strike: shopping, running errands, driving, hiking in the woods, and quite often on planes. I get some of my best ideas on flights. When I was writing The Lake House I had a “Beautiful Mind” thing going on. My walls were covered with papers: doodles of the community, historical time lines, character descriptions, and plots. Once the first draft was done I printed it all out and marked each character’s storyline with different colored post-it-notes. Then I worked out the entire plot on a dry-erase board to see the arc of the story.  This time, I’m starting with the dry-erase board.

I tend to laugh at my first outlines because I know the story and the characters are going to lead where they want to go—I’m going to find out where they’re taking me when they’re good and ready. I like it this way, even if my editor and agent would prefer that I know the entire story ahead of time.

6.     What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?

Bel Canto by Anne Patchett is my all time favorite book. It’s like eating really great chocolate. Chocolate because I love her descriptions. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle because it helps me with my patience issue and Stephen King’s On Writing. At the moment I’m reading Love Anthony by Lisa Genova.

7.     Which authors inspire you?

Anne Patchett, Lisa Genova, Kristen Hannah, Jodi Picoult, Mary Alice Monroe.

8.     What have you learned from this experience?

First of all—PATIENCE! Just because something doesn’t happen in my timeframe doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. I’ve also learned that sometimes, even though it’s hard for me, I need to ask for help. Writing a book can be consuming and challenging, sometimes even a little exposing emotionally and you need the help of friends and family to get you through.

9.     What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Writing is an art that takes revisions and patience. The first draft is just a sketch, the second colors in the lines, the third bring out the details that you forgot to see because you were busy writing the big picture, and the fourth is the flow to make the story seamless and easy for the reader to follow. With each revision I learned and I became a better writer.

I liken the editorial process to a coach and an athlete. I think it’s important if you’re not working with an editor to get a professional critique. Many times these aren’t expensive and they can help strengthen your weaknesses.

10.    What are you working on now?

I’m working on my second novel, The Memory of You (working title).

11.    In 2008 you asked the question, ‘What do I want from this life?’ It was that question that prompted you to create your inspiring website, www.101DreamsComeTrue.com. Can you tell us about www.101DreamsComeTrue.com?

In June of 2008, I was probably the saddest I’d ever been in my life: I had recently left an eight-year relationship and was living in California away from most of my family and friends; my brother had almost died from MRSA and was still in the hospital; my family was fighting; and the house I was renting was being sold. I didn’t have a career or a plan and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed. I sat under a tree in Sonoma, CA—lost, scared, and trying not to cry while praying for reprieve.

Something told me to make a list of all the times I’d been happiest in my life, and I wrote down about fifteen things that included some previous travel or learning something new. I looked at the list and realized I was happiest when I was going after my dreams. I decided to ask, “What if I wasn’t afraid of failure? What if there weren’t any rules? What if I didn’t worry about money? What would I want?”

I began to write with conviction: I wanted to live in Florence for a month; return to figure skating and really train and compete; learn to dance salsa and tango; travel the world; lift someone up who’d lost all hope; find an incredible group of friends; become a published author and have writing be my career; own my own business. When I was done, I looked at the list and I had added 85 items to the first fifteen. I wrote one last thing—to laugh so hard with a stranger my sides hurt. I looked at the list and thought, yeah right, there’s no way I can complete 101 of my biggest dreams. I folded it up and put in my pocket planning to throw it away.

That night, at the hotel in Napa where I was staying, the concierge invited me to have a drink with her and some other guests. Within an hour she had me laughing so hard that I had to go to the bathroom because I was coughing and crying so hard that my stomach hurt. I saw myself smiling in the mirror and I realized that one of my dreams had come true, and I thought about the list. I took it out of my pocket and wondered, “What if?”

I went home and wrote all of the dreams on a dry-erase board. Across the top I wrote, “Settle For Nothing Less Than Magnificence in Life.” At that moment, I made the decision that I would pursue my dreams with everything I had. I would go after the life I desired with all my heart. One by one, my dreams began to come true and as my life drastically changed people asked me what I was doing. Friends encouraged me to share my story, and though I wanted to keep it private, I realized that maybe my story could inspire others.

12.    How has “101DreamsComeTrue” changed your life?

Since beginning my journey, my life has drastically changed. I have the career of my dreams. I live in a house I own outright. I train in figure skating and compete as an adult at the national level. Incredible friends who love to get the most out of life surround me. My family is back together (my brother is healed and healthy). I have an amazing community of salsa dancers. I own my own online bridal business, Elegant Bridal Designs. I’ve traveled the world and had incredible experiences that have made me realize that this earth is an incredible gift and it’s filled with the friendliest people.

More importantly, I’ve changed as a person. In the past I believed that I had to make everyone else happy in order to deserve my happiness. I thought by being selfless and putting myself last that I would be loved in return and someone would put me first. I didn’t stick up for myself until I was near the breaking point and I let people walk on me and use me. That person no longer exists. Now I know that I’m responsible for my happiness, and that when I give to myself, I have more for others, but I give only what I can. Most importantly I’ve realized that we are so much bigger than we can see ourselves being, and only in dreaming can we know how amazing our life is meant to be.

13.    You’ve checked off a lot of items on that list. Will you be creating a new list or adding to your 101 Dreams?

The list is almost 90% complete and as I strive to finish all of my dreams I’ve wondered about what’s next. I’m always going to want to explore and learn. This world is an incredible playground so I’m certain I’ll keep adding to the list. But most of all I want to enjoy the life I’ve built: figure skating, salsa dancing, writing novels, traveling, spending time with loved ones, and inspiring others to go after their dreams. People think of this as a “bucket-list” of what I want to do before I die, but for me it is a “life-list” of how I want to live.

14.    What is the best piece of advice you can give someone who would like to create his or her own Dream List?

It’s funny because I feel like a motivational poster on Facebook when I say this, but it’s completely true. Dream bigger than you can see yourself being. Go after the things that will hurt if you don’t accomplish them. Those are the things you fear the most because they matter the most. You won’t have any idea how you’re going to accomplish any of your dreams, but doorways will open where you least expect them. And I know it’s kind of a cliché, but you have to be willing to walk through them. The fear will never go away. I always feel like I’m jumping off cliffs wondering if I have the right materials to build my wings on the way down before I crash. I still get scared each time I attempt something new or go after the unknown, but the fear just means I want it more than I even realize. And age doesn’t matter!

Interview with Carrie Cariello

Posted by admin on April 22nd, 2013


 

Carrie Cariello’s What Color is Monday? was recently featured on Fox News and was selected by Parents Magazine as the “perfect book for Autism Awareness Month.” We sat down with Carrie to discuss the motivation behind her memoir, how autism has changed her life and what words of wisdom she can share with others.

What motivated you to write WHAT COLOR IS MONDAY?

Both the title and the subject of the book were inspired by my autistic son, Jack.

My children motivated me to begin compiling my essays into a book and consider publishing it.  As I watched each of them take delight in each other and Jack, and our family grow stronger as a result of his autism, I felt compelled to reveal the other side of the spectrum disorder; the uplifting, heartwarming, positive angle that often goes uncelebrated.

But I was equally compelled to reveal it with candor and honesty, to highlight the challenges that endless stimming and perseverations, limited communication and rigidity can bring to a family.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing WHAT COLOR IS MONDAY?

For me, finding the time and the discipline to write every day was the most challenging part of writing the book. And once the manuscript was completed, the tedious task of editing and proofing with the publisher was very difficult. I hated the book, then loved it again, then hated it once more.  Now I think it’s okay.

What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?

I hope readers see the funny, frustrating, confusing, brilliant aspects of autism. I hope they can relate to both the challenges and joy of raising a larger family with a special-needs child.

I especially hope young parents with a newly-diagnosed child can read the opening chapter and see themselves in it, and understand that although the road ahead will be challenging, it will also be rewarding. And fun.

How did writing about your son Jack’s autism help you understand him better?

Since I started writing regularly, a certain phrase comes to my mind often: to see him is to write about him and to write about him I need to see him. Essentially, writing about Jack helps me to observe him at a distance and yet understand him much more thoroughly. It has helped me reflect. At the end of a long day of his obsessions, stimming, and tantrums, I sit and write and untangle it all until it becomes meaningful for me.

And likewise, after a day where he says sentences with a lot of words and shows me his quick smile and finishes his math worksheet without exploding, I sit and write and quietly celebrate.

Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?

Unfortunately, I do not outline. I do keep a journal full of notes—funny things the kids say, interesting situations—and use them as a starting point. I typically start an essay or a piece first thing in the morning, and mull it over through the course of the day while I drive small people to gymnastics and cook Shake & Bake for dinner. Then, once the house is quiet again at night, I return to the computer and color in the details.

Are there any books on autism that stand out in your mind as the most inspiring and helpful?I

I thoroughly enjoyed Temple Grandin’s books, The Way I See It, and Thinking in Pictures. I was also inspired by her mother, Eustacia Cutler’s book, A Thorn in My Pocket.

Also, Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird has been very helpful when I feel overwhelmed at the task of writing another chapter, another essay, another sentence.

What have you learned from this experience?

I have learned—cliché alert—that I can do something once I put my mind to it. I have learned that my husband is a generous person who will give me the time and space I need to be creative.  I have also learned that making my family come alive in my writing has helped me enjoy and appreciate them even more in real life.

What advice you would like to give parents of autistic children?

I would tell moms and dads of an autistic child to get help when they need it, whether that help is in the form of a great babysitter who gives you time to yourself, or a psychologist who helps you figure out why your son or daughter is wiping soap all over the walls.

I would tell them to hang in there and to hold on, because one day they will realize that they have been given a gift in their extraordinary child.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best parenting advice I’ve been given has been primarily practical. Back in Buffalo we had a pediatrician—a towering Chinese man in his forties—who told us that babies need to learn to sleep and it’s our job to teach them.

Our psychologist once told us to always assume our children’s behavior has a purpose. This single piece of advice re-shaped my perspective as a mother and helps me deconstruct my children’s motives and emotions throughout the day, especially Jack’s.

And when I was a small girl my mother always said never put anything in writing unless you’re sure you want people to read it.  I’m not certain if this was good advice or not, but it’s always stuck with me.

What are you working on now?

At this point I’m writing weekly posts for my blog and quarterly submissions for Autism Spectrum News. I’m also trying to learn how to do a pull-up unassisted.

——-

Carrie blogs regularly on her website and shares humorous, poignant and eye-opening stories of life in the Cariello house.

Boston

Posted by admin on April 16th, 2013


Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the tragedy that occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. We are truly devastated by this tragic event.