You’d think it would be easy for a writer to string the right words together in a media release. But this isn’t fiction, is it? This is about selling yourself. This is about standing out from all the other news going on at the moment. I’d already delayed the releases to avoid competing with the EU referendum. As it turned out, my first attempt at a media release was about as wild as most of the propaganda.
“Amazing new novelist publishes brilliant first book that leaves readers gasping for more.”
It sounded good, but sadly, it wasn’t accurate. Did readers gasp?
After much deliberation and revisions, I settled on ‘local environmental health officer publishes first novel’. Mundane, but accurate, and maybe worthy of a few column inches in the local newspapers and magazines. I also tried the Bury Times in Lancashire. I lived there for 17 years and started my career in the town. Having left Bury 33 years ago, I couldn’t see them being interested, so I titled the release ‘local lad publishes first novel’, thinking it sounded more colloquial.
At the same time I was being interviewed by Will Hatchett, editor of Environmental Health News, my profession’s monthly magazine. He was asking some interesting questions that needed considered answers. ‘Amazing new novelist publishes brilliant first book that leaves readers desperate for more’ didn’t quite work. Did readers get desperate? Only for better answers, I suspect.
Then on Thursday afternoon, the day before we were due to go to Bakewell in the Peak District for a week, a reporter from the Bury Times contacted me, wanting more information on this local lad. My answers confirmed I was once local and a lad. Once he had all the background he needed, he surprised me by saying the piece would appear in next Thursday’s edition, unless other news took priority.
One week later, there it was on the internet version of the Bury Times, under the headline, ‘Ex-council officer uses health and safety expertise to craft murder mystery’. It was a lovely write up that even prompted an old friend I’d lost touch with to contact me.
Ironically, that evening, I discovered a short book on my Kindle about writing the perfect press release. Guess what? That’s right, in my ignorance I’d broken most of the rules. That probably explains why the local Sussex papers, with the exception of one, aren’t gasping for news on the amazing new novelist that lives in their area.
As always, it looks like there’s plenty to learn.
So, I’ll start with a new media release to the local radio and TV stations. ‘Suave and sophisticated ex-Council worker bursts onto the scene with a murder mystery that will leave readers dying for more.’
Yeah, I think that should do it.