Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writing a background article for your publicity package

A few weeks ago, I started a short series on preparing a publicity package. Here’s the second part. Sorry for the long delay. Life sort of got in the way...

All authors except the big fish in the pond pretty well have to come up with their own promo materials these days. Some enlightened publishers will help out with this, but many won’t or can’t do a top drawer job of it. Believe me, it is in an author’s best interest to be able to put a very professional face on all promotional efforts.

Case in point: you finally get a local newspaper or maybe even one of the large regional papers to show some interest in you and your new book. The first thing they’ll ask for is your promo package. They don’t want to see something you’ve cobbled together at the last moment. If you can hand over a pro-looking package, you’re saying something extra about yourself, beyond the content. You’re saying that you’re a pro, too. Of course it looks better if you can refer them to a professional promotional agency, but if you want to go that route, you have to know that it’s going to cost beaucoup dollars and results from your investment can be, to say the least, wildly uneven. My feeling is to do it yourself, certainly until you’re not going to be spending your entire advance against royalties (and then some) on hiring a book promotion specialist.

On to the background article. What you’re going to be doing here is writing the article you’ve always wanted to see about yourself. You’ll need history/background about you, your writing, your books (especially the new one!), and I usually leave some space at the end to work in a local connection/colour if at all possible. Remember though, that this is a sales piece. There’s no place for false modesty here. You can always make up some sort of story about who wrote it for you if you’re uncomfortable about tooting your own horn in this way. (Don’t fib and make up a story about a previous publication. Another media outlet is very likely to look up an online version.) As stated at the top: make it the article you’ve always wanted to see about you and your writing. Make it compelling, interesting and as unique as possible. It's not hard to do. After all, you write fiction more than likely, don't you? ;)

I’ve been told that a background article can be up to 2000 words (a full-page for a newspaper, roughly). In other words, don’t worry about your piece being too long. They’ll take what they want and tailor it to their needs. One happy thing that can happen is they are just on the lazy side and run the article as you’ve sent it, a real bonus. I usually send the piece as a Word document since pretty well everyone can handle that. Use a common typeface like Times or Helvetica so it won’t open all weird because they don’t have the same fonts on their system.

You should also send (if it’s in print form) a good-quality author photo and a cover photo of the book. It should be in colour if at all possible. If you’re sending the promo package in electronic form, the above two images should be high-resolution for printing, that is 300 dpi (Dots Per Inch) at 100% size. Send it as a JPEG since that file size is smaller. Their design people can handle any conversions needed for outputting.

See you in print!


dissertation writer said...

very cool psot! thanks!

research paper said...

Thanks for the tips!

Rick Blechta said...

You're both most welcome. A good promotional package is not all that difficult to put together. You just have to learn to express yourself like the late great Arthur Schiff who could sell anything to anyone. Remember Ginsu knives? That was him. Ever heard the phrase, "But wait! There's more?" Schiff again.

Good luck with your packages!

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