Tag Archives: publicity

PR advice for writers from Jeff VanderMeer

Booklife by Jeff VanderMeerHyperprolific author and anthologist Jeff VanderMeer recently completed and submitted Booklife, a non-fiction book about the writing life that promises to be full of insight, harsh truths, good ideas and (knowing VanderMeer) dark humour.

He’s been posting a few excerpts from it in various places, including a chunk of tips on PR and self-publicity for writers which are well worth reading even if you’re not a writer – they say a lot about the art of publicity in a world where everyone is already their own PR firm (whether they realise it or not).

That advice includes a warning on the dangers of listening to advice from those who aren’t as qualified to give it as they might like to think:

How did some of these people arrive at bad places? Horrible advice. Always keep in mind that advice, especially advice on promoting yourself, is often anecdotal or a Received Idea–received from a time machine from the Distant Past. Sincerely-given but idiotic career advice can be a shiv in the side, an icepick through the eye. Worse, it can result in a slow malarial fever from which you never recover, performing actions you later have no good rationale for doing. The worst career advice attempts to separate you from your work, you a shucked oyster wondering what happened, and why.

Price wars… in spaaaaaace

A man floating in zero-gravity yesterday (no, not really)Proof, if such were needed, that one should always shop around to ensure you’re getting the best value deal: RocketShip Tours are entering the space tourism market with a bargain price tag.

Upstarts RocketShip Tours and XCOR Aerospace say that the price of their flights, slated to begin as soon as 2010, will be $95,000, about half that of the ones being offered by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which also hopes to launch as early as 2010.

“Our goal is to make space travel accessible and affordable to those who aspire to experience the ultimate adventure,’’ said Jules Klar, CEO and chairman of RocketShip in a statement.

I hadn’t expected to hear much out of the space tourism outfits in the current economic climate, but beating one’s own drum as the cheaper option is probably the only announcement that won’t gather a lynch mob outside your HQ. The Boston Globe article is painting RocketShip’s announcement as the start of a ‘price war’, but given that neither outfit has actually completed one of their proposed tourism flights yet I suspect it’s more of a PR war than anything else.

Assuming that flights to and from orbit become commonplace (come on, allow me some optimism here, it’s been a long week), can we assume that there’ll be a similar spread of service suppliers as there currently is in the air travel market? Would you really want to take a jaunt to LEO with the aerospace equivalent of Aeroflot?

All of a sudden, I have a vision of space hobos jagging free rides on orbital freighters to see the sights and maybe find a few month’s work… and I find myself rather liking the idea of being the Jack Kerouac of the space generation. Time to ease up on the Dexedrine, maybe. [image by markjsebastien]

Authors: does your Wikipedia page keep getting deleted for low notability?

Then you may want to take a tip from this band. The Wikipedia rules state that everything on the site needs at least one verifiable mention in a reliable external source, otherwise everyone and his dog could have their own page. But you’re not allowed to write your own entry, either…

A member of the band, Killian’s Angels, noticed this when she checked the Wikipedia article about the soundtrack to the Grand Theft Auto IV video game, upon which the band appears. Every other band had a Wikipedia entry, so eventually one of the band’s fans wrote one about them — and it was deleted later that day because the band wasn’t, according to Wikipedia editors, “notable.” Cue the newspaper article…

… which, being a verifiable print publication, met Wikipedia’s notability criteria and allowed the page to go back up.

In other words, if you’re not in Wikipedia yet, get someone to run a story about how you’re not yet in Wikipedia. Ta-daah! I predict phones ringing in local newrooms in five, four, three…

How to Communicate More Effectively, Part 7 – Bringing it All Together

[How to Communicate More Effectively is a series of guest posts from Gareth L Powell. In case you missed ’em, here’s part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6.]

As writers, bloggers, editors and publishers, we’re in the business of communication. Over the last week, I’ve outlined one strategy you might use to get your message across to your audience. There are other methods, and I suggest you check out as many as possible, which is why I’ve included a list of reference books at the end of this post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. Personally, I’ve found the discipline necessary to write good marketing copy has helped me in my creative writing endeavours.

In summary, some final advice for you:

  • Know your audience and write for them.
  • Start with a killer title that they can’t resist
  • Hook them in with the first sentence and don’t let them go.
  • Get them emotionally involved as soon as possible. Make it personal. Give them a reason to care.
  • Use as many short sentences as possible to create pace.
  • Use evocative words that conjure impressions in all five senses – smell, taste, touch, sound, and sight.
  • Avoid clichés.
  • Use positive, action-packed phrases to make your prose come alive.

In these times of dwindling magazine subscriptions and slumping book sales, we need to use every tool we can in order to attract and retain our readership. If we put a fraction of the care and attention we invest in our creative endeavours into marketing them, I’m sure it’ll do us all the power of good.

Further Reading:

  • Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins (Free download: http://pge.rastko.net/etext/100010)
  • Write To Sell by Andy Maslen
  • The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
  • How to Write Sales Letters That Sell by Drayton Bird

How to Communicate More Effectively, Part 6 – Generate Action

[How to Communicate More Effectively is a series of guest posts from Gareth L Powell. In case you missed ’em, here’s part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.]

Having got your audience wanting to subscribe to your magazine, read your blog post, or sign up to your email newsletter, you simply have to close the deal.

You have to tell the reader what you want them to do. Would you like them to contact you? Would you like them to support your cause or buy your book? Or simply check out the other posts on your blog? In order to get them to act, you have to tell them exactly what you want them to do, and how to go about doing it. Keep it simple, direct and to-the-point. You’ve got them wanting your product; all you have to do now is to tell them how to get it.

In addition, you should make sure that what you tell them to do is easy and straightforward. It’s no good asking them to fill out an eight page online questionnaire in order to access your site, because they’re unlikely to bother. Instead, make your download available with one click. Allow them to subscribe online to your magazine. If necessary, give them a phone number and an email address for queries. Make it easy for them to contact you (or take the action you want them to) and they will.

For example:

  • Order online by March 1st
  • Download the new issue FREE by clicking here
  • Send your completed order form to this address
  • Follow this link to buy “A Guide To Space Monsters” on Amazon