Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pitching Bloggers, Great Marketing Copy

Ever since I became a blogger in May I knew that I would eventually get pitched by publicists and authors about their books, and I welcome that.  I would like to review more books but I’m surprised at the poor quality of the pitches that I’m sent. I won’t name names but mainstream publishers have sent me pitches about books that are quite irrelevant to one who writes on marketing and media.  Further, I rarely get anything that acknowledges the sender knows my blog. The pitches lack personal touches and often consist of press releases that are too long and self-serving.  I feel ashamed for the PR industry. My hope is that people will wise up and only send out pitches that are relevant, tailored to the recipient, short, and filled with useful information and less hype.  Just as bad, I’ve received the same pitch more than once, separated by a few days. If you don’t realize you just pitched me, you shouldn’t be sending stuff out that says the exact same thing.  Learn from this or you’ll waste your time and turn off the people you need to impress.

Great Marketing Copy

To generate a book sale with a flier, ad, or email, you must have a good product, offered to a targeted group of people in need of it, at a reasonable price. Your written material needs to take these potential customers and covert a certain percentage of them into buyers. So how do you do that when you are putting your marketing copy together? Follow these rules:

1.      Employ a catchy headline.
2.      Add an engaging image.
3.      Be specific and get to the point.
4.      Tell the reader what action-step should be taken.
5.      Anticipate objections by offering answers in the form of declarative statements.
6.      Answer their questions:  How much? Why now? Why you and not someone else?
7.      Connect on a personal level and get them to like you.
8.      Focus on benefits and results – not features.
9.      Use an easy-to-read font.
10.  Use customer-centric copy – a lot more “you” than “we” or “I” emphasized.
11.  Engage with action-verbs so you can jumpstart your readers’ response.
12.  Repeat your strong points, using different wording each time.
13.  Never name the competition. Why tell others who else to shop from?
14.  Never use specific references to (or opinions of) politics, religion or sex – you’re bound to offend too many people.
15.  State a special offer with a sense of urgency (and a deadline) but not desperation.

Goodbye, Andy Rooney

While growing up with 60 Minutes in my household I fell in love with the artful curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, who always made some interesting points at the end of every show. He seemed old from the very beginning but his desire to criticize society and challenge the follies of human nature was youthful.  He always seemed smarter than everyone else because he pointed out the stupidity in others, while acknowledging he had his own quirks and annoyances that others would find upsetting. Although I haven’t watched him as often I would have liked to these past few years, I was saddened to learn of his recent retirement and subsequent death at age 92.  I’m sure there will be other great essayists and TV personalities to come fill the void, but he seemed like a one-of-a-kind.  I wonder if people will mourn the passing of bloggers 30 years from now the way people pine for Andy Rooney.

Goodbye, Smokin’ Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier died the other day from cancer at age 67. I fondly recall watching him fight a few times when I was growing up a young Brooklyn boy. He will be remembered as a warrior in the boxing ring – an Olympic champion fighter and a world heavyweight champion pugilist. He, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali made boxing a popular spectator sport in the 1970s. He deserves to be honored as a hero of his day. However, boxing as a sport should be banned from America if our country is to move in the right direction. It may seem strange to eulogize a man and then lobby for the demise of his profession, but I can understand that boxing has been a legal sport that has entertained millions and provided a stage to display courage and athleticism. And I can understand that boxing is barbaric and not only poses harm to its participants, but a greater harm to its audiences who watch and take joy in seeing one human being pummel another. How can we say boxing is a sport when what is done in the ring is a crime outside of it? If our society is to advance, it will not be with boxing sanctioned as a legitimate sport.

Interview With Author and Editor Irene Gowins-Sowells

  1. As an author and an editor which do you believe is harder—to write and create or to edit another’s work? In my opinion-editing another author’s work is harder. Writer’s have unique minds.  They have intriguing ways of expressing themselves. It’s fascinating to see how each writer thinks. How they start a project, with so much ambition. Bring it all together vigorously and brilliantly, close and seal the deal. Bringing you a vision-captured in their mind.   I remember when I was a Journalist for Nielsen Television ratings. I turned my project in and one of the editor’s-changed so much of it. My vision was taken away.   You don’t want to eliminate an author’s vision. You may have you’re individual thoughts-when looking at another writer’s creation. You tend to think-what you  “would-do” with it or what you “can-do” with it, but it’s not your story.  It’s not your vision. “It’s theirs.” So you have to stay focused and allow yourself to remember-the work at hand is another person’s vision, another author’s artwork.  You have to discipline yourself.

  1. What do you find to be rewarding and challenging about you’re writing career? Completing a novel is one of the rewarding parts of my career. There’s nothing like the feeling of ending that master piece. When you finally get that finished novel in your hands. You get a feeling of accomplishment. Like nothing can stop you. You set a goal, and you’ve reached expectation. You look at you’re Completed Novel-looking at the cover and the picture on the back. You see yourself and about the author. You smile because it’s you.  Surreal and beautiful moment.  Both of my books “Rhythm and Blues” and “Caught UP” Gives me a great feeling of accomplishment but it’s my sequel to Caught Up that’s really rewarding. I’m working on that now. It’s called “Caught Up Again” That book-I feel will be my greatest reward. I also find it rewarding-reading other author’s work. Then-meet them, and they’re talking to me about my work. That is so cool.  When you began to interact with celebrities and people in the industry you have idolized all your life-that’s rewarding. When you have helped another writer find his  way in the industry, that’s rewarding.
I have overcome a plethora of adversities. I come from a very strong,  Matriarchal family whose teachings and support allowed me the strength to carry on. With that strength I was able to turn adverse experience into shared visions for all. “My soul cries out to be heard –So I write” Anyone that read or listens,  can hear and feel my passion, my tears, my pain, my joy, and my fears.  There will always be challenges.
One challenge in my career would be keeping up with social networking and writing. I think there’s way too many networking sites lol. Trying to network, write, edit and all the other things that come in-between, it’s very challenging.  When I first came into the business- I actually thought, all I had to do was write the books. I was na├»ve at the time.
Not knowing anything regarding the publishing industry. However, I’ve learned a lot in my years in the business. I acknowledge there’s much more to learn. And I’m grateful to those that have taken me under their wings and guided me. I’ve also learned that sleep is a part of the past lol. But, I’m focused and up for the challenges.
  1. What do you love most about being part of the book publishing world? The thing I love the most about being in the publishing world is the support from the wonderful, talented people you meet in the industry. So many people embrace you.  I was truly amazed at the level of kindness-from so many of them.  I met some amazing people that took the time to help each other, you don’t see that every day. They have no problem answering questions if you need help,  they offer advice As well-as support. They encourage each other and that truly touched me. They have reached out in so many ways to lend a hand and help each other to succeed. I thought that was amazing. I love that the most!  “I’m not implying they’re all that way, but the one’s I’ve met are super!”

  1. Where is the publishing industry heading? In my opinion, I believe the industry is heading all digital. It’s not something we want to hear. Some of us-love our paper books, but times are changing. As an author- I think “What will become of book signings?” I don’t have an answer for that. However,  I have to adjust with time. “No” everyone doesn’t own a nook, or an ipad etc. but the way things are headed, eventually they will own some sort of electronic reader. The Publishing industry will be fine. It’s headed towards the future.

  1. What advice would you give to authors looking to publish a great book? My advice is simple. “Don’t Rush.” When you’re too anxious you make a lot of mistakes. You’re excited about you’re project. You told you’re friends and family, now you want to get it published.   “Don’t rush.” Take your time and research companies. Research editors and agents. I emphasize the research… Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get an agent. There are other options. Contrary to what some say about self publishing. There are good companies out there. There’s also other author’s that publish books.  

I suggest that you join a few writers’ groups. I myself have joined a few-I’m very happy with. You’ll get a lot of helpful tips from other writers on techniques’ Publishers, editors, as well- as a reviewer’s. Writer’s go into these groups and ask questions all the time. They are looking guidance, just like you. Don’t be afraid to ask author’s advice. “What do you have to lose?”  You may be surprised at how nice some of them can be. If they’re not deep into a project they may have time to answer.  If you’re serious about your work-don’t ever give up. You may hear that a million times. That’s because “the road isn’t easy” and you may need to hear it a million more. “Don’t give up.”  One of my favorite quotes: Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer. I’m an avid reader-who became an author and that’s the story of many.” -- John O'Hara

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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