At some point, you will write a press release and send it out in hopes of garnering some publicity. And, if that release and the email that delivers it are written well, it certainly will. Having had more than 2800 press releases published over the years, I’m familiar with what it takes.
Learning to write copy has served me well in both my publicity and article writing and that’s how I’ve earned money with my freelance writing. I spent a year studying with the AWAI which stands for American Writers and Artists, Inc. and it was worth every dollar and every hour I invested. Then I spent several years writing for hire. I was more successful after year two. Some of this is doing the best you can, failing and then doing it again, only better.
That being said, these tips might help you to focus on the things that will get your emails read by that editor, agent, or media contact.
1. The purpose of writing copy is to capture the attention of the reader/addressee, in the 40 seconds in which you have to do that.
2. Know who your market is and do the research needed to know EXACTLY who your market is and the best way to reach them. Study the publication’s guidelines and make sure you know who you are addressing in your email. Spell their name correctly, please!
3. What problem does your article solve for them? How will it make their life better (non-fiction)? Or, how is your novel different from all the others in the genre? What makes it unique? Identify that, even if it takes you weeks to do so. Write it down in one short sentence (less than 10 words.) Then you’ll understand how to write powerfully and to the point.
4. TITLE your email (Subject) like it’s a headline in the GLOBE! Getting people to open emails is the first hurdle; getting them to read them is the second. Per Brian Clark of “How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Copyblogger.com), the headline is a promise to the reader. It’s job is to communicate the benefit you’ll deliver in exchange for their valuable time.
5. Put the most important information in the first paragraph! And lead with a good hook – just like you would on the first page of your novel or the opening paragraph of an article. Make every word count.
In my mind, these tips apply to every type of writing. I use them in writing press releases, short stories and my novel-length manuscripts as well. And, as Copyblogger often reminds us, it’s important to use our knowledge and craft in every letter and email as well.
As writing professionals, you’ll do your career a big favor by treating it like it IS a career.
Keep reading and writing! Nancy Q.