DSC_5037_3 Aloha from Karen

Next week I’ll be teaching at the Florida Christian Writers Conference. Preparing to go is also a time I reflect on all that happened over the years of attending conferences. Amazingly, it’s been short, quick chats that led to many books.That’s a good reminder to connect with anyone, and make the most of every opportunity.

Let me share a few of those past chats and what happened.

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2009Fave1Dear Fellow CANers:

I’m Ann Byle, a CAN member from way back. I’m a freelance writer for The Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Mich., as well as other publications including Kyria.com and Publishers Weekly. Before turning freelance 13 years ago, I was the book review editor at The Press. I received many press releases then; as a freelancer I have often done stories based on hard copy or email press releases.

There is a fine line between sending a press release too early and sending it too late. Too early and the assigning editor loses it in the pile on her desk or in his back emails. Too late and the editor can’t get someone to do the story to make the section deadline.

There are a number of sections in the newspaper printed early (for example, our local Your Life section for Sunday is printed the Wednesday before, which means stories must be done the Friday before that) so press releases must arrive early enough to accommodate those deadlines. Our Saturday Religion section must have stories turned in by Tuesday night at the very latest, which means stories must be assigned the week before.

So, first, figure out which section of the newspaper you’re targeting and find out when the section is printed. For the sections printed daily, such as Region/Metro, the A section, Sports, and Business, early press releases are nice but not mandatory. These editors and reporters are used to working on a quick deadline. Still, give them a few days before the event you’d like covered.

I suggest sending a press release two weeks before an event you want in the daily, and three weeks ahead for sections printed early. If it’s an especially big event, send it four weeks early and follow up with another release a week later, then another. Follow up on all press releases if you don’t hear anything. It’s best to do this via email, which means you’ll need to find out which editor or reporter to email. Most stories and mastheads now contain email addresses for reporters and/or editors.

The assigning editor must have time to assign the story and the reporter must have time to write it, which means contacting you for an interview, doing the interview, arranging art, and actually writing the story.

Website may be a different story, seeing as a website can post whatever you send. But websites also have regular reporters who write stories, some based on press releases.

Magazines? They work 2-3 months out most of the time so you’ll have to send way early. Local magazines and newspapers often have an events calendar that you can use, usually for free. Send your even notice to the most appropriate calendar (Religion, Book, Cultural Arts, etc.), making sure to put “Calendar Item” in the message field or on the envelope and address it to the appropriate person.

Email or hard copy press releases? Both work, but you have to get them to the correct person at the newspaper or magazine. I tell people they can do things one of two ways:

1. Send a press release to the newspaper and hope it catches the eye of the right editor, or the editor you send it to has time to consider and assign the story. The benefit of this is that you go right to the newspaper and the editor you want. The downside is that press releases get lost amid the chaos.

2. Contact a freelancer you know, who can then ask the publication about a story. The newspaper (hopefully) trusts the freelance to give them good story ideas, which the editor can then assign with a few keystrokes. (Something like, “Good idea, Ann. Please write the story and get it to me by . . .”) The benefit is that there is a known writer offering a story that she’s willing to write for that editor. The downside is that you’re not going right to the newspaper itself.

While I haven’t specifically addressed radio stations and other forms of media, the same principles apply: send early but not too early, search out the appropriate person to send it to, and follow up.



JillWilliamsonNewSmallYour publisher will likely submit your book for review to some people and magazines. Just because they do doesn’t mean everyone will review it. It also doesn’t mean every review posted will be a positive one. That’s the nature of book reviews.

So why bother?

Because people notice. Maybe some people read online reviews. Maybe they don’t. But most people notice whether a book has 0, 15, or 400 book reviews. And that tells a potential reader something right away. It tells them whether or not people are reading the book.

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Author, Ava Pennington

Hi, all – Ava Pennington here. Happy New Year, everyone!

New year, new calendar. I love the potential of a brand new calendar, don’t you? All those pristine pages with their empty little boxes…well, they started out pristine when I unwrapped the cellophane. But they’re filling up quickly!

As I look back on the past year, I had so many thoughts about how to market my book. I had planned certain tasks for six months before publication, three months before, the month before, the week of…you get the idea. Unfortunately, the calendar got away from me, and many of those ideas remained unfulfilled. I began to view the dwindling calendar as my enemy.

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Merry Christmas From Cheri Cowell

Now don’t turn me off before hearing me out. I’m not talking about the annoying and sometimes over-the-top commercial marketing all of us are tired of by now. I’m referring to the marketing God did that first Christmas to tell the world about His great gift. What do I mean by calling God’s work marketing? Marketing in the positive sense means sharing the good news about something so as to entice others to [join, buy, get, receive or] desire to have. There are three things we can learn from God’s marketing plan—three things you and I can use in our own speaking and writing.

First, God used targeted marketing. He used a star to guide the Wiseman or astrologers, as some biblical scholars call them. For the shepherds in the fields, He sent a host of angels to calm their fears and tell them what to do. To Mary God sent an angel and the wisdom and assurance of Elizabeth. And to Joseph He sent the unmistakable Word of God to help a good man make the right decisions. God knew His audience and spoke to them using the language and method best suited for each. Who is your audience? What is their language? Are they on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, do they belong to MOPS or Book Clubs?

Second, God sold the sizzle. For each person or group of people, God chose what would excite them and shared that. God didn’t serve the whole meal when only the appetizer was needed. To the Wiseman He said the star would lead them to the promised Messiah—He didn’t tell them about Herod and their need to avoid him on their way home until that information was necessary. Likewise, you and I don’t need to tell everyone the ten points we cover in our book or message when we are simply enticing them to enjoy a taste. What is the one thing they need to hear now, so later they will hunger for the whole meal we are ready to serve?

Third, God gave. Still the most astounding part of the Christmas story is that God gave it away for free. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t charge for our books and speaking, but what are you and I giving away for free? I have found I’m unable to out-give God. I started by giving away bookmarks with a poem a friend wrote for the closing of my presentation, and people bought things from my book table that went with that bookmark. Then I took a leap of faith and changed my fee structure—I charge a flat fee per person for speaking which includes a free autographed book (and for retreats it includes the companion workbook, too). I thought back of the room book sales would be gone, after all everyone already had a free autographed book, right? Wrong. They wanted to buy a book for a friend “since they already had a free one for themselves…” God gave. How can you give away more in this coming year? Just try to out give God…and may you have a Christmas filled year!