Hi, all – Ava Pennington here. Happy Valentine’s Day a few days early! February is the month of hearts, flowers, and love notes.

Whether or not you write love notes to that special someone in your life, every author should be writing love notes…to their readers! Okay, maybe not love notes, but we should be keeping in touch with our readers on a regular basis, and email newsletters are an effective, low-cost way to do it.

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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.



Sundin #D70 ©2008 Linda Johnson Photography web (2)

Good day from Sarah Sundin in northern California, where the fog is almost making it feel like winter. Today I have the privilege of interviewing Donn Taylor, a man with a diverse and impressive list of achievements. Donn led an infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, holds a PhD, taught college-level English literature, writes poetry – oh, and he has two published novels. I told you it was impressive.

Donn, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles? Donn Taylor

I’ve published two novels and one poetry book. The first novel was The Lazarus File, a suspense novel about spies, drugs, and airplanes in the Caribbean, published by the now-defunct Panther Creek Press (www.panthercreekpress.com). The second novel is Rhapsody in Red, from Moody Publishers, a light-hearted mystery set on a college campus, including satire of the college scene and political correctness. Read More →



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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_09X5241-PS-ava4x6-72dpi Hi, all – Ava Pennington here. I had planned to offer a greeting from warm and sunny Florida, but we're in the middle of a cold spell (well, cold for us, anyway!). That's okay, because the brisk weather just makes it feel all the more like Christmas!

My last several blogs have been about the launch party for my first book, One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God. Now that the book launch party was a success and my book has been available for two months, what’s next?

Once the launch party ended, there was still much for me to do. My follow-up list included the following tasks:

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