It started with the local newspaper asking me to write a monthly column.
I live in a small town, population 25,000. Everybody knows everybody. I graduated in this town, moved away, came home after 33 years. I'm the local mystery writer.
One of my first columns was about a speaker presentation at the county library. The librarian contacted me to thank me. She said they had a hard time getting publicity.
Publicity isn't as difficult as people make it. Okay, I have a degree in journalism, and I worked as a reporter for a newspaper. But, anyone can learn to write a press release. The media is easy to penetrate. Their business is to fill pages, and the less work they have to do hunting up stories, the better.
I decided to give the library a hand. They needed a local authors program, but didn't have any idea how to flush writers out of the woodwork. Through my own writing, I had connections. I also used the Internet to scout out authors. I write detective fiction and have worked with narcotics detectives in one of my past occupations. If I could find drug dealers, how hard could it be to find authors?
Next, I made a few simple phone calls and created a list of media contacts. They like info FAXed to them, and I have two tricks to get attention. First, I use a letterhead. Always impressive. Next, I make sure I list a specific person as recipient. That's to ensure that it reaches the reporter's mailbox and not the trash can. I also note the timetable each publication has for their Community Calendar. Public Radio likes three weeks notice.
My town has a total of two reporters on the newspaper, and one is the editor. Both are women my age and we know each other. I volunteered to write interviews on the authors I was bringing in to speak. For other publications, I provide contact info for radio and press interviews.
What's in it for me? Name recognition. Community contact. Support and sales for my own books. Endearment from authors for helping with their promotion and sales (I can be very endearing). Oak Tree Press will benefit. Oh, and the Poets & Writers wants to give me a grant.
The point of my blog is this: in the writing world, it pays to go beyond your own self-interest. It takes little time but lots of initiative. Authors who wait for the media to discover them are missing opportunities.
A little generousity goes a long way. The author who suceeds is the one who goes beyond self-promotion.