Calling All Free Press

I now have three months of marketing under my belt, I think that officially moves me from laymen to novice.  Whatever the terminology is there are a few things I have learned along the way–yes some of this may be repetitive.  Free press is good press, even when it is sample press.  Think about it; when people are giving things away free do you usually try it? Whether you liked it or not many people do not scoff at swag.  Case and point: weekends at Costco for free sample day.  Can you really pass on a free sample of smoked honey bacon? Me either. And I also don’t pass on free memberships, free trials, and free press.

Now I’m not claiming to be some professional publicist or marketer, as stated before I am a novice.  However, i have tried almost every offer that has come my way.  If it doesn’t work then I’ve lost nothing but time, but odds are a handful of people were exposed to my book in that time.  Today I am going to talk about free press releases, so if you’ve considered hiring an agent to do this for you, hold your credit card for a minute and read this:

I have run the gambit of free press release sites and sites that charge.  Is there a difference? Of course.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for.  Free press release sites often have upgrades, but if you are as broke as I am then contributing monetary funds back into a dwindling deficit (I live in the states) isn’t an option I can readily afford.  If it is between paying a mortgage or buying a lofty press release package then I choose PR package, however as a responsible parent and sole provider of my family I must think in terms of meeting in the middle. Since Wells Fargo will not give me free occupancy I must settle for free press release.  I have thus far used four different free agencies, the one I like best is PR Log–as far as free sites go.  Granted there are hundreds of them, but you really have to research it all out.

Some sites do not let you enter links, pictures, or video without purchasing a package.  Other sites allow one of these features at the starving moocher level, and charge to upgrade from there.  I have found PR Log to allow all three even on their free service.  Disadvantages? Well, you have to write your own press release complete with snazzy caption to captivate the attention of the masses.  Is that easy? No way, but if you don’t get the results you want then you try again–FREE.  Another great perk that many free services do not offer is stats.  PR Log allows you to see the stats on your press release, this way you can see through trial and error what works best.

What I have noted is that having a catchy headline that pertains to something pertinent in the news or media is best.  Find a way to tie in your caption to the news. For father’s day my caption entailed my book being a great story about a father-son relationship. For Independence Day, my caption spoke of how the men in my story were always at battle.  My last caption spoke of Lou Gehrig’s disease in order to try and catch a new type of audience.  I have six releases out in all through PR Log and found that the ones sticking with the times and the one specific to a cause had the greatest amount and quickest views.

Does that help my sales? Not really, but that is hard to say since I can only check sales through Amazon.  I have not seen a huge spike in sales through Amazon after the press release, that doesn’t mean the book is not being purchased through Barnes & Noble, Chapters, Nook, or Ibookstore.  What I do see is a spike to my book website and personal website along with new hits to my book trailer.  I have tested this by not doing any other pr work the day before or after sending out a release, and “the survey says;” the spikes come within 48 hours of a press release.  Awesome.

Here is why I suggest a free release over a paid release if you are on a budget: paying for a service does not and can not guarantee sales.  If you write a crappy press release and pay $350 for it, its just a crap shot release that will not receive hits…but you paid for it.  And usually your $350 is good for ONE press release only. So unless you have the most amazing caption and press body then all the money in the world will not get you noticed.  Try using some free press sites first and see what caption, keywords seem to work best. Then if you really have to pay for a top notch release at least you will have some science behind you.

Also, many paid releases go to more agencies: bigger, better agencies.  But I still say without a great caption it just doesn’t matter.  If you are on a budget do not break the bank to get one press release out.  And if you feel the absolute need to do it, then wait for optimum timing. Wait for that perfect peak time when Venus aligns with the moon and the world is talking about Zombie Democrats and your book happens to be about zombie democrats.  Then all you have to do is capitalize on what is already selling itself.  Timing is everything.

So have I tried a paid site? As a matter of fact I have–in the name of literary-moneyless-indie author science. I purchased a medium sized package that wouldn’t break me or my family, which offered one week of releases: one free standard release a day as well as two premium releases in a week.  The premium releases allowed more links, one picture, and one video and was sent to more agencies than the standard release.  I did not do any free releases that week, and did the premium ones on a Sunday and then the following Friday to compare them with the stats of free press releases.

Drum roll……..

No difference at all. Same amount of video and website hits as free releases and again no spikes on Amazon.  In all fairness I can not say that some sites are better or worse than others. I did not try PRweb which is supposed to be the pinnacle of paid pr sites, but I also can not afford to take a risk anymore.  Free is just as good as paid, but I suspect if you wrote one truly astonishing release then maybe purchasing a bigger package and hitting a wider audience would be wise. My end statement is this: there is free out there.  It might not equal an immediate sale but it equals views and exposure and free exposure is as good as paid exposure.  In your arsenal of publicity and marketing should be a press release at least once a month if not twice a month.  Can you afford to pass up free?


Tania L Ramos is the author of When I Thought I Was Tough and Be Still.


11 responses to “Calling All Free Press

  1. Free is always better! Except, you know, when it isn’t, lol.

    Speaking of stats, there must be a way to track your book sales through iUniverse. Is there a page or something on the iUniverse site where that happens?

    • The only way to track outside sales on Iuniverse is by the monthly stats. They post sales at the end of the month, unless like in June, the end of the month is also the end of a royalty period. Then it takes 2 months to get your monthly totals. So I had no idea what I sold for May and June until August1st. BUT, if people buy direct from Iuniverse then you can see the update on that as soon as the item is shipped. Most people don’t buy from there though. So, it is a bit difficult to know your sales on sites other than Amazon.

      • Ah, ok. I was just freaking out for a minute there, because I started wondering about how to keep track of sales, and then I read some horror stories about iUniverse misrepresenting book sales, and then … yeah. I tend to get easily paranoid, lol. But you haven’t had any problems with that, right?

      • The funny thing about that is I have no idea if I’m being bamboozled or not. Unless I could track every sale I couldn’t really know if Iuniverse is paying the correct royalty. The 7 I know about are pretty accurate and, actually, more than I thought for that month. My mom has said some frineds purchased recently online, but I don’t know how many so I wouldn’t know what my actual sales are. The only ones I can somewhat accurately track are on Amazon author Central, but only track Amazon sales. This where I cross my fingers and hope that I am getting accurate info from Iuniverse. But I know how you is a hard thing when there are so many negative reviews about it.

  2. That was another excellent post today. You make it look so easy. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed reading it very much. Have a wonderful day!

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  3. Always great insight and tips–thanks, Tania–press forward! God bless you–Caddo

  4. Press releases? You would be a million times better off joining an actual community/messageboard related to what you are trying to push and being human. Talking, making friends and (barely) pushing your book. That’s how you get sales while being independent (well, it also helps to have a good product but…)

    And you pushing how you are a novice at the beginning, that was a turn off. I don’t think anybody thinks a person making a post on a topic is an expert on the subject but have some confidence in what you are writing 🙂

    • Hi Charlie,
      I’m on just about every social media site and community group and participate in clubs etc… To be honest about that, I have found some sites don’t have real people but prewritten postings blasted by some external website. It has been a real turn off as I have sought out real live people to communicate with. About the only ones I have found to offer that is this blog and LinkedIn, but even on LinkedIn it seems there are a million questions with no answers. Everyone has a topic to post, and short of adding your link there isn’t much substance.
      As far as stating I am a novice right off the bat, well it’s the truth, but that is what my blog is about. I wrote an entry not to long ago which talked about all these articles out there on how to become a huge seller, but most of those were geared toward authors with a huge following and many books out. I wanted my blog to hit new authors like myself, so I can teach what I have learned and build a fan following. I am exhausted over reading articles about how to sell books when those authors of the article are New York Times Best Sellers who started off with major book corporations. In my opinion, those articles are huge turnoffs to new authors like myself. And after talking with other new indie authors they are also turned off.
      But I agree with you that a press release is not the ultimate way to go. In fact I only send out about one every two weeks if not longer. They produce minimal results, but as my article stated: it is free and it is publicity, which does not necessarily equal sales but views.
      Thank you for your response. You make a valid point that I should not start off with, “i’m a novice,” as it may scare away the fish. And I do sincerely believe I have a GREAT product. Hows that for confidence 🙂

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