"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The full court press

First of all, Happy Cinco de Mayo! I'd say something pithy in Spanish but I don't speak the language – just ask the guys who take care of my horses. Who knew, when I was learning French in Illinois, that I'd be moving to California? All I can say is, "dos cervezas, por favor," but I don't drink beer. I can also say, "what a dump," in Italian, which is inappropriate no matter where I am.

On to today's post.

Three is not my favorite number, and yet it appears to rule my writing. My descriptions tend to fall into phrases of three. Go back and skim through my previous posts if you want proof. For example, from yesterday, "I picture (Peri) having a hearty laugh, a quick mind, and the ability to enjoy fine things without needing them." You see the pattern? Phrase-comma-phrase-comma-and-phrase-period.

And, because I like to write humor, the last phrase is usually the punch line.

I mention this because people have commented on it, warned me to be careful of overdoing it, and – wait, I didn't want to have three phrases there. See how addictive it is?

I even began this Blog-A-Day challenge by talking about cars for three days in a row. My plan was to talk about Peri for three days, then something else for three days, then… Then I stopped and slapped myself in the back of the head, which is not as easy as it sounds.

So I'm going to break my obsessive pattern today and talk about something completely different: press kits.

According to everyone who is trying to sell a book, you need a press kit. When I first heard about this, I pictured a vacuum-sealed box of parts that some reviewer/reporter would piece together to make a model of my book.

Apparently, that's not what it looks like. It's actually a packet of information. I've been reading Nikki Leigh's Book Promo 101, and she says it needs to include the gizmos an author needs to get their book out to the public in a quick and easy way. It sounds like it needs to be flexible, to spin a book toward the correct audience. And it must be written in an engaging yet concise way.

Right, I'll just whip that out.

For example, Freezer Burn takes place in north Orange County, and mostly Placentia, so I might want part of my press kit to focus on the media in southern California and isn't cool to have a mystery in your own backyard.

Then again, Peri is a 50-year old working gal, so maybe I need to spin some of my publicity toward women's clubs.

And she loves dirty martinis, so I should definitely hit up the bars.

Okay, maybe not.

Do I have a kit yet? No. Am I working on it? Yes. Am I floundering about, having a hard time focusing on each of the various pieces of the whole? Oh, yeah, baby. Good thing I'm a stubborn gal and know I'll finish it.

How about any of you? Do you have a press kit? Was it easy to put together? What helped you? What hindered you?

Tomorrow, I'll talk about Peri again. I promise.


joe doaks-Author said...

Hi, Gayle,

I, too, am addicted to threes...no pun intended.

Just last week I put together most of my Press Kit. I wander other author's sites and tried to find common items, or, things that made sense. My kit isn't yet finished, but, it's mostly complete. Feel free to look, there's a link to it under the "Press, News, & Reviews" menu item. If you find any useful Ideas, take 'em with you.

Best Regards,

Lynnette Labelle said...

I do the three thing, too. I'm not sure if I overdo it, but I'm aware that's in my writing... Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I can't always have "this and that" type writing either. LOL The key is to mix it up with several sentence styles, but still staying true to your own style.

Since you're a writer, you might be interested in a writers' support group called Writers_on_Writing. I blogged about it yesterday. If you're interested, check it out. If not, maybe you know someone who'd like to join.

Lynnette Labelle

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good Morning, Gayle. Your post is funny! You should be encouraged that the rule of three in humor writing--using that funny punch line as the third element in a series--is something I just learned about in a conference workshop on humor writing. Using the technique too often would dilute its effectiveness, of course, but when well done can make the reader laugh out loud.

On press kits, there's nothing scientific about my method. I throw together a press kit based on who I'm sending it to. Each one is different, each has its own press release title and focus, and each one contains at least one copy of a review (assuming I have a good one).


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Got a laugh out of your post! My press kit is a work in progress as I continually change or add to it. Hope to have it perfected one of these days.

Jane Kennedy Sutton

KK Brees said...

I love the humor. Could relate very well to your situation. The Rule of Three however, is embedded in our culture. Just don't go to Four and try to peddle your book in Japan - it's the kiss of death (sorry, couldn't resist)

C. Margery Kempe said...

I have a variety of press releases all of which include bio info and the sell info. I was thinking I needed some little trinkets, too. Maybe some Finnish Panda candy or packets of Finnish coffee. Maybe a CD of kantele music!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Oh, that's funny. I find myself writing in patterns sometimes, too. I'll do the series of three, or I'll have my dialogue in a particular pattern (he said "..", she said "...", he said "..",)

No press kit for me yet. But I have pics, synopses, cover images where I can readily access them.

Jina Bacarr said...

Taking your pattern of "threes" full circle:

1 -- reading your post and loving it!! Everyday you make me laugh.

2 -- learning so much from the comments, a real treasure trove of information and ideas.

3 -- adding something of my own: Annie Jennings PR has a fascinating site with articles and lots of teleseminars: http://anniejenningspr.com/

Thank you,

Alexis Grant said...

Hi Gayle,

I'm not to this point yet, but I do think I'll have an advantage when I get there: I've received/read/thrown out so many press kits because I'm a journalist! So I know what makes a good one and what fails. My advice: Make it short and sweet. Keep the press release to one page.

If you ever want me to look over anything, I'm happy to do it.


Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

Catching up on posts - funny one! I'm stumbling about on my press kit too . . .

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