How the News Gets the News

We may get our news from popular media outlets like CNN, Fox News, CBS, or MSNBC, but where do they get their news from? Media outlets, and any other news source for that matter, get a large majority of their information from press releases. Press releases act as a medium between the source of information and media outlets. A company writes a press release to a media outlet if they think the information is noteworthy such as new technological developments, upper management changes, or even new book releases. Sometimes, a company will post press releases to their website for reporters who are searching for a story to write about. Other times, the company may contact the media directly through fax or e-mail.

The format of a press release differs from what you may be used to reading. A press release has, like most documents, a title. The title must be intriguing enough for a reporter or journalist to even want to begin reading the press release. Geoffrey James at CBS Money Watch writes about a press release with a terrible title sent to him:

“As a reporter, my immediate response to that press release was that it’s not important because it expended an entire sentence saying absolutely nothing. And I assumed (probably rightly) that the company’s marketing team was a bunch of idiots.”

A stack of newspapers.Press releases generally include the following information as well:

1) The Date of Release
This information is generally somewhere towards the top of the document—usually below the title.

2) Contact Information
Contact information of the person who wrote the press release is at the beginning of the document and often times scattered throughout. It is important that a reporter or journalist can get in contact with the author of the press release or a company’s marketing team. This information should not be difficult to find.

3) An Introduction
The introduction outlines the purpose of why the presented information is newsworthy. If possible, the introduction should answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why.

4) The Body
Information is thoroughly explained in the section. It needs to give context and detail about why the information is newsworthy. This section contains the main reason you would be writing a press release.

5) Boiler Plate
You may be familiar with a boilerplate as a standard set text for legal documents, but a boilerplate in a press release usually only contains information about the company. A boilerplate in a press release displays the company’s name and contact information for their marketing team.

6) The Close
Once all that is written, a press release must have a close. The close is not a summary paragraph, but a set of defined symbols which indicate the release is over. These symbols vary, but two common closes are “-30-” and “###.”

7) Contact Information
Unlike the boiler plate which contains the company’s contact information, this contact information is specific to the writer of the press release or the company’s marketing team. Typically, the author of a press release leaves a phone number, e-mail, and fax number.

While all important, some of these elements can be left out. Robert Wynne from Forbes suggests, “Headline. Opening Sentence. Body. (What’s the story, why does it matter?) Contact Information.” If you’re confused, you can examine the formats of different press releases and find common themes between companies. For an example, check out this press release from Publishers Weekly.

Even if you have all these elements perfectly written, the title is the most important. It is crucial the title is clear and concise, since it is the first—and usually the only—element a reporter will initially see. Reporters must scan through hundreds of titles a day. For yours to stick out, it needs to be attention grabbing and directly to the point. Avoid long strings of meaningless adjectives and prepositional phrases. This way, reporters are more likely to understand what your press release is about. If they understand your title, they’re more likely read to read the whole release.

What is a Backlist?

Did you know that many of the most well-known novels—even your favorites—are considered backlist titles? Everything from the Harry Potter series to Catcher in the Rye and The Handmaid’s Tale are backlist titles in the publishing industry.

A backlist is a publisher’s list of older books that are still in print, but have been on sale for more than a year. The backlist is the opposite of the frontlist, which is a publisher’s list of newly published book titles. Books often become a part of the backlist because there is limited shelf space in stores, which is usually designated for frontlist titles that a publisher is marketing extensively. Because the period in which a book title goes from frontlist to backlist is so short, most of a publisher’s title catalog consists of backlist books.

Photo by Robyn Budlender on Unsplash

All hope is not lost for a book when it becomes a backlist title. In fact, publishers rely on backlist titles to bring in steady revenue because, though the books may be older, they are still generating sales.

Publishers can focus their marketing on selling frontlist books while accumulating revenue from the trusty backlist titles. However, publishers also market backlist titles to generate more excitement and sales. Because backlist titles are available as e-books, their unit sales increase, which translates into more revenue for publishers.

Backlist titles also play an increasingly significant role in the revival of independent bookstores. Unlike major bookstore chains (who carry few backlist titles) and Amazon (which allows third-party sellers to make revenue off backlist titles), some independent bookstores buy in bulk from the publisher and sell a store full of backlist titles. This creates revenue for both parties and creates a direct connection with customers.

Titles such as Milk and Honey and Wonder, which have been best-sellers for at least three years, are still outselling some frontlist titles. This trend shows how valuable backlist titles are to the market. The availability of backlist titles improves the publishing market because the frontlist titles have to compete with them. Between e-books, Amazon, and independent bookstores, backlist titles have found a place in the market and will continue to compete with frontlist titles for best-seller status.

Next time you pick up one of your favorite books, remember it’s not just important to you, but also to the entire publishing industry. And when you want an older book, check out your local independent bookstore or buy from the publisher—you’ll be helping more than just yourself when picking up a backlist title!

What Bloggers Should Know About Copyright

Copyright In A Nutshell

The easily accessible pictures, gifs, and knowledge that lies at our fingertips has a serious downside. The over-production of images and ideas in today’s age has led to the plague of copyright infringement. This plague leads to many new hurdles for the already angsty and ruffled modern blog writer and leads us to the ultimate question: “How do I claim my art?” In order to answer this question, we must first ask ourselves what defines intellectual property. Intellectual property deals with what I like to call soul-creations. These creations range from music, literature, painting, graphic design, photography and other unique free-handed works.

Your art is your own personal testimony and it is your responsibility to properly protect your unique pieces. Blogs automatically protect authors’ ownership of their own intellectual property unless you have signed a document with your agency or blog provider stating otherwise. The Free Online Dictionary defines copyright as
a bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom they the originator transfers ownership) to make copies of the same for publication and sale (“Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016).

Copyright owners are the only ones who have this right to control the reproduction of their work. However, there is one main exception to this rule referred to as Work-For-Hire. Work-For-Hire is where you may sign your copyrights over to a professional agency and will no longer be the sole owner of your work. It is recommended that Freelance authors and bloggers read over Work-For-Hire agreements with lawyers and other professionals of their choice.

How To Claim Your Art

  • Purchase a copyright, patent, trademark and recognize that these are all under the law known as intellectual property.
  • Sign a Work-For-Hire agreement when working for an organization to make sure that your work is copyrighted under your employer or your individual name if you choose.
  • Place a copyright logo next to of each piece you have published to help prevent theft.

What You Should Do About an Art Thief

Just because you don’t work for an agency and did not sign any Work-For-Hire agreements your blog has an automatic copyright inscription called “air quality monitoring” simply because your name is on your web page. The law will back you up on the fact that no other blogger has the right to share your content without your permission.

Here are the three main steps to take if your work is stolen:

First Step: Confront the thief:

Get into contact with a lawyer or research a copyright infringement form and send it to the thief if your material is not immediately removed from their site.

Second Step: Write a Cease and Desist Order

A Cease and Desist order is a type of copyright infringement claim that grants you the right to take further legal action against the thief. You should send the thief the Cease and Desist letter so that you can prove their statement and resistance in court if they claim they are not violating your copyrights.

Last Resort Step: File a DMCA Complaint

A Digital Millennium Copyright Ace is a documented complaint to the blogger’s Web host. By filing a DMCA Complaint you are given the power to remove their blog from the public domain if the blogger is not in accordance with the Web host’s guidelines. You can also file a DMCA Complaint to Google Ads if a thief gains commission from allowing Google ads on their personal site.

What I Hope You’ve Learned

I hope that this blog will inspire you as a writer who displays your personal writing. My goal is to help you be more knowledgeable about your right to ownership of your public portfolios. This knowledge is especially vital when you rely on commission because the value of your art is dependent upon your investments in your education, materials, and original skill set. You deserve the proper appreciation for your yearly commitments that have enabled you to produce masterpieces in just a day’s time.

What do Publishers Look for in Potential Authors?

Every writer has the same dream: getting published. For authors who have never been published, the whole notion of publication can be intimidating. Sure, you may be confident in your ideas and writing abilities, but what do others think? The “others” the author has to fret over are those in the publishing industry, since they ultimately decide whether or not your work is acceptable for verified distribution to the masses. So the big question remains—how do I get my work published?

 

  1. Offer something original: Before you go into panic mode about there being no “original” concepts left, stop right there (but if you’re still worried read more about how to be original here: http://blog.ung.edu/press/?p=4069). Publishers have seen the whole gambit, so think about what you can provide that makes them think, “Wow, that’s an intriguing take on that.”
  2. Make sure your facts are straight: It is imperative that you perform the appropriate research on the topic that is both extensive and verified. Whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction, the facts that you present are what will make your writing convincing. In nonfiction (creative or otherwise), incorrect or dated facts can (and most likely will) ruin your chances of being published. As for fiction, if you create a fact about your character but then contradict or nullify it later without explanation, you’ve created inconsistency and the story is no longer
    Image provided by Flickr user redspotted. (No changes were made)
    Image provided by Flickr user redspotted. (No changes were made)

    believable.

  3. Get an agent– It is very rare that a publishing agency will take your submission if you are a) an unknown author and b) agentless. With the help of an agent, you are more likely to get offers on your work because they know who is most likely the best fit for your work. It also helps that most publishers work in tandem with agents to see what kind of pieces they are offering.
  4. Be a good business partner: Remember that getting published is making a business deal. Publishers want to sell an idea that is going to make money; therefore, you must prove that your piece can sell. Do your research, know industry standards, make deadlines, and always communicate with your agent and editor.
  5. Publishing is a process, and you MUST be patient: If you plan on seeing your work released several weeks after you sign for a deal, that is some wishful thinking. It takes on average a few months to a year to establish the production, marketing, and distribution of a work. A sooner release date can mean rushed writing, editing, and marketing—all of which can destroy the chances of your writing selling. Remember that there are multiple stages to create a finished publishable work and your piece isn’t the only project a publisher is producing; so, don’t rush things, trust your publisher, and be patient

 

Now that you have a better idea as to what publishers want in potential authors, you are one step closer to getting your writing produced so others may enjoy it. However, keep in mind that finding a publisher is not an easy task, and sometimes rejection is inevitable. But if you produce a concept that you are passionate about and that is of genuine quality, you are sure to find publishers willing to put your idea out there.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Great breast cancer awareness slogans

Breast Cancer Awareness from Rosie the Riveter, We Can Do It

According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), over 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the US alone in 2015. With all of the medical and technical advancements, this is a sobering statistic. The first step to fixing an issue is to recognize it, and October is dedicated to raising Breast Cancer awareness. For some, this is a time to honor the loss of a family member or friend, and for others, it’s a time of celebration for the survivors are living inspirations to others.

One attribute of the human spirit is our willingness to fight; we often shake our fist against the odds. This fighting spirit has brought forth some great advertising and awareness slogans for the fight against breast cancer. Today, the constant information overload flooding our lives often makes it difficult to reach audiences. But the clever and often humorous slogans brilliantly developed by writers have the ability to stick in the minds of people and, more importantly, raise awareness for the cause.

On the effectiveness of humor vs. information overload in advertising, Mark Levit, managing partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and marketing professor at NYU, commented:

Audiences like to be entertained, but not pitched. People will pay more attention to a humorous commercial than a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced (Levit, 2015).

This openness mentioned above explains the enormous success entertaining slogans have had in raising awareness about the fight against breast cancer. By approaching the tragic subject of Breast Cancer humorously, tensions and concerns of patients and loved ones are eased, and conversations are opened. It is this conversation that has helped do wonders for breast cancer awareness. We hope that you enjoy the following one-liners listed and that also you’ll take the time to bring your own awareness to help find a cure.

A Feel a day Keeps the Doctor Away.

Big or Small, Save Them All.

Boobs: They Could use Your Support.

Cancer is a Word, not a Sentence.

Check Your Bumps for Lumps.

Fight Like a Girl.

Ghosts and Goblins Don’t Scare me, I Survived Breast Cancer.

Real Men Wear Pink…for the Cure.

Save Second Base.

Save the Tatas.

Stop the war in my Rack!

Thanks For the Mammories.

Whoever Said Winning Isn’t Everything, Obviously Wasn’t Fighting Breast Cancer.

Yes my Boobs are Fake, my Real Ones Tried to Kill Me.

 

For more information on Breast Cancer feel free to visit any of these links:

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Institute

If you liked any of these slogans, join the fight today, BCRF has a great donations page filled with information and activities to raise awareness.

Citations:

Gaille, Brandon. “71 Catchy Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign Slogans – BrandonGaille.com.” BrandonGaillecom. August 10, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2015. http://brandongaille.com/71-catchy-breast-cancer-awareness-campaign-slogans/.

Levit, Mark. “Advertising, PR — Blogs, Articles and Jobs – Experience.com.” Advertising, PR — Blogs, Articles and Jobs – Experience.com. 2015. Accessed October 9, 2015.

 

 

What to do with an English Degree?

To some, English may seem like an impractical art, but its role in businesses and industries is profound. English majors are often teased for having limited job options after college, but writing, communication, and analytical skills are needed in almost every profession. If you are considering majoring in English or starting to look for potential jobs, these six professions may be a good fit.

  1. Publishing—If you like extensive editing, research, and the marketing side of writing, then a job in publishing is perfect for you. It takes a lot of patience to work at a press or publishing house. Every textbook, anthology, trade book (fiction/nonfiction), or journal goes through an extensive process before it hits the shelves. You also have to have knowledge in design programs, such as InDesign or Photoshop, as well as marketing and research skills to promote and sell the publications.
Random House is one of the largest publishing houses in America.
Random House is one of the largest publishing houses in America.
  1. Journalism—Similar to publishing, a job as a news reporter or editor is also labor-intensive. Required essentials are things like intensive research through interviews and on-site reporting. Journalism is a unique writing style following its own writing guidelines called Associated Press (AP) style. Journalism is factual based writing using simple, direct sentences. Additionally, journalists are responsible for reporting on tough and tense issues, so you have to have tenacity and confidence in your craft.
  1. Technical/Medical Writing—If hard news isn’t your style, consider a more straightforward type of writing. Technical writing is more business oriented, and relies heavily on your ability to communicate. Manuals, memos, letters, etc. are all examples of technical writing, and many organizations need workers who know how to write these genres properly. The medical field is especially in need of people to write medical textbooks, product packaging, marketing journals, healthcare websites, and more. Because English majors often believe they aren’t qualified enough for a position in a scientific field, many may never register as these as potential job options or can often overlook the field completely. If you are a detail oriented writer, these jobs could be a great fit.
  1. Grant Writing—Grants are also a form of technical writing, but they involve more creativity and rhetoric than most technical writing. Making people want to give thousands of dollars isn’t an easy task. Non-profits, universities, and businesses constantly apply for grants, meaning there is constantly a need for a grant writer and English majors are a perfect fit for the job.
  1. Public Relations (PR)—As with all writing, PR writing requires effective communication. PR is not just for marketing and business majors; it involves heavy rhetorical skills, as you must convey your product or company in an appealing way. You have to know your brand and market, but you also have to be aware of the writing style and the persuasive language. In some cases, you may need to present a person as appealing to an audience. For these instances, politicians and high status business officials often hire people to write their speeches and letters. This writing can be particularly tricky if you don’t necessarily agree with the views of the person. You have to put your personal opinions aside, because good PR writing means convincing your audience.

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  1. Teaching—If you’re more interested the academics of English, you should consider education and teaching students about classical works, and other various genres. Teaching is not limited to just literature, you can also teach topics concerning composition like rhetorical language uses, grammar, publishing, and journalism. You even have the option of teaching English to children in another country. The great thing about the education system is that you can work with any age. Whether you want to teach young children or college students, you have the option to educate beginner’s mind or an advanced mind, which can be a gratifying experience.

As an English major, writing and literature courses will help you develop various skills. Some may be of more interest to you than others, and in that case, see which is most suited for your chosen profession. Let that knowledge grow, and eventually you will become a master at your craft.

“What Pet Should I Get” by Dr. Seuss Becomes a Bestseller

IMG_1876This past summer has been full of great new book releases, but only a couple of iconic book releases made a huge impact in the literary world, such as Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which stayed on the bestseller list for several weeks. Lee’s sequel soared as a bestseller due to the nostalgic excitement it evoked but now faces some steep competition with a children’s book. Having hit the shelves on July 28, 2015, two weeks after Go Set a Watchmen, the never-before-published picture book What Pet Should I Get by legendary icon Dr. Seuss has quickly become a major seller in the past month.

The book was written several years prior to Seuss’s death in 1991. While his wife and secretary were cleaning out his office, they discovered the partly unfinished manuscript in his desk. Initially, they decided to do nothing with them; however the pages resurfaced in 2013 and were prepared for publishing through Random House.

What Pet Should I Get tells of two children who can’t quite decide what pet to pick out in the store, as all of them are too precious to leave behind. It ends with a cliffhanger and rather abruptly, as the children walk off with an unknown animal. The book appears to be a “finished work,” but if you flip to the back of the picture book, the publishers explain that much of the book is missing.

The work is considerably shorter than most of his books, and it seems like he wanted to add more to the pages. Several sections of the book were found with edits, and it was unclear for some which were the most updated. Even the illustrations were unfinished. Most of the color scheme emulates the color scheme of his older book One Fish Two Fish Redfish Blue Fish, which contains very similar characters designs.

Despite this, I can see why publishers wanted to share it with the public. What Pet Should I Get gives fans a great insight into the mind and the writing process of Dr. Seuss. The author hasn’t produced a book in over 20 years since his passing, yet he remains one of the most influential authors in history. If someone were to find one of his works, finished or otherwise, people would surely want to read it, as with What Pet Should I Get. To further excite things, his wife and secretary also found one more manuscript that will be released in the near future. For now, pick up a copy of What Pet Should I Get, and bask in your childhood nostalgia.