Evelyn Tipacti

    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Other
    • Title:Community Editor
    • Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
    • Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media

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    Queries & LOIs That Sell

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015, 2:51 PM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    On Tuesday, Sept. 1, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Queries & LOIs That Sell," with our guest Linda Formichelli. 

    Formichelli has written for over 150 magazines since 1997, from Pizza Today and The Federal Credit Union to Redbook and Health. Linda runs the Renegade Writer blog, where you can sign up for free writer goodies, and co-owns UsefulWritingCourses.com.

    She explained the differences between queries and letters of introduction, when to use them, how to write them and much more.

    Please follow @ProfNet and @ProfNetMedia on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.

    Linda, please tell us about yourself and your career as a writer.

    Since 1997 have written for 150+ mags including Redbook, USA Weekend, Health, Writer's Digest and Family Circle.  Also copywriting clients like Sprint, OnStar, Pizzeria Uno and TripAdvisor and blogs like Copyblogger, Write to Done and Tiny Buddha. And am author of many books like The Renegade Writer and Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love. Finally, run the Renegade Writer blog at www.therenegadewriter.com and co-own www.usefulwritingcourses.com.

    You’re focusing more on teaching these days instead of writing for clients – why did you decide to switch?

    I bounce back and forth to keep burnout at bay. After 18 years mag writing I was ready for a change!

    Writers need to diversify not only to avoid burnout, but to smooth out the ups and downs of freelance income. And I LOVE freelance life and am passionate about helping others get it. More stable career, you control your income, WAY more fun.

    What are the differences between letters of introduction (LOIs) and query letters?

    LOIs introduce yourself to an editor or prospect and are best for trade mags and copywriting clients.

    Query letters are expected by consumer (newsstand pubs) and pitch ONE idea with research, quotes and examples. You can also use shortened version of a query letter to pitch guest posts to blogs. Bloggers are impressed with good query! Big-name bloggers like guest post queries because they usually get crappy pitches and queries are so much more pro.

    New writers often confuse queries and letters of introduction (LOI) – why is that?

    LOIs are easier so writers tend to want to use them but they're not too effective for big mags who are getting lots of pitches.

    When should you use a query?

    Queries work for all mags, but you NEED them for big consumer/newsstand pubs. They don't respond well to LOIs.

    When should you use a letter of introduction?

    LOIs work for trade mags, custom publications (like those you get from your bank or a local store) and businesses.

    What are the basics to include in a query?

    Query basics 1. Article idea that is TIMELY, NARROW and UNIQUE, and a headline that grabs the editor's attention.

    Query basics 2. Intro like you would see in the magazine: Anecdote, surprising stat, etc.

    Query basics 3. "Nut graf" - paragraph that sums up what is the article you're suggesting.

    Query basics 3.2. A typical nut graf could end, "In my article X I'll tell readers Y. For example:"

    Query basics 4. Examples of what you're offering. Like in a tip article, provide 3 of the tips with subheds and expert quotes.

    Query basics 5. A creds paragraph about what makes YOU the perfect writer for this. Previous pubs, topic experience.

    Query basics 6. ASK for the sale: "May I write this for you?" "What do you think of this idea for mag X?" etc. (Be creative!)

    Is pitching an assignment to a pub at all similar to what a proper PR pitch to a journalist should look like?

    And kinda...would have quotes, yes, but more examples. Constructed more like article.

    But what if a writer has no clips (writing samples)?

    Start with topic where you have personal experience, education or exclusive access to a source and write the HELL out of the query.

    Can you send the same query to multiple publications?

    Yes, with caveats. Have whole post on that here: www.therenegadewriter.com/2012/03/12/the...

    What if you end up selling the same idea to two magazines then?

    So rare! But first, do happy dance. Then, offer second pub different idea if competing, or different angle if non-competing pub.

    What are the basics to include in a letter of introduction?

    Info about you, what the prospect is missing (up-to-date blog posts, articles on X) and how you can provide that, IDEAS.

    IDEAS are important - prospects get lots of "Here I am, hire me!" LOIs with no value or benefit to the prospect.

    So for example, include 3 quick blog post/article ideas, or suggestions for how you'll improve their About Us page.

    Then ASK for what you want: "May I send you some clips?" is example of a non-threatening way to get prospect to say YES.

    But BE CREATIVE! Now EVERYONE is saying "May I send you some clips?" and it gets old. You're a writer! Say it fun!

    What are some of your favorite writer forums?

    Freelance Writers Den: freelancewritersden.com/dap/a/?a=1003&nb.... Also Freelance Success was good when I used it.

    What are the biggest mistakes people make when writing queries and LOIs?

    For LOIs, quick, lazy emails with no value or benefit. They say, "I'm great, hire me!" Well, EVERY pro writer is great. Trick is to think, how can u make the prospect's life easier and earn them more money? Why do they need YOU and not someone else?

    Another LOI snafu is following template. You’re a writer-be creative! Use your personal style! Customize your LOI for the prospect.

    With queries, BIG mistake is writing in professional, stilted style. Mag style is typically conversational and fun.

    And biggest mistake is thinking LOIs/queries are too time consuming if you do them right. If you DON'T give your best effort in queries/LOIs, you won't get gigs. That's the REAL waste of time.

    How long should a query be?

    As long as it needs to be! Too many books/mags tell you a query needs to be no longer than one page. I call B.S.! A 3-page query got me into Woman's Day, Family Circle & Redbook..because they like DETAILS. But sometimes, especially if you know the editor, you can write a one-paragraph pitch.

    Should you mention how long the article you’re pitching is in the query?

    I say number one, editors know their mag better than you and two, what if you pitch a 200-word short and they see it as a feature, or vice versa? Let the editor decide how long they'd like it to be - don't give her a reason to say no!

    How can you find the best editor to send your pitch to?

    First, know that EIC or editorial director usually is not the person to pitch. Deputy, managing, associate editors are better. Also features editors or editors of the department you want to pitch: Health ed, Technology ed, Travel ed, etc. Check masthead in print mag, or Contact Us page on website. Try LinkedIn, Twitter. CALL the mag if all else fails. If you're afraid, call after hours to see if editor you want to pitch is still there. Even leave message! And of course, try Writer's Market, though it goes out of date quickly and you'll need to double check.

    Will an editor give a writer a second or third chance if they don’t send good queries or LOIs the first few tries?

    Yes! I sent some doozies to Family Circle early in career but ended up writing for them 12x and became their highest-paid writer. But take a hint. If you keep getting no response or canned rejections, move on.

    Please tell us about the mentoring work you do.

    Just brought back hourly phone mentoring for writers! I help with marketing plans, article ideas, writing problems, time managment and more: 

    Can you tell us about “Pitch Clinic”?

    Pitch Clinic is a class I co-teach that shows writers how to write queries/LOIs that get gigs. buff.ly/1VhSKLJ

    We have 3 big-name mag editors on board to co-teach and critique homework: Forbes, Redbook and Writer's Digest - buff.ly/1VhSKLJ

    AND have crazy money-back offer: You do all work and complete pitch challenge and get FULL REFUND buff.ly/1VhSKLJ

    Last class, 2/3 of challenge participants got gigs DURING the challenge. Two were offered fulltime jobs! buff.ly/1VhSKLJ

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Upcoming Twitter Q&A: Queries and LOIs That Sell

    Thursday, August 27, 2015, 8:58 AM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Our next #ConnectChat, "Queries and Letters of Introduction That Sell,” will feature Linda Formichelli (@LFormichelli).

    Linda will answer all your freelance writing pitch questions and break down the differences between a query and an LOI -- when each one should be used, and how to use these powerful forms of marketing to help you land assignments with magazines, blogs, and businesses.

    She’ll also provide information on how to participate in “Pitch Clinic,” a five-week class that goes further in-depth on this topic, and much more.

    The chat will take place Tuesday, Sept. 1, from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT.

    To submit questions for Linda in advance, please email profnetconnect@prnewswire.com or tweet your question to @ProfNet or @ProfNetMedia. We'll try to get to as many questions as we can.

    Of course, you can also ask your question live during the chat. To help you keep track of the conversation, we’ll use the #connectchat hashtag. Please use that hashtag if you are tweeting a question or participating in the chat.

    If you can't make it to the chat, don't worry -- a transcript will be provided on ProfNet Connect the next day.

    About Linda Formichelli

    Linda Formichelli has written for over 150 magazines since 1997, from Pizza Today and The Federal Credit Union to Redbook and Health. Linda runs the Renegade Writer blog, where you can sign up for free writer goodies, and co-owns UsefulWritingCourses.com.

    UWC's popular Freelance Writer's Pitch Clinic class starts on Sept. 29. Writers will learn the ins and outs of writing queries and letters of introduction from two industry pros and three real-life editors, including the executive editor of Redbook and a former Writer's Digest/current Print Magazine editor.

    Linda lives in North Carolina with her husband, 6-year-old ballet dancing son (which makes her so proud!), two (yes, two) exchange students, and three rescue cats. She's into sci-fi, spas, travel, foreign languages, cat rescue, and fitness.

    Mike Fitzgerald, Belleville News-Democrat

    Friday, August 21, 2015, 1:43 PM [Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Mike Fitzgerald, a newspaper reporter for the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat who has been there for the last two decades.

    During his career, Fitzgerald has covered a wide range of beats, from courts and cops, to local government and schools. Right now he covers the military beat for his newspaper.

    Fitzgerald received a master's degree in journalism in 1991 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Married with three sons, Fitzgerald remains hopeful about the future of newspapers and their ability to keep serving their audiences while adapting to new technologies. 

    We hope you find Mike's SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative.

    Where was your first job as a professional journalist?

    St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press Gazette.

    Was journalism what you always wanted to do or did you have other plans?

    I am like a lot of journalists, I suppose.  I more or less fell into the job (and then fell in love with it) after other plans did not pan out.

    What type of stories do you like to cover the most?

    Complicated stories that can be told as stories with definite beginnings, middles and ends. I especially enjoy writing stories that hinge on some type of suspense --- they keep me writing and, I hope, my readers reading.

    Are your stories usually assigned or do you also get to make suggestions?

    I usually come up with story ideas from my work as a beat reporter.

    Is there something you like best about what you do?

    Leaving the office and meeting new and interesting people and then writing something that could a difference in their lives.

    What advice to do you have for those in PR or anyone else who may want to pitch you a story idea?

    Reporters love a good story. A story about the little guy or gal beating the odds or devising an idea that will make this a better world. If you can frame your pitch in those terms, then you are more than half-way there to winning the pitchee's heart.

    What should they always do?

    Life is about relationships. It really and truly is. So build a rapport, a relationship with the news media people you deal with. Make those reporters feel like you care about them as people, and pitchees second.  News reporters know that PR people have a job to do, an agenda to push, but a bonafide relationship -- built on trust and constructed over time -- will ensure the pitchee will give you a fair listen.

    Never do?

    Never, ever, ever, ever, insult our intelligence. Be upfront and straight with us. Don't oversell a pitch or send it to us on an airship filled with hyperbole and bombast.

    How can someone in PR get to know you and develop a good working relationship with you?

    Three words: lunch and coffee.

    Do you have advice for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    Respond as fast as possible to the reporter's query.

    What type of experts do you like to work with?

    Scientists and other types of professional researchers.

    What’s most different now from when you began your career?

    Whoa....Do you have a couple hours? Seriously, it's all about the clicks nowadays. Every day we are made aware of how many people have clicked on our stories and related videos and shared them with others. This has created pressures and criteria for assessing our job performances that few of us imagined even a few years ago, never mind in 1991, when I started in this business. And, of course, there is the financial situation: 25 years ago the local daily newspaper, especially if it had a monopoly position, owned a license to print money.  Almost every newspaper was making a ton of money, with profit margins in many cases big enough to put drug dealers to shame.  Now that has all changed, needless to say, which has made us all acutely aware of how expendable every one of us is. A very humbling experience.

    Despite all the turmoil and uncertainty in the newspaper industry, all the constraints and hand-wringing, I am continually amazed at the number of talented, dedicated people who remain in it and the sheer excellence of the work they produce every single day. That is quite true of the newspaper where I work, as well as countless others.

    How do you use social media at work?

    I am constantly on Facebook to prospect for story ideas and to contact sources. I also use FB, Google Plus, Reddit and Twitter to disseminate my work and the work of colleagues.

    Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments you’ve had as a journalist?

    That's the great thing about working as a journalist. You won't make much money, but you will walk away with a ton of stories to tell or relive for the rest of your life.  One of my most memorable moments, at least on a personal level, had to do with a series of stories I wrote that played a crucial role in winning the freedom for a woman with four kids who was in jail on bogus drug charges and who was on the verge of being deported. Seeing the smile on her face, the smiles on the faces of her father and mother, the smiles on the faces of her kids, when she exited the courthouse, a free woman, after nearly a year in a squalid rural jail in Missouri and knowing that I had a key role to play in all this ---- yeah, that was sweet. I've endured a lot of ups and downs in this business, especially over the last five years, but helping free that woman from captivity makes me feel it all somehow was worth it.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Google News Lab

    Thursday, August 20, 2015, 1:47 PM [Media 411]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    “Google it.”

    How many times have you heard the phrase? How many times have you said it? You rarely hear “search the Internet” anymore, since Google has pretty much become synonymous with the Internet, or at least it seems that way.

    Google aims to make the user experience as positive as possible, with products for the Web, mobile, business, home and office. Now they’ve come up with a way to enhance the journalist experience.

    Realizing that ways of creating and sharing news changes constantly, Google released News Lab, an online network that aims to connect journalists with programs, data and other resources to aid in their reporting. The site will feature a number of tools for newsrooms, including tutorials and best practices on how to use Google products in reporting, as well as provide access to the recently updated Google Trends service, and more.

    How will Google News Lab impact journalists and media outlets? We sat down with Daniel Sieberg, head of media outreach with Google News Lab, to find out.

    What is News Lab all about?

    The News Lab at Google is our effort to empower innovation at the intersection of technology and media. Our mission: to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to build the future of media with Google. We do this through Google Tools, Data, and Programs. The News Lab engages entrepreneurs and journalists with the latest developing Google technologies to test out new applications and new ways to tell stories. And we’re constantly looking for new and innovative ideas in media, and experimenting with technologies inside and outside of Google ourselves.

    How and when was the concept of News Lab born?

    About a year ago, a number of us internally, led by Steve Grove, the director of the News Lab, began brainstorming on how we might unify various groups within the company that lean towards empowering journalists. I previously led a group called Google for Media, and others had interactions with newsrooms for other reasons -- many of those people had been at Google for several years and others were relatively new. But we came together under a clear mandate, and thus the News Lab was born. We only had a more public launch in late June, but we’ve been working behind the scenes for some time. 

    What was your role specifically? You have a television journalism background, which must have helped in the production.

    My background is actually a combination of print (Vancouver Sun), online (CNN.com, ABCNews.com), TV (CBS News, CNN, BBC) and radio (various). Initially, I was mainly focused on our media outreach efforts to train journalists on digital tools, but that’s expanded to include some of our work on experimental storytelling (VR, drones, etc.), which is a thread that runs through everything we do, and elections partnerships, which is in collaboration with other teams at Google. Others on the News Lab bring their own expertise and background to a group that’s about 10 of us right now, with hiring taking place in Europe and NYC.

    What are your goals for News Lab?

    Google started the News Lab because we believe that a strong and robust media ecosystem is better for people, governments, companies, societies, and the world. With the extraordinary change that technology has brought to the news and information landscape, we think the future of news depends on journalists and technologists working together to create a more informed world. At Google, we think we can play a more active and collaborative role in the development of that future -- that’s why we started the News Lab. 

    Google is very supportive of quality journalism. How does the creation of News Lab tie in with Google’s mission?

    Google’s mission from the very beginning has been to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. That mission not only drove the creation of Google’s Search product, but it continues to drive efforts as varied as Maps to Android to YouTube to Fiber to Project Loon to Self-driving cars.

    Yet, when you really examine that mission, it’s hard to think of a more important source of information in the world today than quality news content. At its best, journalism communicates truth to power, keeps societies free and open, and leads to more informed decision-making by people and leaders. We know that our mission to make information accessible and useful to people resonates with those in the news industry, because they’ve been doing it for far longer than we have! Just in different ways.

    In the past decade, better technology and an open Internet have led to a revolution in how news content is created, distributed, and consumed. Along the way, Google has created many technologies and platforms that have changed the media industry -- sometimes intentionally, sometimes not -- which has made us a player in the media landscape, even though we’re a technology company.

    We realized we could be a much more effective contributor to the media industry if we created a central access point for journalists and entrepreneurs to connect with our tools, our data, and our people in order to get the most out of what Google has to offer. And we wanted to have a much more collaborative, forward-leaning effort to help build the future of the industry alongside the most innovative people and organizations in media today.

    Can you give us a breakdown of the various offerings News Lab has for journalists and explain how each one can help the media?


    • TOOLS: The News Lab is designed to be one easy entry point for all newsrooms to discover Google’s tools that are relevant for journalists. We have a global outreach effort designed to teach journalists how to use Google to research, report, distribute and optimize their content, and we’ve developed product tutorials specifically for journalists at g.co/newslab. To date, we’ve trained 13,000 journalists in 34 countries.
    (If you’re a reporter looking for expert sources, check out ProfNet, a tool that helps connect you with subject-matter experts around the globe via a simple query.)
    • DATA: We’re building a new data journalism effort within the News Lab, focused on leveraging Google data to help journalists tell stories. We believe that aggregated, anonymized Google data can shed light on the most pressing and important questions of our time, and we’re advancing our Google Trends product to help journalists tell transformative stories through our data. We’re opening up new data sets all the time at Google.com/Trends, and on our Git Hub Page -- and are always looking for new partners to work with.
    • PROGRAMS: We create programs with innovative partners to support an ecosystem of new voices in media. In particular, we focus on media startups, user-generated news content, and online content creators. We believe the media companies of tomorrow will come from the startups and innovators of today -- and we want to help them succeed.

    You’ve partnered with The Center for Investigative Reporting, Storyful and Matter VC. How will you work together, and do you plan on developing other partnerships?

    We’re also working with Hacks/Hackers on a series of global events to further stimulate and grow innovation in various markets and we’ve got a partnership with the European Journalism Centre that involves eight News Impact summits across Europe to provide training and thought leadership.

    We also have a significant focus on highlighting/verifying UGC or eyewitness media content through efforts like First Draft and the YouTube Newswire. And we’re expanding existing programs like the Google Journalism Fellowships and the Computational Journalism Awards to more places and more people. Additional info here.

    How can journalists start using News Lab today? 

    I’d suggest start with the g.co/newslab site and follow us on Twitter at @googlenewslab and @googletrends.

    We’re also always looking for creative ways to experiment with various tools whether through VR, drones or anything else so get in touch!

    About Daniel Sieberg

    Daniel Sieberg is the head of media outreach with Google News Lab, which seeks to empower storytelling at the intersection of media and technology.

    Prior to joining Google in 2011, Sieberg was the technology correspondent at ABC News, CBS News and CNN, as well as a contributor to BBC News, MSNBC and PBS.

    His first book, “The Digital Diet,” is about embracing a healthy approach to technology in our connected world. Sieberg has a master's degree in journalism with a focus in technology from the University of British Columbia and lives in NYC with his wife and two daughters.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Media 411: Journalism Quotes

    Thursday, August 6, 2015, 3:29 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    When you work in the media, you need a sense of humor.

    Either you're the butt of a joke or you're taken seriously. It's a love/hate relationship between journalists and well, almost everybody else and journalists know this. 

    However, if you're a journalist, you're almost certain there's nothing else you'd rather do for a living. It's a calling.

    Here are some of the best journalism quotes I've seen lately, amusing or thought provoking to encourage you or just make you laugh:

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Media 411: Lack of Newsroom Diversity

    Thursday, July 23, 2015, 3:58 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Living and working in a big city, I’m very accustomed to a diverse population and seeing people from all races and ethnicities report the news on television and every other medium. These same people are my friends and colleagues.

    However, the diversity seen in the big cities is non-existent in the rest of the country because minority journalists are not holding too many newsroom jobs. This is a problem and for several reasons. One is that the news minorities want to know about is not being covered. If there are no minority journalists, who’s going to cover minority issues? Minorities are now the majority (or will soon be) and issues that affect these communities need to be discussed somewhere. Ignoring them will no longer be acceptable. Not that it has been acceptable, but even more so in this day and age. 

    Another is that minority groups have a lot of spending power, but if no one is covering what they need or want to know about, they won’t be investing their money via purchasing the news or advertising since their audience isn’t being reached.

    Journalism students come in all colors but mainstream outlets are not hiring them. The Columbia Journalism Review has an excellent article by Alex T. Williams titled “Why aren’t there more minority journalists?” which explores the reasons why there’s still a lack of diversity in newsrooms and provides a breakdown of possible explanations.

    I’m not even going to discuss outlets that are specific to a minority group like a Spanish-language television station (I’m Hispanic) or a magazine or newspaper for specific minority communities. They are obviously catering to those specific groups. The problem is within mainstream media. The news that affects minorities affects the entire community. They need journalists that reflect the population.

    What do you think?

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Steps to Self-Publishing Your Book

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015, 3:24 PM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    On Tuesday, July 21, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Steps to Self-Publishing Your Book," with Adam Boretz, the editor of PW Select, Publishers Weekly's monthly self-publishing supplement, and BookLifePW's website dedicated to indie authors.

    Adam provided information on where to find editors and illustrators, gave advice on writing as a first-time self-publisher, finances involved in the process and much more.

    Please follow @ProfNet and @ProfNetMedia on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.

    Adam, can you please tell us about your role at Publishers Weekly?

    I'm the editor of BookLife, PW's website dedicated to indie authors, and I edit Publishers Weekly Select, the magazine’s monthly self-publishing supplement.

    What does Publishers Weekly do for self-publishing?

    BookLife and Publishers Weekly provide great editorial content for indie authors...we cover everything from editing to marketing and indie authors can create pages for their books on BookLife, find editorial help in our services directory and submit books for FREE review consideration by Publishers Weekly.

    Is a lot of money needed to self-publish your book?

    It really depends on the author, the book, and her goals for the book. It can range from very inexpensive to super pricey. Authors need to do research and find what is right for their budgets. But it's doable and less pricey options are out there.

    How challenging is it to self-publish your book?

    Again that varies and depends on how much the author does herself and how much she works with service providers. If you're going to handle every aspect from publishing to marketing to distribution yourself, it will be very challenging. So, we advise people to work with professionals on certain aspects of the process if they can afford it.

    Can anyone self-publish, or are there certain requirements one must meet beforehand?

    Anyone can self-publish! That's the beauty of it.

    Why should a writer consider self-publishing?

    There are many reasons: it's faster than traditional publishing, you have more control over the final product. And, of course, you don't have to find an agent and submit your book to publishing houses. You can eliminate the gatekeepers and get your work out there!

    What advice do you have for someone who is a new writer and has never self-published before?

    Research. Research. Research. As an indie author, you are responsible for everything, so it's important to learn as much as you can about publishing, marketing, book distribution, cover art, etc. -- how they work and what you need to do to succeed. You don't want to be surprised halfway through the process by additional expenses/work.

    What writing tips can you provide for authors who've never self-published?

    Revise! Make sure your book is as good as you can make it before you begin the self-publishing process and work with an editor, a copy editor, a proofreader. You want your book to be as professional as any traditionally published title.

    When you’re finally done with your manuscript, how do you find an editor? 

    You can check out BookLife's services directory and match yourself up with an editor or search other online organizations that provide similar services. When you begin this process, definitely ask a lot of questions and make sure you are working with someone who understands your project and what you want to accomplish. Having a trusting, good relationship with your editor is very important.

    If you're an editor who is also writing a book, should you edit your own or have someone else do it?

    You're going to want to have another editor look at. That kind of outside, objective feedback is really key. They will catch things you missed and have new ideas you hadn't considered.

    Is more than one necessary, perhaps to catch something the first one didn’t?

    Obviously your budget plays a factor. Ideally, you'd want a "development editor" to help with the book's plot/structure/etc. as well as a copyeditor and a proofreader. This can get spendy, so authors need to assess their budget and plan accordingly.

    What if you can’t afford one editor, much less two or three?

    Get creative: have friends serve as beta readers; join a writing workshop, tap friends with ed. experience; barter services.

    Then comes the art for the book? Where can someone go to find an artist to help with the cover or any other artwork that’s necessary?

    There are similar services directory for art and design services out there. BookLife's ‘Services’ directory can connect you with artists and designers.

    Are there any services that do the art/illustration for free?

    I'm not aware of any, but probably. But remember: you get what you pay for. Check out this link ow.ly/PUvsW 

    Can you break down the differences between publishing for print and e-books? How do you go about doing either one?

    They are different but interconnect beasts. For print, you need 2 research print-on-demand providers & physical distribution and get your book designed for the printed page. For e-books, you need to convert your book to digital and figure out which online retailers you want to carry it (all of them!). There are tons of decisions 2 be made about both so, do a lot of research, ask questions, and be methodical in your approach to both.

    How can someone start marketing their book?

    Social media is a great place to begin and has really leveled the playing field in a lot of ways for indie authors. Get on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Connect with readers, engage in conversations about books, and get the word out. The options are limitless: blog tours, giveaways, events. Check this link for some good places to start ow.ly/PUwVx 

    How do you get your book in stores?

    That is still a big challenge for indie authors. You'll want to work with a self-pub provider that can help with distribution. BUT, just because your book can be distributed to stores doesn't mean it will be. I'd start by visiting local bookshops. Build relationships with them, see if they will host an event or work with you in some way. And the more marketing work you have done and reviews you have received will show them that your book should be taken seriously.

    Should your book be copyrighted?

    Yes! And it's not difficult. Here's a link with some tips & other info. There's no reason not to do it. ow.ly/PUyru 

    Where can you go to post your book and get those reviews?

    For reviews, you can to with customer reviews, free reviews or paid review services. BookLife and PW review indie authors for free -- and here's some more info on other outlets... ow.ly/PUyUD 

    For paid review services check out this link... ow.ly/PUz0q

    For customer reviews, check out this link: ow.ly/PUz4q

    About how long does the whole publishing process take?

    Good question! It varies. But overall it is much faster than going through a traditional publisher. A lot of it depends on the book itself and how fast/hard you are willing to work.

    Editor's Note: BookLife has partnered with PR Newswire to give news about your book the reach and visibility it needs to generate buzz!

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Journalist Spotlight: Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

    Monday, July 20, 2015, 3:15 PM [Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Laurie Mason Schroeder, a courts and crime reporter at The Morning Call in Allentown, PA.

    Schroeder joined The Morning Call in June 2014 after covering courts for Calkins Media in Bucks County, PA for 16 years. Her stories have won numerous writing awards, including three Pennsylvania Bar Association William A. Schnader Print Media Awards.

    We hope you find Melissa's SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative.

    Can you tell us about your first job as a professional journalist?

    I started out as a stringer (freelancer) in 1996 at my hometown newspaper, the Bucks County (Pa.) Courier Times. After covering dozens of school board and municipal meetings, I landed a staff position as a police reporter. A year later, I moved into the court beat and stayed there for 16 years. I now cover courts for the Morning Call in Allentown, PA.

    Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist or did you originally have other plans?

    I’m an accidental journalist. After having my own catering business for years, I decided to switch professions at age 30 so I could spend more time with my son. I started working toward a teaching degree, but after one student teaching gig I realized I wasn’t great with kids. I took a journalism class as an elective, and was immediately smitten with news reporting.

    What type of stories do you like to cover the most?

    I’m in a courtroom almost every day, and I enjoy bringing the law to life for my readers. The best compliment I ever got from a reader was “when I read your trial story I felt like I was there.” In Pennsylvania, where cameras and recording devices aren’t allowed in the courtroom, I’m the eyes and ears of the community.

    Do you make suggestions regarding the stories you cover or are they usually assigned to you?

    It’s about 50/50. Sometimes I’ll see a trend developing and pitch a story. Other times my editors will have an issue in mind and assign me a story. I prefer to come up with my own ideas, but sometimes other people in the newsroom have a great idea that I hadn’t thought of that turns into a front page story.

    Is there something in particular you like most about what you do?

    Journalism is the most interesting job in the world. Every day is something new. I’ve learned so many things while covering court, and a good trial is like a Shakespearean play.

    What advice to do you have for those in PR or anyone else who may want to pitch you a story idea?

    Please know what I cover. A few clicks on the paper’s website or even a Google search will show you that I cover courts. Don’t send me a pitch about a diet trend.

    What should they always do and never do?

    Always be concise. Reporters are busy, and if your emailed pitch is more than a few paragraphs we’re either going to delete it or save it for later (and probably forget about it.) Never start your pitch with a “shocking” or celebrity-themed story (unless you’re targeting an entertainment writer.)

    Also, I don’t write book reviews.

    How can someone in PR get to know you and develop that important connection to build trust?

    Follow me on Twitter. I’m @LehighCourts. You’ll get a flavor for what kind of stories I write, and you can comment or send me a message when you have an idea for a story that fits my beat. Just don’t ask me to review your book.

    Do you have advice for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    Like I said, reporters are busy people, especially these days when we’re expected to write at least two versions of every story—one for the web and one for print—as well as shoot photos and video and keep our social media followers up to date. In my queries, I almost always request that the expert answer a few questions via email, with the option of following up with a phone call if needed. This saves time, especially when I’m simultaneously covering a murder trial while putting together a Sunday feature. Despite this request, I’ll sometimes just get a reply from a PR person pointing me to a client. PR people, please try to get your client to answer at least one question via email. It really increases the chance that I’ll use them for the story.

    What type of experts do you like to work with?

    Smart people who talk like regular folks. My readers will tune out if I quote professors who speak as if they’re lecturing a class, or industry leaders who pepper their sentences with corporate-speak. I sometimes have to ask experts to explain something as if they’re talking to a child. I’m not saying my readers are dumb, but sometimes I have less than a day to get up speed on a subject so I need experts who don’t mind putting things in simple terms.

    What has changed from when you began your career?

    The digital revolution. When I started, the Internet was brand new. I remember a staff meeting where we heard about this thing called Google. Deadlines were 10 or 11 p.m. Now, my stories need to be online almost immediately—or at least before the competition—so there’s very little downtime. I used to cover a trial, eat dinner, drive back to the newsroom and write. Now I’m hunched over my laptop in the courthouse hallway minutes after the trial ends.

    How do use social media at work?

    I use it to get my stories out and to find sources. Twitter is amazing for this. Type in a few words and, voila! You find people from all over the world who’ve posted about the subject. That’s a good reason for experts who want to be quoted to keep their Twitter accounts up to date. There are a lot of other social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, that reporters check, but Twitter seems to be a favorite among the journalists I know.

    Can you tell us about your favorite or most challenging assignment?

    While most courtrooms are open to the public, cases involving abused and neglected children who are being taken away from their parents are closed. I wanted to write about the subject, so I started asking every judge who would listen about my story idea. Seven years and four judges later, I was finally able to get inside these closed courtrooms to observe. The result was a weeklong series on Bucks County’s Children and Youth social service agency that won several first place writing awards in Pennsylvania. It was emotionally-draining stuff. But readers were fascinated with the behind-the-scenes stories, and social workers I spoke to after the story ran thanked me for showing how difficult their job is. 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Upcoming #ConnectChat: Steps to Self-Publishing Your Book

    Thursday, July 16, 2015, 12:29 PM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Our next #ConnectChat, “Steps to Self-Publishing Your Book" will feature Adam Boretz, @booklife, the editor of PW Select, Publishers Weekly's monthly self-publishing supplement, and BookLife, PW's website dedicated to indie authors.

    For six years, Adam coordinated the quarter-final round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest for Publishers Weekly and Amazon.

    Adam will answer all your questions and discuss what steps to take when you’re planning on self-publishing a book -- from writing tips, advice on art and design, steps to publishing your book and finally, marketing it to the masses. 

    The chat will take place Tuesday, July. 21 from 3-4 p.m., EDT.

    To submit questions for Adam in advance, please email profnetconnect@prnewswire.com or tweet your question to @ProfNet or @ProfNetMedia.

    We'll try to get to as many questions as we can. Of course, you can also ask your question live during the chat. To help you keep track of the conversation, we’ll use the #connectchat hashtag. Please use that hashtag if you are tweeting a question or participating in the chat.

    If you can't make it to the chat, don't worry -- a transcript will be provided on ProfNet Connect the next day.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Media 411: Ways Journalists Can Use Reddit

    Thursday, July 9, 2015, 3:01 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Journalists today have a gazillion ways to do research, find stories, engage with their audience and get the general information they need. Most are well-versed in social media via Twitter and Facebook but what about Reddit? Do you use it yet?

    Here are some suggestions (with links to the original articles) that can show you exactly how to use it. You can never learn enough regarding tools that may help make your life a bit easier.

    1)    Not everything there is journalism: And that’s OK. Reddit is a social news site (a play on “read it”), but its definition of “news” is much broader than what most journalists are used to. Cat pictures, memes and animated GIFs will make the front page right next to serious political or science news. Don’t make the mistake of thinking one discounts the other. There’s a lot of valuable information in the Reddit community, you just have to find the parts that are right for you.

    Source: A journalist’s quick guide to Reddit, the next thing you have to learn – Poynter

    2)    To engage users: One way Reddit can be used for engagement is in AMAs, where people invite other redditors to ask them anything. Nazanine Moshiri, roving correspondent for Al Jazeera English, did one of the outlet's first AMAs from Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though she admitted that opening yourself up to such public scrutiny was initially nerve-wracking, she said journalists should not feel anxious about not knowing all the answers to the questions they may be asked, because people were generally more interested in hearing about personal accounts and experiences. "You can prepare a little bit by thinking through what the main issues are on the subject, but I don't think people are asking you questions just for you to give them facts and figures and soundbites," she said. "I think they just want to hear what it's really like, your take [on something] and your thoughts."

    Source: 5 ways journalists can use Reddit – Journalism.co.uk

    3)    Find sources and content, but for crying out loud, ask permission first: We’ve all seen the credit: “YouTube” — the calling sign of an overworked producer or web writer who hasn’t been able (or hasn’t bothered) to get the permission to use a clip. Well Reddit won’t stand for it. Redditors will call you out. Trust me. Moderators can (and have) prevented entire news organisations from appearing on Reddit for bad behaviour, so it’s important you do things right, etiquette wise. It all boils down to one thing: Ask permission. Redditors are, generally, nice people who want to share things. That’s the whole point — and they quite literally do it for the “karma” … karma being the score Reddit gives users for sharing things that get a lot of upvotes. What Redditors don’t take kindly to is people stealing things they’ve posted — particularly when it’s so easy to ask, and because the vast majority aren’t seeking any monetary gain.

    Source: Reddit for Journalists: Your newest super-source – Medium

    4)    The Reddit Journalist: The Reddit journalist uses Reddit like a true Redditor —as an amateur. This person is just a member of the community: commenting, questioning, kneading and prodding just like everyone else. The Reddit journalist uses Reddit to find stories, but the similarities end once he or she finds an interesting story or piece of content. The Reddit Journalist will then start talking to people, asking commenters for more information and clarification. It’s almost like he’s doing journalism on Reddit. When asked for an example of the Reddit journalist in action, Lee immediately pointed to someone he knows as /bostonjourno. In one instance, the Redditor followed up with someone complaining that his credit card information was leaked after purchasing alcohol at a local liquor store. “He was quite useful in helping people putting together the pieces,” says Lee. Once /bostonjourno started asking questions, other people came forward. /bostonjourno is none other than the Boston Globe‘s Dan Adams, and he’s adamant about his amateur-approach to Reddit. He uses it for background information and for asking questions. “You’ll ask a question and think, ‘there’s no way that someone in this random internet forum will know about this.’ But, lo and behold, someone will email you right away.”

    Source: Reddit: A Guide for Journalists – Storybench

    5)    It can look a little bit confusing. It looks a little bit overwhelming: Sign up and get started and you can start following what you’re really interested in. Identify yourself when you use Reddit: say you’re a journalist. Reddit is a very intelligent community. Be honest about who you are and you’d be surprised the reaction that you get. People are nice in general. They’re polite…Also, Reddit should not be used just to promote your own content. There is generally a ‘10% rule’ – your stories should not make up more than 10% of your total submitted links.

    Source: How journalists are using Reddit to find and share storiesnews:rewired

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

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