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On The Use Of Press Releases In Book Reviews
In a message dated 02-05-17 05:33:59 EDT, Shel Horowitz writes regarding how promotional
copy he creates is often utilized by reviewers when framing their review commentaries:
> This is not all that unusual. In fact, the one time I saw a New York Times story covering a book
I'd written about, I was amused to see that this bylined article by a well-known columnist (no, I
won't mention names!) took several entire paragraphs straight out of my release. And Jim Cox has
publicly stated that many MWBR reviews draw heavily from the accompanying press release.
This is why your press release accompanying your review copies should always contain a one
paragraph descriptive summary of your book written so that you would be pleased to find
yourself reading it in the pages of Publishers Weekly or the New York Times Review of
> That's OK! That means that *I* did my job right and the journalist thought it was good
enough. I am long past the need to see my own byline attached to my words, especially in this sort
of situation when my work doesn't carry a byline in the first place. (Though I wouldn't be in a rush
to hire that reporter for anything where plagiarism would be an issue!)
This is in fact a key and critical element in the job description of the Publicist. To write
promotional copy that is so well constructed and presented as to be ideal for editors or reviewers
or columnists looking for "filler" to complete their magazine or newspaper or newsletter based
assignments when under deadline pressures.
Reviewers come in three basic categories: Good, Bad, and Mediocre.
The bad ones will disregard everything you send (including the book!) when expressing what
passes for the self-serving opinions or twisted critiques.
The mediocre ones will repeat what you send them without any particular twist, spin, or
embellishment of their own -- including an opinion as to whether the book is good, flawed, or to
be recommended to anyone in particular. But at least through the use of your promotional copy
they will present their readers with an accurate description of your book!
The good ones will range from folks who are writing what amounts to literary essays that use
your book as their intellectual launching pad, down to the folks who want to voice a
recommendation and are taking the time-saving short-cut of incorporating your book summary to
describe what they are about to recommend -- and to whom.
> So what's the lesson here?
> When sending out book press releases, always send your best work. Not only does it increase
the chances of coverage, but it may be used essentially as is. Lesson 2: never send anything you'd
be ashamed of it landed in print.
Amen. Amen, and again I say AMEN!
This is a lesson committed to memory and policy by the promotion/publicity departments for all
the major New York houses, all the successful and thriving independent publishers, and most of
the self-published/POD published authors who have spent any time on the Midwest Book Review
reading through the "Advice for Publishers" section, or lurked for any length of time listening in
on publisher discussion forums like this one.
Shel is a true professional. Listen carefully to what he says. Then think carefully about how you
can best apply his seasoned advise and experienced counsel to your own promotional materials
and publicity efforts.
Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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