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The Real LJ Idol - Toot Your Own Horn

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Jun. 13th, 2012 | 10:46 pm

You’ve worked hard, fellow Idol contestants, and you deserve some recognition. Please feel free to appropriate this fill-in-the-blanks press release.

1) Check out the filled-in example below, then create your own press release using the template that follows. You have blanket permission to copy as much as you want and change as much as you like. Try not to get too fancy on voice—make your quotes sparkle, but let the material around your speech be just the facts. Keep it short! More than one page is too long.

2) Contact your local newspaper, city magazine, or NPR station (a phone call will be fastest) and ask who handles literary news and book reviews. If you’re in a smaller town, that may just be the arts editor. Get the specific name and email of someone to send the press release to, and email it to them. Paste it in the body of the email - many places won't open attachments.

3) Follow up with an email or phone call about three days later. Many times your press release is lost, misplaced or forgotten. That’s part of the process; be prepared to resend and be cool about it.

4) Have in mind a short section of your strongest piece that could be excerpted to run alongside an article about you, if they request it.

5) Cross your fingers and hope for a slow news week!

Who might like to promote you? Local newspapers and magazines, writing publications you subscribe to, blogs about writing where you have a personal connection with the author, your own blog, your local public radio station, your church or community newsletter, local alternative paper.

A larger news outlet will have a reporter call or email you to do an interview and write it themselves. Small media often reprint your press release as written, so make it a good piece that represents you but sounds reasonably unbiased.


 - SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE -

For immediate release: June 13, 2012
Contact: Allison Williams
myemail@mydomain.com
555-555-5555

LOCAL WRITER FINDS SUCCESS IN INTERNATIONAL CONTEST

Anyone can enter. There is no prize. And thirty grueling weeks into The Real LJ Idol, Allison Williams is still writing alongside contestants from the UK, Australia, Sweden, Canada, and across the USA.

“All the winner gets is internet glory,” says Williams, a Kalamazoo-based trapeze artist who joined the contest “to write every single week whether I’m feeling it or not. And I have to admit, I’m pretty competitive, and the voting aspect keeps me on my A-game.”

Created and moderated by a Florida writer known as “Gary”, The Real LJ Idol is structured somewhat like a reality show. Each week, a short prompt is posted, and the competing authors write pieces inspired by it. There’s no restriction on form or content – entries have included personal essays, science fiction, horror, poems and songs. Some writers, like Williams, try to write something different each week; others become known for a specific genre or unfold a novel chapter by chapter, as long as they survive the voting rounds.

“Popularity helps,” says Williams, “and I make a point of reading and commenting on everyone’s piece every week. But it’s also helping me as a writer to look at everyone else’s work and learn from their successes as well as what I see as things that missed the mark.”

Voting is open to the public most rounds, with the lowest vote-getters “going home”. Many stick around to write for the “Home Game”, vote, and engage in the community as ‘beta-readers’ who give requested feedback on drafts so another writer can improve their work before posting it to the community.

Three hundred and thirty-seven writers signed up when the contest’s eighth season began in October; about thirty are still in the running. Some of the entrants were already professional writers (Williams has several published plays, including work in the local All Ears Radio Theatre series) but many are talented hobbyists. Writers in Europe and New Zealand carefully count time zones to make the submission deadline every week.

Past winners have landed professional gigs, such as Season Six winner Ellie DeLano, now a columnist for Women’s Day. Williams says, “What I’m loving most about The Real LJ Idol is building a body of work to send out on submission when the contest is over. The current round is five pieces on different topics, in two weeks. So even if I get voted out, that’s five more essays ready for literary magazines. I call that a win.”

Williams’ work may be read here: www.whipchick.livejournal.com, and the weekly contest postings can be read here: therealljidol.livejournal.com.



 - MAD-LIBS YOUR WAY TO PUBLICITY -

For immediate release: TODAY’S DATE
Contact: YOUR NAME
YOUR PHONE
YOUR EMAIL

LOCAL WRITER FINDS SUCCESS IN INTERNATIONAL CONTEST

Anyone can enter. There is no prize. And thirty grueling weeks into The Real LJ Idol, YOUR NAME is still writing alongside contestants from the UK, Australia, Sweden, Canada, and across the USA.

“WHAT WINNING MEANS,” says YOUR LAST NAME, a YOUR CITY YOUR OCCUPATION who joined the contest “REAL REASON YOU’RE IN IDOL. QUIRKY ADDITIONAL REASON THAT SHOWS YOUR PERSONALITY.”

Created and moderated by a Florida writer known as “Gary”, The Real LJ Idol is structured somewhat like a reality show. Each week, a prompt is posted, and the competing authors write pieces inspired by it. There’s no restriction on form or content – entries have included personal essays, science fiction, horror, poems and songs. Some writers COMMA LIKE YOUR NAME MIGHT GO HERE try to write something different each week; others COMMA LIKE YOUR NAME MIGHT GO HERE become known for a specific genre or COMMA LIKE YOUR NAME MIGHT GO HERE unfold a novel chapter by chapter, as long as they survive the voting rounds.

“SOMETHING YOU THINK ABOUT HOW TO DO WELL,” says YOUR LAST NAME, “AND HOW YOU ARE DOING THAT ACTION. WHAT YOU’RE GETTING OUT OF COMPETING.”

Voting is open to the public most rounds, with the lowest vote-getters “going home”. Many stick around to write for the “Home Game”, vote, and engage in the community as ‘beta-readers’ who give requested feedback on drafts so another writer can improve their work before posting it to the community.

Three hundred and thirty-seven writers signed up when the contest’s eighth season began in October; about thirty are still in the running. Some of the entrants were already professional writers (INSERT YOUR CREDITS HERE IF APPLICABLE) [but many are talented hobbyists]. OPTION B REPLACE BRACKETED TEXT WITH – [but like many, YOUR LAST NAME is developing her craft and INSERT A GOAL FOR YOUR WRITING CAREER]. Writers in Europe and New Zealand carefully count time zones to make the submission deadline every week.

Past winners have landed professional gigs, such as Season Six winner Ellie DeLano, now a columnist for Women’s Day. YOUR LAST NAME says, “POSITIVE RESULT WHETHER I WIN OR NOT, ENDING WITH SOMETHING UPBEAT OR FUNNY.”

YOUR LAST NAME’S work may be read here: YOURJOURNAL.livejournal.com, and the weekly contest postings can be read here: therealljidol.livejournal.com.



whipchick would love to know if you make it into your local paper!

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Comments {30}

SuperCAILEfragilistic

(no subject)

from: caile
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 02:52 am (UTC)
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Ha, I love it. If I receive one at work, it is so going in the paper!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
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Awesome!

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Vice Captain of the Universe

(no subject)

from: sweeny_todd
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 07:13 am (UTC)
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I laughed. I laughed.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :) I figured I'm trying to get some publicity, maybe other people want it, too!

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unmowngrass

(no subject)

from: unmowngrass
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 10:24 am (UTC)
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Brilliant! But isn't it the eighth season?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, and good catch! Fixed :)

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(no subject)

from: whirlgig
date: Jun. 14th, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
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I would so do this if I were still in the comp! Friggin go for it woman, you deserve it! I have been telling my friends down here all about this comp and giving them a friendly nudge if they want to read/try something new. An email is to follow giving you updates on health and so on.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 25th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!!! And I'm hoping to hear you're doing better - but hugs are here if you're not :)

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Kristen

(no subject)

from: pixiebelle
date: Jun. 19th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
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I could totally do this in my small hometown newspaper. They love to post stuff like this. Not to mention, my sorority magazine (which I actually did make it in there for blogging and for LJI, but they didn't cover much of the comp. It was more about me).

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 25th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Yes! Great ideas!

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Holly

(no subject)

from: minnesattva
date: Jun. 19th, 2012 12:17 pm (UTC)
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What a fantastic idea and such clever use of the topic.

That's as far as it goes for me, though; my hometown paper might like it but there's no way I'm letting my parents find out about my LJ!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 25th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Yeah - it's tough to decide when to self-promote and when privacy is more valuable :)

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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Jun. 20th, 2012 07:25 am (UTC)
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Haha! I glimpsed this earlier last week, and meant to get back to it... but I thought it was another random humor entry, such as the "Week eleven-billion, Stardate 1076.225" thing you did earlier.

Though why would you waste such a genius piece of meta and NOT get credit for it? Especially with six entries to write. o_O

I think "trapeze artist" someone underplays your talents, doesn't it?

And my god, did we really start with 330+ people? :0 Though this week, it feels as if I'm reading entries corresponding to about week 7 counts. Yikes!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 25th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Thank you :) Glad you came back to comment!

"Trapeze artist" is my default when I'm talking on a plane :) It starts a better conversation than, "I run a small circus company. It's exactly as much of a pain in the ass as running a pizza delivery, only there's no free pizza."

It was so freaking tough to get through all the reading this week! I think it's being out of the routine, though, because I read 200-some entries for weeks, and now I'm like, shit, 189, are you kidding??? But I bet part of it is that everyone left is GOOD, whereas earlier there were entries that it was easier to breeze through and go, OK, almost there but not quite, or, good concept work on execution, whereas now all the entries require me to more seriously engage to distinguish between shades of good.

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basric

(no subject)

from: basric
date: Jun. 20th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
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Very original

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 23rd, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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m_malcontent

(no subject)

from: m_malcontent
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
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Actually a fine idea! Well done.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 23rd, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I sent it to my paper, so we'll see if anything turns up :)

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m strobel

(no subject)

from: mstrobel
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 09:18 am (UTC)
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Okay this is *awesome* :D

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 23rd, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
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This is fantastic. I hope it is okay to save a copy for personal reference. I have been attending a memoir writing group at the library and I'll bet I could get something into the library newsletter. I'm all for PR and promotion of this fabulous contest that Gary has given us.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 23rd, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
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Please do! Use at will, change as needed :)

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Jemima Pauler

(no subject)

from: jem0000000
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. Aren't you worried about being stalked or something from it, though?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 23rd, 2012 12:39 am (UTC)
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You know, I already live such a public life - I probably send out 50 press releases a year for various projects and it's never been an issue. Our company has some guidelines for how to be nice to fans without letting them cross the line, and we keep a company Facebook page for that reason, too. Mostly, I want people to know who I am and what I'm doing, and to be interested in it and purchase tickets, so whatever the opposite of stalking is, that's what I'm afraid of :)

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alycewilson

(no subject)

from: alycewilson
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Brilliant! I may just appropriate this. FYI, Gary's last name is Dreslinski,

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 23rd, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
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Please do! And thanks - I went to high school with Gary, so I did know his last name, but in the previous Idol publicity I saw (the article on amenquohi) his last name wasn't used, so I thought I'd err on the side of caution :)

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