The Lede Gets You the “Rest of the Story”

One of the areas most new authors struggle with is how to promote their book, and how to structure their publicity so that it converts to … books sold!  Being writers, most of them are creative and have some great ideas – but don’t know quite how to implement them.  My purpose is to help you walk away with real-world ideas and feedback on your publicity and marketing experiences.

Your gain may be recognized in one of many ways:

  1. building your list quickly
  2. getting more people to stand up and take notice about you
  3. creating marketing systems, rather than reinventing the wheel
  4. developing newsworthy stories that will grab the media
  5. learning how to sell without feeling like the local used car salesman

"Lede" the way

Life is crazy and as an author – you would rather be, well, writing!  You just feel so pressed for time and set aside the activities that would connect you to your target audience and the media contacts who could help you with that task.  Guess what?  They are all equally busy and consumed with activities as well.  Did you know that most reporters and editors rarely read through an entire press release?  Statistics support that you have about three and a half seconds to get their attention!  How do you do that?  With what in the industry is known as a lede.

Side Note:

At its simplest, lede can be seen as an odd spelling of “lead”- what is the lead/lede of your story? What is the main (first) paragraph? This is your “lede.” The quirky spelling comes from early printers, who needed to distinguish it from other, similar words such as lead (the metal). This word is most common in newspaper publishing, but is also used in the magazine industry.

In 25 words or less, your mission is to include the most important information you want the reader to know – this is not intended to be a summary of the release.  The following are important considerations for writing your lede.

  1. Provide succinct details.
  2. Do not include any advertising, propaganda or exaggerations.
  3. Limit it to who, what, where, when and how – these will help you later develop the release story itself.
  4. Make the lede a bold, attention getter – this is your one chance to make them want to read more.
  5. Make sure it is written in language your target market will understand; don’t use jargon or complicated technology.
  6. When you read what you have written, ask yourself if it makes the reader “care” about reading the rest of the story.
  7. Get to the point!  Don’t use a lot of rhetoric; use action words to keep it moving.

Action Step:

The best way to learn a process is to study those who have been successful at their endeavors.  We are unbelievably fortunate to have easy access to knowledge of every type through the Internet.   Take advantage of that and look through a few press releases and see how that audience “capture” is achieved.  I found the following example by completing a Google search for “current press releases”.  Click here for the rest of the story.


—People with digestive tract cancers at particular risk

March 29, 2010-People with diabetes who undergo cancer surgery are more likely to die in the month following their operations than those who have cancer but not diabetes, an analysis by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests.

The study, to be published in the April issue of the journal Diabetes Care, finds that newly diagnosed cancer patients — particularly those with colorectal or esophageal tumors — who also have Type 2 diabetes have a 50 percent greater risk of death following surgery. Roughly 20 million Americans — about 7 percent of the population — are believed to have diabetes and the numbers continue to grow.

Using this as example, take some time and work at crafting your own “lede.”

Anna Weber

When everything seems like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top
Author Unknown

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