There’s some controversy going around about press releases. Are they still relevant? After all, who reads a newspaper anymore?
Plenty of people, that’s who. Whether digital or paper, newspapers are still widely distributed. A story about you or your book will boost your author’s platform. Anything you can do to get exposure for your book will help.
But it’s important to realize a press release is not an advertisement. It is a news story (told in third person) that generates excitement about your book or book event.
The two most important elements in a press release are the headline and the opening paragraph.
- The headline should be short and catchy, five to seven words. No punctuation. Don’t use words like is, the, an. Don’t start with something dull like Release of a New Book. No one cares that you’ve released a new book. They want to know what it will do for them. Try New Fantasy Book Teaches Kids Family Values. Or Local Author Speaks About Writing at Library.
- The opening paragraph should be no more than three sentences and should answer the basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Start with a brief description of your book or book event and then add who is announcing it—not the other way around.
For instance: Fantasy author, Bob Poppins, gives free seminar at the regional library this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the multimedia room, Lily the librarian announced today. The seminar focuses on novice writers who have their eye on becoming a novelist. Coffee and donuts will be served.
Avoid marketing hype.
A press release is not a sales pitch, and editors are not interested in giving you a free ad.
So what can you write about? Here are some ideas.
- Speaking or presenting at an event or convention
- Winning an award
- Community involvement (setting up a Little Free Library, donating books to a school)
- Free podcast, seminar, eBook, etc.
- Celebrity endorsement of your book
- Trade show exhibit/book signing
- Contest or sweepstakes
- Starting your own publishing company
Here’s a sample fill-in-the-blanks press release to get you started. This one’s for a non-fiction book, but it will give you an idea of the format.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: [author name], [author phone no.], [author e-mail]
Local [Woman/Man] Featured in New Book About [Book Topic]
[city, state] – [date] – [City] [description of individual such as entrepreneur, executive, consultant, author, etc.] [First and Last name] is featured in a new book about [book topic].
[Last name] is one of several experts who shared expertise in the new book, [Book Title], about [short book description].
[Last name]’s contribution related to [brief general description].
[Book Title] is [more descriptive information pulled from your book’s back cover].
For more information about [Book Title], visit [your website URL].
After crafting your press release, email it to the appropriate media contacts by copying and pasting the entire text into the email message. Don’t attach it.
Send it to newspapers and radio stations.
- Weekly newspaper: Editor
- Daily newspaper: The appropriate section editor or beat reporter, depending on the book’s topic (lifestyle? religion? business? education?) and the local section editor
- Radio stations: Producer of morning drive-time programming
Send your press release the day before the event. TIP: Don’t send it on the hour. Everyone else sends theirs on the hour (usually 8:00 a.m.) and yours might get lost in the shuffle. Instead, send it at 9:12 a.m. or 11:18 a.m. etc.
Don’t forget bloggers.
Book bloggers are great for exposure, from book reviews to interviews. But don’t just send them your press release out of the blue. It will look like spam.
Here is the best way to approach book bloggers.
- The first thing you should do is to come up with a list of blogs read by your target audience. Just search the internet for romance book blogs, science fiction blogs, etc.
- Become an active member of the community on the blogs you’re interested in. Comment on a few posts, and make sure your comments add something to the conversation. Never write self-promotional comments.
- When you contact the blogger, be sure your press release is as concise as possible. Make it clear that you know the recipient’s blog. You can do this by tying your pitch into a recent topic they wrote about.
If a journalist or blogger picks up your story and writes about it, don’t forget to share the article on social media.
Press releases won’t cost you anything but time. However, if you feel more comfortable with a professional, I recommend:
They offer affordable assistance in writing and distributing your press release.