How to write a press release for your book
If you’re trying to promote your book, you’ll almost certainly want to write a press release.
A press release is an article you send to mainstream media (such as newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations), bloggers and website editors to bring attention to some newsworthy event. In your case, that event may be the release of your book, an award it receives, or your scheduled book reading at the local coffeehouse.
Should you want to increase book sales, you’ll need to find ways to reach a great number of people in one shot. A newspaper article or interview on a blog is an excellent way to accomplish that. But to get a write-up about you or the book, you need to let the media, bloggers and others know that you exist. A press release helps you achieve that.
Unless you actually send a press release promoting your book and you, you’re very unlikely to receive any attention. Why? Because almost nobody knows about you or your book.
A well-written press release general contains these basic elements:
• Contact information – This lists how the press release’s recipient can communicate with you. It gives your name, snail mail address, telephone number, email and website address.
• Release date – Sometimes you want to advise the media of an upcoming event but ask that they withhold the information until a certain time; the media often appreciates this as this gives them time to write a news story and plan coverage. If you want reporters to wait to release information, write “EMBARGOED UNTIL (GIVE DATE).” If the media is free to use the release as soon they set eyes upon it, write “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE)
• Headline – In four or five words, tell exactly what the press release is about in a compelling manner. Try to connect the wording to the media outlet or reporter you sent it to by listing a geographical area or topic that they cover.
• Subhead – This is a second headline that either elaborates on the main headline or adds information that would be of interest to the media person reading it.
• Dateline – Appearing at the beginning of the press release’s opening paragraph, the dateline gives what city the news originated from and the day it was written.
• Lede – This is the opening paragraph of the news article you’ve written. It typically gives the who, what, why, when, where and how of the news article
• Text – This is the bulk of the press release. It tells what the book is about, biographical information about the author, and offers quotations from the author or others relevant to the news even being covered, such as the bookstore manager where you’re having a book reading or the head of the organization that is giving the book or the author an award.
• Book specs – This is a bulleted list that tells the following about your book: date it was published; publisher; ISBN: 978-0-615-51220-4; price; pages; cover: (hard or paperback); trim size; website URL
• End – Center the “###” after the book specs list to indicate the press release is finished.
• Captions for any photos – Also known as cutlines, these tell about any photo that was sent with the press release. Make sure the name of the photo given in the cutline matches that of the sent photo.
• Contact information – This repeats the contact information provided at the press release’s beginning. This is done to ensure that the media can easily find how to reach you (which is what you want them to do!)
For a sample press release (in this case, announcing the publication of a book), see the one I wrote for my book, “Hikes with Tykes: A Practical Guide to Day Hiking with Kids.” The release itself was published exactly as written by several media outlets and generated reporter phone calls from as many more.
Remember that each time you send a press release to a different reporter or media outlet, you probably need to revise a little of it. Media and bloggers look for releases that are very specific to their markets, whether that be geographic in the case of newspapers or topical in the case of bloggers. Gearing each release to the recipient increases your chances of garnering attention. In addition, update the date provided in the dateline as well, using the day of the week that you actually send the press release.
Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Atlanta, Georgia, or a small town like Atlanta, Idaho, I can provide that second eye.