Can press releases about your book grab the media’s attention? Yes, if done correctly. There is a format to them, and certain key elements that are absolutely necessary. If those are missing, your release will land in the slush pile.
I’ve played around with releases for several years and think I’ve come up with a format and style that works. At least it’s working for me. Last week when one of my books was named a finalist in a national book award contest, I sent out a few dozen releases. It got picked up and Monday the story appeared. Yeah! The magazine used the wording of the release almost verbatim – so you can see how I wrote the release.
I thought I’d share what I’ve learned and hopefully you’ll pick up a few helpful tips for writing attention-grabbing news releases to promote YOUR book and bring you more sales!
1) Write an attention-grabbing headline. It must be newsworthy. Not that you wrote a book (thousands of people do that everyday), but rather something unique and how it can tie into some current event.
2) Use the correct format (sample below) including the (a) title, (b) “For Immediate Release,” (c) Summary, (d) the six paragraphs, including a quote and finally, (e) the contact information. Never, ever go beyond one page. Always end with the “#” sign.
3) Include (insert into the body) a photo of your book cover and your photograph.
4) Send it to the correct people. It takes time to discover who are the correct people, it may involve calling around, but it’s well worth it. For TV and radio you want to reach either the producers or associate producers. Make sure the stations you contact do book reviews or author interviews. If they don’t, move on. For newspapers and magazines, contact the arts, entertainment or book editors. Also, don’t forget to send it to your college alumni office, your fraternity/sorority national magazine, all groups you belong to, every newspaper of everywhere you have ever lived, etc.
5) Depending on your budget, submit your release to PR sites (PRLog.com, etc.) Some are free, some are not. These sites don’t usually gain you media attention, but they could increase the traffic to your website to increase your books sales and isn’t that what you actually want?
6) In addition to the release, be sure to share the news, in a conversational way, with your friends via email and social media networks. Include a picture of your book’s cover along with a link to read/purchase it.
7) Finally, follow up with the people who received your release. Call them and offer to give them an interview. Since many authors skip this step, you will stand out.
I hope you have found this helpful and the media snaps up your release and promotes you and your book! The sample format is shown below.
Title (bold, initial caps only)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (all caps, in bold)
Subtitle (initial caps only, regular text-not bold)
City, State – Date (bold)
1st Paragraph – Grabs attention immediately with the most important information first. This should only be 2-3 sentences telling the who, what, when, where, and why. It often covers the same information from the summary, but in more detail.
2nd Paragraph – Tell more about the book. Why did you write it? Who would enjoy reading it? What’s it about? Give the media a reason why they should select to review or read your book instead of all the others submitted.
3rd Paragraph – This should be a short quote from a respected authority or from a review. To make this stand out, put the quote in italics and center it.
4th Paragraph – Here is where the information goes about where the book is available for purchase and any other general information you want to share (publisher, ISBN number, available in paperback or e-book on Amazon.com)
5th Paragraph – Tell the reader what to do. Your call to action. Typically it’s something like: “For more information about your book title or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact your name [or publicist’s name] at phone number [or email].” – NOTE: When posting releases on PR websites, use links rather than phone numbers and email addresses for security reasons.
6th Paragraph – In bold lettering: About the Author followed by a brief background about you, including professional credentials and be sure to mention any previously published work, awards, or significant reviews you’ve received.
Final Paragraph – In bold lettering: Contact Information followed by your contact information: name, address, phone, email, website. (See 5th paragraph above regarding security measures.)