Press Releases 101
Author marketing tips anyone can use
You want your new book to be in the news. Or you’re in an anthology and want to share your win with the world.
Getting a feature article in a newspaper will do that!
A friend of mine, “K”, had outstanding success recently by using press releases (PRs) with a little guidance from me. Her success reminded me that it’s worthwhile to spend some time discussing how to put these valuable marketing tools together and what to do with them.
You can use this technique, too, of course.
NOTE: Although I shared a few releases with her that I had written over the years for a few different clients, Kari’s success comes down to her own writing. I didn’t write her PR for her, after all.
She put it together just using the examples as a template. She sent it in. And she got front page of her local newspaper (in the Graduation Issue, no less).
Bet sales go up a bit…
Format of a Press Release
Note: You can see an example PR I wrote awhile back. Use it as a template if you wish! — https://goo.gl/cVldOX.
Setup: 1” margins all around, Arial 10pt or Times New Roman 10pt, single-spaced text. You can either use space-after-paragraph or include a blank line between paragraphs, but not both. No indenting new paragraphs.
- At the top, write in bold all-caps, DRAFT ONLY – NOT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Then set “draft only – not” to underscore and red text. This will stay on there until you put it on the wire, so it will be on there when you send it to your local papers, later.
- Skip one line and put your contact information at the top right (just like Shunn Format!). Check the example PR.
- Skip two lines and write your headline. This is the Big Idea. Use your chosen font, centered, 16 pt, bold. All words should start with a capital letter except of, and, etc.
- Skip one line and put your subhead. Use your chosen font, centered, 12 pt italics. Only the first word should be capitalized. This needs to be a supporting statement that ADDS to the headline’s idea.
- Skip one line and put your dateline. This is the date you will “put it on the wire,” not today’s date. Follow the format in the example press release–”City, Nation/State – November XX, 2015 — Mimonis, introducing Mother Nature to scientific research, today announced…”
Notice how the format is location, hyphen, date, em dash (spaces surrounding), your name, your tagline if you have one, followed by the announcement.
The sentence that follows “today announced” should be simple and to the point, and basically restates the headline. For example, “… her inclusion in the Medley of Sentences science fiction anthology from Publisher Name.”
Following that first sentence, there should be another sentence or two in the first paragraph, which build on the main statement. For example, “The anthology showcases work by aspiring, up-and-coming authors, and will be available June 17th, 2015 from Amazon.com and other online vendors.”
The second paragraph is optional but would describe the author, the book, and/or what’s newsworthy about it in more detail. “Nancy Smith, a native of X, STATE, has been writing since 2012. This will be her 7th published work, following on the heels of her successful book launch of A Title Goes Here, also available via Amazon.com.”
The next paragraph is a quote from you, the author. The ONLY intention of this quote is to let a journalist write a story with a quote from you as though they interviewed you. It should be informal, but stay focused on what’s newsworthy.
Example: Nancy Smith said, “I’m thrilled to add another CITY, STATE name to its list of published authors. This book has been a long journey, but I was blessed to have the support of my family. I think it’s only with their help that I was able to write this novel. I’m proud to be a woman sci-fi author, and to be embraced by the reading community is a fantastic feeling.
Obviously, if you’re a man, omit the part about being a woman, but if you have any sort of minority viewpoint, use it. Harsh, but news is news.
After the quote paragraph, throw in one paragraph that details the publisher, when the book will be available, what formats, where, list URLs, and so on… The information people need to find the book.
Lastly, you may throw in an About section that would be your brief (100 words or less) bio, followed by a link to your website and Facebook Page. Maybe a twitter handle.
Without skipping a line, the following line should be centered. Write three hashtags with a space between them, or the word END in all caps.
Once you have it written
Send it to your local reporter or the paper’s newsroom. Check your local paper’s website for that information. Usually, you’ll send it to the Newsroom email address, but if they have a listing of editors, you can send it to ONE other–the local reporter, lifestyle reporter, etc. Attach your headshot and the book’s cover, both 300dpi if possible.
Then, head on over to either PR.com or PRLog.com (but not both). Remove the “draft – not for” portion of your PR so that only the FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE still shows. Set it up to go out to the wire services on the day you want it published. Again, you can attach your headshot and the book cover.
TIP: At the wire service, you can also hyperlink text inside your PR before sending it out! Do that, for sure, but not too much.
- You only want 2 or 3 links:
- Hyperlink the book title to its sales page on Amazon or BookFunnel, etc
- Link your site URL
- Maybe link your name to your Facebook page or profile? Or your Twitter handle to your Twitter profile?
A PR will give you some additional coverage, but it does other things, too, such as giving you material to put into your website’s Media Center or Press Kit. You do have such a page, right? And it gives you a gazillion external links pointing back to your site and your book page.
Follow this simple process, once for each book launch. You may not get covered every time, but you will sometimes, and the back links alone are worth the brief effort.