If you’re getting ready to publish a book, you have to spread the word about it. You can email everyone you know that you’re writing a book, contact every blogger you’ve ever heard of, or even post a sign on your car so that drivers will be compelled to look you up (yes, I’ve considered this!). But the truth is, no one will even notice these efforts if you can’t get them to care about your book.
This is where a press release comes in. A press release is a short, to-the-point introduction to your book in an effort to get a reporter or the like to care about covering your book. Because reporters are busy and on deadline, a press release should quickly nail why readers would want to hear about this book, and should make writing an article about your book as easy as possible.
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There are numerous ways to write a good press release. Personally, I like to follow a five step formula:
- Start with a compelling headline. You can be quirky or straightforward, but it should grab the reporter’s attention. If necessary, save this part and write it after the rest of the press release is complete.
- First paragraph: The hook. This is the who, what, and why of your book, and why an audience would want to hear about your book.
- Second to third paragraph: Interesting information about your book and yourself.
- Next paragraph: A testimony about your book. This is a great place for a quote by you, or to put someone else’s quote or review about your book. Think about what a reporter would want to use as a quote in their article. If you are quoting someone else, it’s helpful if it’s someone the audience might recognize.
- Final paragraph: Sum up who you are and link back to your website.
Ideally, a press release should be just one page long, and should be simple to read.
Of course, you can follow any formula and still have your press release ignored. Here are some prime reasons why a press release will end up in the slush pile:
- It’s full of grammar issues or typos.
- It isn’t clear who the audience is.
- It’s not clear what the point is.
- It fails to be interesting.
- A reporter can’t find an easy way to write about it.
That last point sums up everything a press release should do. The #1 thing you should think about when writing a press release is, how can this make it easy for a reporter to write about your book? Reporters are on deadline, and they are too busy to unravel why they should write an article about you or your book. You need to give them a clear reason why an audience would care about your book, and offer easy quotes they can insert into an article. Pretend like you’re writing the article yourself in a limited amount of space. Whose attention do you want to grab? What should this audience understand about your book? Can your book fit in with current events, or is it timely in any way? Include that info, and nix any extra info that’s not relevant to the point you are making.
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Finally, and probably the most important part, make sure to personalize your email when you are sending your press release. This means, DO NOT send a mass email with your press release. This is the #1 mistake some authors make, and a sure way to be ignored. Instead, take the time to send the email personally to the editor or reporter you hope to cover your book. After all, you want them to take the time to write about your book. Extend them the same courtesy and take the time to get to know who you’re writing to. Address them by name, and maybe even offer a reason why you thought to send your press release to them, specifically. And because reporters might be sketchy about opening attachments, copy and paste your press release into the body of the email.
Here’s an example of what you can write:
Hi Sally! I am sending you information about my upcoming book that releases on March 15. I thought you might be interested since you wrote about books on creativity last year, and it seemed to gather a great response. I think you will find this book just as compelling, if not more. I’ve attached the press release to this email, and have also copied it in the space below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Ready to craft your own? Here are some sites that offer more information on writing a rocking press release.