Press Release Basics

Every author could benefit from some tips on how to write a press release. For those who have never written a press release, you may have a lot of questions:
How do I write the release?
Who is going to care about my little book?
Where do I send it?

WHAT?
A press release is an official statement of a news story intended for newspapers, journalists and other media. The media uses this release and makes it known to the public.

WHO?
You should create a press release. You can write it yourself or hire someone else to do it. The cost could range from $100-$500. Journalists will be turned off immediately if there are misspellings or it appears to be unprofessional. At least have a professional editor proof it. Your printer should have someone on staff to assist you.

WHEN?
It is best to distribute the release when the book is ready to launch and then periodically after that for more exposure. We recommend a re-write and circulating the press release again about 2 months later. Some would argue there is no good time of day but most of the research says that optimum times include early in the week and early in the day around 9-10 am. Your release will get lost in the email abyss if it is sent too early.

HOW?
There are quite a few good samples and templates online. Most of these examples include 4 major parts of a release: 1) Headline, 2) Summary Statement, 3) Main Body, 4) Biographical Info. Here is an example of a simple layout: Press-Release-Template. Also search online for sample book press releases if you need to brainstorm and get ideas or motivation.

WHERE?
You can always start with free sites first but quantity isn’t necessarily better than quality. No one wants to be a habitual spammer of releases. Personally, Dig into your local media and send it to appropriate sources to ensure quality too. This will take time and effort but will be worthwhile. Tweak the release to fit the personality of different journalists. You can add a personal note as well. Let them know why the release is important to them – but only in 2-3 sentences (not paragraphs). Plan to email this and put the release in the body. Don’t attach a pdf or Word doc. Journalists will not open unknown attachments due to time and a fear of potential viruses.
Here is a list of places to start:

Your website – FREE
Local Newspapers/Radio channels – FREE
PRLog.com – FREE
PRWeb.com – COST
Mass Media Distribution – COST
24-7 Press Release – COST

WHY?
Writing a press release can help create a buzz and awareness about your book. In turn, it can direct people to your purchasing site and invite more sales.
So in a nutshell….
DO’S
Do have it edited or have a professional help you.
Do make it newsworthy – bring out the expert in you and be the source they need to talk to.
Do send it out to all free release sites. Also be specific and target certain journalists that will be prone to writing about your topic. Tweak your press release to fit that journalist or publication.
Do seek out newspaper/radio media – start with local media first.
Do get to the point. Keep the release brief and no longer than one page.
Do follow a template to make sure your release is done correctly and you provide proper info.
Do keep it in the 3rd person.
Do try and try again. Sending out releases is like going fishing – sometimes they bite and sometimes they don’t.

DON’T’S
Don’t use crazy fonts.
Don’t start release with headline in all caps/bold/underlined. Capitalize the heading like you would a title for a book.
Don’t send an attachment of the release.
Don’t just send the release to any person you know with an email.

Writing a press release can easily be put together and also cost efficient. This is an important step in the self-publishing process and the success of your book.