How to write a press release to publicise your new book
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
A good press release will be picked up by the media and barely altered. The dream is for the media to print your press release word for word or for them to contact you for an extended interview. Read my tips below on how to write a press release for your book.
For Tenebrasco, I decided not to write a press release announcing I was launching the book. I regret not sending out a press release as I lost an excellent opportunity to spread the word about the Pearl Wielder Trilogy. At the time it all felt like too much pressure! Instead, I decided to issue a press release that had more of a call to action than just ‘buy my book’ (which I now realise was me shying away from self-promotion!). I hosted an event at a local charity café book shop for anyone interested in learning how to go about self-publishing. My press release could thus serve two functions:
Announce my book
Encourage people to attend the event
So, how do you write a good press release for your book? Off the back of my press release, I was invited to speak on the radio, featured in the local newspaper, an online article, mentioned on social media etc. But, the main takeaway was that at my event almost all of the attendees outside of family and friends said they heard about the event through the news.
I was trained to write a press release by two incredibly talented former journalists in my role as an Account Executive at a Public Relations agency. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so your press release is picked up by the media.
Make it look professional
If your press release looks legitimate it is more likely to be taken seriously. In the header include your author logo or if you don't have one be creative and perhaps use the cover of your book.
Always include the date somewhere at the top of your press release. If it gets printed you want people to know whether it is urgent.
Writing the title is the hardest part. In this one title, you need to describe exactly what is the point of the press release. It can't be too salesy 'Buy new book written by XXX' sounds more like an advert than a news story.
'Local author publishes first young-adult fantasy novel'
'Former XXX chef publishes debut recipe book'
Try to make the title of your press release relevant to the news house, blog or site you are sending it too.
Introductory paragraph and beyond
Once you've written your title it is time to start piecing together the story. I always remind myself that most people never finish an article so you need to lead with the most important information.
What? - Book is being published/local author is publishing a book
When? - Date the book is being published
Where? - Purchase information
Who? - Tell us a little about you
Why? - All the interesting information about your journey to publishing your book
Conclusion - summarise all the key information in a final couple of sentences, for an example see below.
[Author Name's] debut YA urban fantasy novel - [Name of Book] will be available on [Date of publish] at [Where is it available].
Depending on the angle you are taking with your press release you can re-order these sections. But, when you look at a press release it should start with short punchy sections and then your paragraphs can get longer towards the end.
Quotes are very important. A quote is the one piece of information (other than facts or data) that a journalist cannot change. They can shorten your quote but they cannot change what you have written. Use your quote to include the most important information you want readers to know.
Once you've finished answering all the questions above and you've slotted in a choice quote or two it is time to finish your press release. The standard is to write 'ENDS' - centred and in bold on a new line.
Underneath 'ENDS' include the factual information.
Contact information - name, email address and phone number
Standardised wording about the book
Standardised wording about the author
Links to your bookish profiles for more information
Despite all your effort writing a press release if you send it to the media or a blog site without a photo (unless it is radio or tv), they are very unlikely to use your press release. A mediocre story with a good photo is more likely to be used than a good story with no photo.
Creating a distribution list
All media and blog websites will have a 'contact us' page which lists the relevant email addresses for you to send your press release. Be targeted with who you are emailing but remember different departments might not be very good at sharing the press releases they receive. If a media outlet has separate emails for sports, features, events and news I would definitely send your release to features, events and news (unless of course, it is a sports-related book you have written!).
Sending your press release to the media
You would think that now the writing and research is complete it is easy to send your press release to the media. There are a couple of steps left and things to consider:
Write a punchy subject line (possibly repeating the title of your press release)
Write an email that explicitly details what you are sending and why (detail the press release, photo, book cover image etc.)
Mention that you are available for interview
Copy and paste the entirety of your release into the bottom of your email (opening attachments is a lot of effort)
Attach your release and all your photos
Now, before you hit send think carefully about where you are sending the press release. If it is a monthly magazine you want to know when their deadline for copy is for the month. If your book is being published in June, to get mentioned in the June edition you probably need to send your press release out early May. Whereas for a news site that posts daily you can send your press release a couple of weeks before your book is published. Personally I don't send press releases on Friday afternoon, or over the weekend, I like to imagine my press release landing in the newsroom or a blogger's inbox right when they are planning their content.
Bloggers and journalists are busy, don't be afraid to follow up either with a phone call or another email to nudge them about your press release. Try to be more original though than asking - 'Have you read my press release?' If you get to know the media they are more likely to run your story.
Things to remember:
Send a photo of yourself
Send a picture of your book
Keep your press release under a page in length
Include contact details on the press release (in case it is forwarded on or printed etc.)
I hope you found this blog post interesting. Good luck with writing your press release and launching your book! If you have any questions contact me here or on Instagram @hannah.reads.