A book press release is a special type of news announcement designed to attract media coverage. A well-written book press release will include all the important information about your book, including why it’s significant, who should read it, and how it can help them. Before you start writing, it’s important to understand what makes a good press release and how to write a press release for a book.
For many authors, the process of writing a book is where their passions begin and end, but unfortunately, that is not typically enough to generate a successful and sustainable career. The writing is arguably the piece of the puzzle that requires the most creativity, but other elements are needed to grab the reader’s attention and make sales. These areas can eventually become just as thrilling as the writing process, especially once you begin to see the fruits of your labor.
Using a press release as part of your overall strategy is technically optional, but you shouldn’t skip it. By comparison, a single successful press release can show you just how much visibility you lose out on but not having one. You can take to writing one yourself or work with a team of professionals. Either way, you should certainly have the foundational knowledge of writing a press release for a book, no matter if you are the author or another team member.
Why you need a press release
Before we get into how to write a press release, we should explain why. Here is a detailed description of why book press releases are essential.
An increase in exposure
If for no other reason, you should use a press release to increase the opportunities for book exposure. Taking advantage of media outlets and platforms will catapult your book into being sold in so many places, you will be amazed. Not to mention, far more places than would ever be physically possible for you to distribute it yourself.
The internet can be a powerful tool, and many professionals and consumers head to the internet before, or entirely instead of, going to a brick and mortar store. A press release also means that your book can be shared and shared, and shared many times over. And many times more than word of mouth alone could ever achieve.
Here are a few opportunities for exposure that may come your way as a result of a good press release:
- Local media reports
- Live or taped interviews
- Speaking engagements or expos
- Increased traffic to your personal/professional websites
When you consider this possibility, the answer to why you need a press release should be rhetorical. As a strategy to work smarter and not harder, once you publish the release, allow it to do the work for you and act as a promotional tool many times over.
How to write a book press release
Learning how to write a compelling book press release may take some trial and error, and there will be a learning curve. Additionally, the details will evolve as you grow as an author and with each new book. Keep in mind that although you need to anticipate and adapt to these changes, a press release template can stay pretty consistent from project to project.
Go step by step and do not place undue pressure on yourself. It is ok not to write a groundbreaking press release initially. It matters more that you get a good feel for why you need one and how to handle the process.
Identify the audience
Who are you hoping to reach? You need to know the answer to that question unequivocally before you begin, or else the tone and target of your entire release will be off. Luckily, you may have already established this during the writing process. In many instances, the audience that pertains to your book’s niche is the same for which you will be writing your release.
Use a creative and catchy headline
This is the first thing that anyone, and everyone, will see, so it needs to be good. There is no promise that people are going to read the release beyond the title, so it must pack a punch. Here are few examples of ways to generate a title for your press release that will help you find one that suits your needs:
- Use current events and play your title off them
- ‘Beat the summer heat with the latest romance novel.”
- Use bold language that is interesting, unique, and descriptive
- ‘A sensational tale of a teacher’s unabashedly brave quest for the truth.’
- Use a professional title that gives you credibility (Ph.D., CEO, etc.)
- ‘The latest work from John Smith Ph.D.”
- Use a headline that solves a problem for your audience
- ‘How to finally focus on and improve your sleep habits
While all these examples are just the tip of the iceberg, you get the gist of the suggestions. Your press release should be authentic to your work, style, and audience, which all begins with the headline.
Pick a format
The layout and format of your press release matter just as much as the content. Be sure to make the aesthetic cohesive and pleasing to the eye. Pick fonts and images that complement each other, and do not fear the power of white space. Your format may have to change depending on where and to whom you distribute the release, but it is not a bad idea to have a theme that compliments and authenticates your work.
A generic press release will bore the people whose paths it crosses, and in that case, proves pretty ineffective. Be sure that you also cater your format to the media outlet that you are using; the content can remain the same, but how you arrange it can be switched up depending.
Writing the content and what to include
It can be a challenge to understand exactly what to include in your press release, especially if this is the first one that you have written. Look at examples of others that have felt memorable, and try to emulate that feeling in yours. While it is important to remain original and never plagiarize, there is nothing wrong with using examples to fuel your own creativity.
It would help if you were to include:
- Date and location- this will pertain to the date you plan to put out the release, as well as the primary geographical location that you want to be working from. This, of course, will not limit you geographically, but you should have a ‘home base’ identified.
- The 5 W’s- your release needs to, at the minimum, answer for your audience:
- Who the release is intended to apply to
- What information the public must know
- When the public can expect the work to be made available
- Where people can go to experience your piece as a final product or learn more about your work in general
- Why people should care and why your book is significant
- Easy to understand content- while it’s true you need a great headline, the main content should be simple and easy to understand so that people get the info they need in a way that respects their time.
- Biographical information on the author- People want, and need to know, information on the person who wrote the book itself. When you draft the release, do not forget to include:
- Background on the author, previous notable works, hobbies, location of residence. Anything that is going to foster a personal connection between author and audience is good. Preferably if it’s something that your audience would also be interested in.
- High-profile reviews, any reviews from prestigious outlets, should be mentioned to increase the author’s credibility.
- Awards and recognition, an example would be something like ‘previously hailed by the New York Times as top 100 authors to watch’ or something comparable, so long as it is accurate and provable.
- Links to websites and social media accounts, be sure that your target audience has somewhere to go to get more information should they want it. This is also a great opportunity to control the pathway of ‘clicks’ because it takes the consumer directly from your release to your intended websites without the middle man of a search engine.
A typical press release is not long, so having said that, once you have included these suggestions, you are well on your way to a completed piece.
Who gets press releases? You have probably seen news stories that include information about things of this nature, but how the news outlets got that information in the first place is less obvious. The press release itself deserves a considerable portion of your time and attention but don’t sleep on distribution.
Getting this information into the right hands takes finesse and many considerations. Namely, who do you want to reach? Once you know the answer to this question, you can work backward and focus on where those individuals go to get information? And the answer to that question leads you to distribution channels to pursue.
The local press is one of the best places to send your announcement if you want an immediate release. Many media outlets have long pathways from when you submit something for them to consider sharing and when they actually will. Your local press will probably still have a process in place, but it will not be anything like a national or global outlet.
Send a free book with your press release. This way, it not only stands out but also allows the reporters to read it, or at least skim, and share a brief synopsis of the plot along with the details you provide in your press release.
Post to websites
Your goal should be to have this press release go viral. To achieve that, you must put it online. Posting to your own blog is smart, and you should do it, but think about where else you can send this press release. Many blogs have opportunities to create and submit guest posts. If your press release suits someone else’s blog niche, try reaching out and providing a guest post!
This is also a savvy way to boost your search engine optimization (SEO) because you can include links back to your own website, when permissible, within the guest blogs. This will create somewhat of a loop for readers and ensure that they can get the information from your release in a way that also pleases search engines. Increasing your odds to be a top hit for search results is never a bad thing.
Publish on your own website
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in other considerations we forget to work from the inside out. Skipping your own website when putting out a press release is more common than you might imagine. This is another way, though, to control the timing and have an immediate release if desired. Since you and your team potentially are in charge of the internal workings of your professional website, you control what gets added and when.
This is also necessary because it gives you a chance to continue the narrative. For example, if you have an upcoming book signing and send that information out to other outlets, there is no guarantee when or if they will report on it. But you control your own website and can be sure that the information gets out there even if it’s only to your current readers.
Event opportunities and expos
Are there places you know of where you can distribute your press release in a big, public way? Of course, you are probably planning a book launch, but you may want to think about getting your press release out into the world in advance of the launch itself. Events and expos are a great way to achieve this. Whether you set up a speaking engagement yourself, for only yourself, or join a collective of professionals to expose your work, events can generate a big buzz reaching many people.
Your colleagues are not your competition. At least not exclusively. And even when they are to an extent, you can lean on them to support your work, as you would theirs. A successful book for one person does not mean a lack of success for another, so there is no reason not to consider this distribution opportunity. Fellow colleagues will have social media followings and industry contacts that will benefit you if they get their hands on your press release.
Just the same as you likely admire other authors and often rave about their works, you likely have admirers who would be happy to tell their following about your next project and how much they anticipate it. This can also bulk up your reputation and credibility within the industry and help you gain the trust of the audience.
Although this has been a lot of information, your hard work as an author deserves the glory of a well-written press release that honors all that hard work. If nothing else, be sure that the pertinent information the audience would need to seek out additional information is clear and concise.
Book promotion should feel exciting, and the release should reflect that. Finding innovative ways to grab a potential reader’s attention might not be easy, but it will be worth it.