As an indie / self-published author, promotion can be a hard thing. Book blogs and bloggers have a great community and always on hand to offer help with getting your book noticed. However, getting noticed by the press (newspapers, magazines, radio stations) on the other hand are a different kettle of fish altogether! They will only cover your story and/or book release if it’s news worthy, and you have to compete with all the other events going on at the same time.
I’ve released two books so far, and for both releases I’ve been featured in local newspapers, magazines, appeared on a radio station and is currently about to embark on my first author talk at a library! Go me! Yet it isn’t easy and many people have asked me over the last year on how I’ve managed to get these features. Apart from sending cheeky emails, the single most precious and successful way to get noticed – is to send a press release. They are designed to get you noticed, look professional and ease your way into the wider world … outside of the internet.
By popular demand, I’ve decided to write a how-to on writing a press release, in the hope that all you lovely wonderful indie authors out there may give yourself, or rather your book, the best possible start in life.
First most, you need to have all the facts. Make sure your email is up-to-date, your phone number accessible and make sure all the addresses are correct. You want to be contacted don’t you? Just imagine how frustrated you would be if months after sending out a press release, you suddenly realise that you put the wrong phone number down and missed out a . in the email address?
You don’t need Microsoft Word, but a suitable word processing program is a must. A simple notepad writes text/font in such an unprofessional manner, you’ll be laughed at by all of the editors whom you send the press release to. Also, never ever write a press release out by hand. Sure, you can write out a draft by hand in your lunch break, trip to the café, even whilst on the toilet – but only ever send a typed release.
Your header on the press release must always be centred and in bold, and of course eye-catching. A sentence is too much, aim for five – eight words only. For my latest release of The Caseworker’s Memoirs, I sent out a press release to all of the local newspapers in my area. My header was simply Lincolnshire Local Releases New Book – it’s simple, to the point, yet reveals all the information for the editor to know whether or not it is for them. I live in Lincolnshire and I have a new book out. You don’t need a cryptic, overly-fancy header as it could either be misunderstood or cryptic.
Most importantly, your first paragraph should always reveal what it is that you plan to appear in the media for, i.e. – releasing a new book. You need to give them your name, age, book title, availability, format – all in an accessible, yet well-written way. Never use bullet-points. My very first line for my most recent press release reads: Gainsborough born writer, Dan Thompson (25) has just released a fiction novel entitled The Caseworker’s Memoirs, and is on sale on amazon as both an ebook and paperback. You’ll notice here that again it is to-the-point, yet reveals all the necessary information.
Next go on to write a shorter, yet wittier synopsis of the book. It needs to let the editor know what the book is about, but needs to grab them as well. The article will use a lot of the information you give them in this first paragraph, and it needs to be true, yet ‘fluffy’ as I call it. Big your book up, say its emotional, terrifying, action-packed … whatever suits your book. They won’t have read your book, and it is up to you to make it sound as good as it possibly can.
This is should, in most circumstances, reveal any extra information surrounding the release. When I released my short poetry ebook Life is all but a vast array of Colours, half of all proceeds are donated to pancreatic cancer UK. This is exactly the type of information that editors will want to highlight and perhaps shape their entire article on. If you are making any appearances at libraries, bookshops etc, this would also make a good time to mention it.
So you’ve written what the book is about, and you’ve given them an angle to work on – what’s next? Well it certainly has to be about you, because let’s face it, it isn’t a book review, the media and press want to let their readers get up, close and personal with the author.
I think this part of the press release really gives the editor something to flesh out the article with. Qualifications, degrees, courses passed etc … anything that gives your writing any credibility is a must. This lets the readers know that you have experience and that by purchasing your book, they are bound to get quality. Even if it is your first book to be released, by listing past accomplishments, you’ll still get the required effect.
You can also talk about your previous book releases here too. Did they rank amongst Amazon’s genre bestsellers list, inside of the top 100, chart amongst a booksellers chart? All of this information is vital, not only to flesh out the article, but to also give you a certain stature. You may not be published by the big traditional publishing houses, but you are an author, and all of your hard fought promotion work needs to be applauded.
Finishing up your Press Release
The last part of your press release should most certainly be your contact details. Name, address, contact telephone number, email, websites. This gives the editor the information and choice as to how to contact you. Perhaps they don’t deal with people directly over the phone and instead prefer to write an email. By giving the choice, you are opening the door for more responses.
And FINALLY to finish a press release, you need to centre three #’s. This lets the editor know that it is the end of the press release. Again it won’t mean they’ll disregard your sheet if it doesn’t have the #’s, but it does add more professionalism into your release. I’ve shown an example below:
It is important to note that it is always best to only use one side of A4 – more sheets means more attention and with an entire newspaper/magazine to fill, the editor won’t waste time with bundles. Short, simple and to the point as I’ve already said. I’ve uploaded my most recent press release for you to use as a template. Feel free to look at it and simply change the information under the headings. And Good Luck!
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