When it comes to gaining visibility as an Author, PR can be a powerful tool, but there is a right and a wrong way to get PR.
Many Authors believe that press releases are necessary to get media and PR after they write their book. This is not true. The idea that press releases are required is an artifact from a prior age of media.
That being said, you can still use press releases to help you get PR, and in this piece, we will show you the most current best practices for book press releases.
In this post, you’ll find an explanation of what makes a good press release, information about how to write a press release, and examples of successful press releases.
Plus, here’s a press release template that you can download and use to follow along.
What Is a Book Press Release and Why Do You Want One?
Press releases are brief documents that outline the most important points of your message.
The job of a press release is to convince journalists that your book is worth writing about. If they do write about your book, they often use the release as the basis for their coverage.
That means your press release should be catchy and informative. Journalists don’t want to have to read your whole book to get to the point.
When you write a good press release, the journalist’s job is mostly done for them. They can copy and paste the relevant points, make a few tweaks, and move on.
A press release can be a great marketing tool because it helps get media outlets’ attention and gives them talking points about your book. Writing a good press release can earn you free press and more visibility.
One important point:
Most Authors don’t need to use press releases.
Self-published Authors tend to write for niche audiences, which means that a generic press release sent to large media outlets isn’t the best way to get the word out.
Your personal networks and smaller media outlets are going to be more useful for promoting your book to your specific audience.
But if you do decide to spread the word through the media, a newsworthy press release can help get a journalist’s attention.
So what makes a book launch newsworthy? Here’s the hard truth: it has nothing to do with the book itself.
Media outlets aren’t looking to sell your book; they are looking to reach their target audiences. A book press release doesn’t outline your book or go over every part of it. Instead, it focuses on how the material in your book will connect with a certain group of people.
The idea is to give journalists a clear hook or catchy headline that will catch the attention of readers.
Your job is to find that angle. What idea in your book will get someone’s attention?
Here are four common news angles used in press releases:
1. Current Events
Does your book tie into something in the news right now? This could be news related to politics, government, sports, or entertainment.
If so, how does it relate? Do you have fresh insights? Does your data prove something unexpected?
2. Google or Social Media Trends
Tie your book into anything currently trending on social media. This could be anything from a fad diet or cultural meme to a major hashtag or social movement.
The more prominent the topic, the more likely it is that media outlets will think your book is of interest to their audiences.
Use Google Trends and the Twitter “#” tab to find out what topics are trending.
3. Gripping Stories
If your book has a gripping story, emphasize it.
How did your message save a life, turn a business around, or bring people together across the world?
What were some of the hardships you faced, and how did you overcome them?
What major events in your life got you to the place you’re at today?
Don’t fake drama, though. If you’ve written a straightforward business book, don’t play up an emotional angle just to get attention. People will see through it.
But if you do have a unique history, put it front and center.
4. Famous Endorsements
Endorsements signal exactly who a book is for and how wide its appeal might be. The more credibility and social status the endorser holds, the more powerful the endorsement.
If someone famous is talking about your book, use it to your advantage. Did you get feedback from a famous author? A TV star? A radio host? Someone prominent in your field?
Media outlets are more likely to pay attention to Authors who have the backing of another trusted public figure.
2. Write the Book Press Release
If you want media outlets to respond to your press release, it has to be properly formatted.
They don’t want to put much work into modifying it for syndication.
A good press release follows these guidelines and includes these parts:
Write in Third Person
Your press release should sound like a news story, not an advertisement.
Journalists use the press release as the basis for their coverage. They won’t take extra time to rewrite pieces written from an “I” perspective.
Press Release Headline
This is your hook. Use your news angle to catch the reader’s attention.
Keep it short and snappy. Aim for less than 20 words.
If you get stuck, think about what kinds of headlines grab your attention.
It might also help to think back to when you came up with your book title. Many of the same rules apply.
This is one sentence that gives a little more information about your book. Your purpose here is to expand on your news angle.
If the headline is like a movie teaser, the subheader is like the trailer. The headline piques the reader’s attention, while the subheader gives them a more substantial reason to keep reading.
List your city, state, country, and the date of the press release.
This goes in brackets before the first paragraph.
This is one of the most important parts of your press release. Lead with an impactful statement. Then get to the point.
Editors receive dozens of press releases a day. If you want yours to stand out, you have to show them from the outset why they should keep reading.
What benefits does your book offer their audience? What problems does it solve?
The purpose here is to inform, not promote. If your press release sounds too much like a sales pitch, you will lose credibility.
Remember, journalists want news.
They aren’t in the business of reviewing. They aren’t publicizing your book out of kindness. They need a real hook.
This can either be a quote from your book or an endorsement.
What you choose will depend on the book you wrote. You might pick something interesting, funny, controversial, or weighty.
Whatever you choose, it needs to be engaging and newsworthy. Avoid bland, generic, or dry quotes. Something might be interesting in context but boring on its own. For a press release, you should choose a powerful standalone statement.
This quote is representative of your whole book. The point is to choose something that matches the book’s tone and topic. Don’t choose a comedic punchline if you wrote a book about loss.
Short Author Bio (a.k.a., “Boilerplate”)
Unless you’re a household name like Steven King or J.K. Rowling, most people buying your book won’t know who you are or why to care. You have to tell them.
“Author reputation” is consistently cited as one of the main factors that influence a book-buying decision. If you’re seen as an authority on your book topic, journalists will pay more attention.
Mention your credentials and include achievements that build your credibility as an Author. Mention your Author website and any books you’ve written.
Don’t go overboard. Only include things that enhance your Author brand and convince readers to trust you. Put yourself in your their shoes, and ask, “Does this fact really matter to anyone but me?”
For a press release, the boilerplate should be less than 100 words.
For more tips, review the Author bio rules in my post.
The book description is your pitch to the reader about why they should care about your book. Just like a great cover design captures your eye immediately, every good book description you see is interesting from the first line.
Once you have their attention, describe the current pain the reader is in. What unsolved problems do they have? Or, what unachieved aspirations grand goals do they have?
Then tell them what the book does to help them solve this problem. Or even better, what the reader will get out of reading the book—how will their life transform because of this book?
Be clear about the benefits. You are selling a result to the reader, not a process (even though your book is the process). Explain exactly what the book is about, in clear, obvious terms.
Many Authors want to put everything about their book in this section. Don’t think of the book description as a synopsis.
Instead, it’s an advertisement or an elevator pitch. It’s designed to make people want to read your book.
Keep the writing simple. Use short, clear sentences. And keep the whole thing brief: 1-2 paragraphs max.
Include your website, email, phone number, and any social media handles that you regularly use.
For most self-published books, the Author is the point of contact for review copies. But if you’ve delegated that task to someone else, make that clear.
Call to Action (CTA)
What do you want to happen after someone reads your press release?
Should they visit your Author website? Are you inviting them to attend a special event? Do you want them to blog about your book? Invite you for an interview?
Be clear about your aim.
If you want your press release to look professional, it has to be properly edited. Double-check your content, format, and grammar. The point is to be clear, concise, and accurate.
It’s easy to miss things, so if you need help, here are some software recommendations to help you during the proofreading process.
3. Distribute the Release
You could send your press release to every individual news outlet.
That would be a mistake.
It’s more common to use a syndication service to get the word out quickly. When you pay a syndication service, they distribute the release to a network of media outlets.
Syndication services reach a wide audience. Some even have thousands of media outlets on their list.
But remember, views aren’t the same as reads. Just because a press release is sent to a media outlet, it doesn’t mean an editor or journalist will read it.
That’s why your press release needs to stand out if you want real engagement.
If you know your book would be a particularly good fit for a certain media outlet—maybe a publication for your specific industry—you might want to send the press release directly to them. You can even tweak it to highlight the specific angle that would work for that publication.
If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. That’s why it’s not uncommon for Authors to hire a publicist to manage their PR.
A publicist’s job is to get media coverage for your book.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean that hiring a publicist will get you on NBC, MSNBC, or CNN.
In fact, having a publicist doesn’t guarantee you’ll get any coverage at all.
Guarantees don’t exist in the PR world. If anyone tells you they do, they’re lying.
You pay a publicist to pitch your story to their media network. Their connections might be interested, or they might not.
Before you hire a publicist, consider whether they have successfully pitched stories like yours. For example, if their contacts are mostly in the entertainment world, they may not be a good fit for a business book.
Remember that a book press release should be part of a complete book marketing plan.
That includes hosting a dedicated book launch, creating an Amazon Author Central Page, getting social media attention, advertising, reaching out to your network to get reviews, and promoting the book.
Book promotion is not a one-and-done event.
4. Press Release Examples For Books
Example 1: Recently Released Book
The example below is a press release created by Crown Publishing:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Silent Agreements: How to Free Your Relationships of Unspoken Expectations
Drs. Linda D. Anderson, Sonia R. Banks, and Michele L. Owens
Imprint: Rodale Books
On sale: May 7, 2019
“Fear is a great silencer that restrains vulnerable engagement. . . . Silent Agreements unearth[s] this widespread phenomenon with great clarity and offer[s] a well-thought-out process that makes truth-sharing and healing possible.” —Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD, authors of Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples
Whether romantic, platonic, professional, or familial, the relationships in your life likely have bound you to silent agreements, the implicit “rules” of relationships that arise from unspoken beliefs and expectations that both parties hold. In their new book, Silent Agreements: How to Free Your Relationships of Unspoken Expectations (Rodale Books; Trade Paperback Original; $16.99; on sale May 7, 2019), clinical psychologists Drs. Linda D. Anderson, Sonia R. Banks, and Michele L. Owens will help readers define the silent expectations in their lives by supplying the tools needed to work toward healthier communication.
Many silent agreements might sound familiar: “My significant other should recognize when I need their help,” or “My boss doesn’t offer me a raise, and knows I won’t ask for one.” Silent agreements arise from long-held beliefs people have about themselves and the world around them, starting from their earliest experiences, which are reinforced as we grow and mature. These agreements can hinder our relationships, remaining undiscussed because of fear, aversion to conflict, feelings of obligation, or guilt. And because neither party will address the issue, silent agreements can cause unhappiness and resentment on both sides.
With stories and exercises, Drs. Anderson, Banks, and Owens teach readers how to navigate productive “clear the air” conversations that can lead to healthier relationships. In Silent Agreements, you will find comprehensive guidelines on how to have conversations about the most difficult topics in all relationships, including:
-Sex and commitment
-Money and the workplace
-Family relationships and our health
Readers will learn how to resolve the land-mine issues in their lives by exploring their own motivations and breaking the silences we perpetuate—knowingly or unknowingly—every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
LINDA D. ANDERSON, PhD, is a professor, organizational manager, clinician, and consulting psychologist. She earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University and has been in private practice for over 25 years, helping adults, adolescents, and children transform their lives.
SONIA R. BANKS, PhD, LCP, is a clinical and behavioral change consulting psychologist with over 25 years of experience in private practice and organizational impact. She applies research trends to relationship science in her work with adolescents, couples, families, communities, and organizational teams to support and build sustainable learning systems that advocate for their human potential.
MICHELE L. OWENS, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City with over 30 years of experience. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Case Western Reserve University and both master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology. She trains and mentors mental health professionals and presents workshops on subjects that include relationship enhancement, effective interpersonal communication, and living and working in a diverse world.
Example 2: Forthcoming Book
Here’s another example from Henry Holy and Company:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ON SALE: June 2020
For More Information Contact: Patricia Eisemann
VP, Executive Director of Publicity
Stacey Abrams to Write Book on Voter Suppression for Holt ‘Our Time is Now’ Scheduled for June 2020 Publication
New York, N.Y. – Jan. 7, 2020 – Stacey Abrams, the Atlanta-based politician who rose to national prominence when she ran for governor of Georgia in 2018, will write “Our Time is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America,” about ending voter suppression, it was announced today by Holt, the publisher of her previous nonfiction best-selling book, “Lead From the Outside” (published in hardcover as “Minority Leader”). Serena Jones, executive editor, will edit the new book, which was acquired from Linda Loewenthal at the Loewenthal Agency for North American and audio rights. Publication is scheduled for June 2020.
Stacey Abrams is a New York Times bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Minority Leader, in 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, when she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Abrams was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. Witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched Fair Fight to ensure every Georgian has a voice in our election system.
Abrams knows firsthand that voter suppression is plaguing America’s elections and undermining the democratic process, and that it shows no sign of abating unless there is immediate action. Her race against Brian Kemp in last year’s election for the governorship of Georgia was marred by voter suppression conducted by her opponent, who oversaw the election. In her new book, Abrams calls for action by voters to change the systems and bring true democracy to the polls.
“The future of our democracy depends on correcting all that is wrong with our elections process, including the insidious practice of voter suppression,” said Abrams. “And we must remind voters of their power to be seen and to demand action not simply on election days but every day.
Drawing on extensive national research from her voter rights organization, Fair Fight, as well as personal anecdotes from her own experiences, Abrams will implore voters to demand reforms before the 2020 elections in November. She believes firmly that all forms of voter suppression can be stopped by empowering the populace to act now and in effect, “Our Time is Now” will serve as a blueprint for this change.
For more information, visit www.staceyabrams.com.