Author How-To: The Art of the Press Release

(looks up at this post’s title) The press release might not be an actual art, but there are definite reasons and rules.

Pardon my virtual mess. I’m sweeping up from my latest press release. Yeah, press releases aren’t fun. In fact, they’re drier than dust to create, but they’re a necessary evil, albeit one that might or might not bear any fruit.

So why bother with a press release for your newest novel?

  • Getting the information out there
  • You’re proud of all your hard work
  • Someone out there might be listening
  • You might actually get some coverage

These are all good points, but here’s the flip-side to the above, the sad reality for most authors, including me.

  • No one is probably listening.
  • News agencies, even small ones, receive hundreds if not thousands of press releases per day.
  • You’re low priority because you’re not exciting or newsworthy (over 4K books are released in the U.S. alone each day).
  • Sending a press release to major agencies costs a lot of money.

Wait, don’t go. It isn’t hopeless, I promise. Let’s break that second sad list down a bit. Maybe that’ll help us both.

  • No one is probably listening – this is the reason you should tailor your press release to your audience. Who cares? For me, my last release was a locally set novel so I aimed for local media. Newspapers, TV stations, local magazines, the alumni magazine for the university I attended. Out of fifteen releases sent, two replied and shared the info – a local newspaper and my university’s alumni magazine. Not too bad. Free publicity – you can’t beat that.
  • News agencies receive hundreds if not thousands of press releases per day – That’s true so know going in that this is going to be an uphill battle. Tailoring helps. Know who’ll be apt to read your work and go from there. Investigate your contacts, but don’t hound them. Most want email releases so do a little research as to where to send the release.
  • You’re low priority because you’re not exciting or newsworthy (over 4K books are released in the U.S. along each day) – This is true, especially with the rise in self-publishing. Sorry, neither of us is special. That’s just the way it is. Again, tailoring helps this. Zone in on your target market.
  • Sending a press release to major agencies costs a lot of money – Yes, and you’ll get buried by all the other news by important people like “celebrities.” That said, why pay out hundreds for something that won’t work? Yes, there are some online press agencies that’ll post your info for free or for a small fee but, based on what I’ve learned, they’re widely unresponsive and ineffective.

This is rapidly becoming a depressing blog post but hold on. I’ve got a couple of reasons you should do a press release.

  • It might well get you some coverage.
  • You have to try.
  • Whether you’re an indie author or a traditionally published author, you’re your own best promoter, so go to it!

So how do you write a press release? What goes in it? The KISS method works best. And there are any number of sites and templates out there to tell you how to create a press release. You can use them or use my image and example as a template. That’s up to you, but I will say that mine is tailored specifically for a small press or indie author releasing a new title. Regardless, press releases are all about the same. Simple and with any glitz whatsoever.

Here are a few more tips before I share my image and example.

  • Research who you’re sending this to (do a little research as to email addresses because, yes, most of your press releases will be sent through email)
  • Use a standard font and color.
  • Put your press release in the body of the email (attachments will land you straight in the trash).
  • Be clever if you wish, but be ever-so polite and don’t try to be cutsie
  • Don’t follow up (this might be frowned on even more than the attachment I mentioned above).
  • Some people suggest following up with a written version of the press release, but I don’t bother. Chances are low anyway, and I’ll not be out the cost of printing, an envelope, and a stamp.
  • Proofread your press release, read it aloud, and have someone else read it. All three are crucial.
  • No pictures, covers, sparkles, or sprinkles are needed. Let your press release stand on its own.

And here’s a template for you in jpg form.

And here’s the press release for my last novel.

Minor success describes how a press release works for me, but how will it work for you?

You never know until you try.

Read more posts from Jeanne’s Author How-To Series

 

Vintage Typewriter Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Author How-To: The Art of the Press Release

  1. I’m sorry your press release wasn’t fun. 😦 I really feel they should be. Marketing is much easier if we can find the fun. Thank you for offering the sample document…this was an excellent example of how to pitch something.

    Liked by 1 person

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