Years of self-doubt and sweating in front of a computer screen have culminated in the realization of a lifelong dream. You’re holding your published book in your hands. Now, how to get it into the hands of readers?
The introvert population within the writing tribe trembles at the thought of self-promotion, but today’s publishing industry requires authors to be actively involved in marketing their books. Publication is the invitation to an exclusive party. Marketing is the obnoxious guy who points at you and yells, “Why are you being so quiet?”
One easy way to gain exposure is to write a press release. Social media gets a lot of attention as a marketing tool, but its predecessor deserves consideration as well. Here are ten simple steps to write a press release for the newspaper.
- Use the proper format. Write FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, in all caps, at the top of your press release. This lets journalists know they can print it right away.
- Write a short headline that captures local interest. For example, an author from Yukon, Oklahoma could write a headline for the Yukon Review that says, “Yukon resident releases debut novel.” If you work in a neighboring town, send your release there as well, but change the headline to reflect your connection to that community, such as “Mustang teacher releases first novel.”
- Begin the body of your release with a dateline. This includes your city and state (in all caps), and the date the release was written.
- Answer who and what in your intro. Give your name and the title of your book. Within the body of a press release, book titles are written in all caps. Add a tagline to pique readers’ interest. Who is your main character? What is she trying to accomplish, and who or what is stopping her? Try to work this information into one tightly written sentence.
- Tell readers where your book can be found. Amazon? Barnes and Noble? Publisher’s website? This is also a good place to list any awards your book may have won, pre or post publication.
- If you’ve got reader reviews, quote them!
- Add a short author bio. Include tidbits about your day job, interests, and family.
- Give your contact info. This can be combined with a call to action by saying, “Contact (author’s name) at (email address) or visit her website (link).”
- Back to formatting – end your press release with three hash symbols, centered at the bottom of your page.
- Research your local papers. It’s okay to swing for the fences and send your release to The Oklahoman or The Dallas Morning News, but don’t forget the smaller community papers. They are always looking for relevant, local news stories to print. Send your release to papers in your hometown, where you work, where you were born, where you graduated college. Papers in neighboring communities may print your release because of your proximity to them.
Remember to write your press release in third person point of view. It sounds more professional to readers, and helps deliver information that is difficult to convey when writing in first person.
Looking at examples of press releases by other authors is helpful in crafting your own. Here is the release I wrote for my novel Doubly Dead:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Yukon author releases debut novel
YUKON, OK, October 23, 2017 – Lisa Wessel, resident of Yukon, has released her first novel, a mystery entitled DOUBLY DEAD. The novel follows Sophie Cahill’s struggle against sabotage and her own family history as she attempts to launch Covenant Falls, Colorado’s first Founders Day.
Published by Bold Vision Books, DOUBLY DEAD is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Before publication, it won American Christian Fiction Writers 2014 First Impressions Contest.
Early reviewers say, “The book kept me in suspense until the very end,” and “It was a great mystery read with a love story for a sweet topping.”
In addition to writing, Lisa Wessel has spent twenty years in Oklahoma’s public schools. She’s taught elementary grades in OKCPS and Putnam City, and currently teaches third grade in Mustang Public School District. She lives in Yukon with her husband and son.
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A well-written press release is a prize for a journalist looking for copy. After all, you’ve done all the work for them. Make sure your release is publication ready. Before you hit send, double and triple check for misspellings and grammatical errors. When you are satisfied that it’s perfect, ask someone else to read it. Authors often miss mistakes because of their familiarity with their own work. They see what they expect to see. A beta reader can root out errors the author overlooked.
Being concise is key. Space is limited in small papers. However, if your release captures a journalist’s interest, he or she may request an interview to expand on it. These can be done in person or over the phone. The journalist will strive to work within your comfort zone.
Remember, you are trying to make it easy for journalists to publish your press release. Give them everything they need so they don’t have to request it. Send images or links to images along with your release. A professional head and shoulders shot of yourself, as well as a clear image file of your book cover will increase the chances of your release getting into print.
Don’t underestimate the power of a press release in a small paper. You never know where it will end up. A mom may pick it up in the dentist’s waiting room and tell her friend, “You have to read this book by my daughter’s teacher!” Your grandmother might pass it around the retirement center, and your uncle at the car dealership could give copies to customers.
To see how three different newspapers used my press release, visit my website, lisawessel.com. A press release is a simple way to net publicity for your book. No new skills are required. Writing is already an arrow in your quiver, so aim at your local papers and watch your readership grow.