Preparing a press release is not as hard as it might seem, but there are some hard and fast rules. You will need a release to send to both on and off-line newspapers, magazines, ezines, newsletters, radio and television stations, press release sites and more.
First, you must determine your target audience. If you have written a self-help book for instance, then you target those publications that might like to know about your book. If it were a children’s book, you would target publications directed at parents and families. Once you determine this, you can then accumulate a list of on and off-line places where you plan to send your press release. Also, when sending a press release to a specific publication, be sure to address it to the right person. That may be the editor, submissions editor, section editor or book reviewer. If it ends up in the wrong hands, it might just go astray.
The most important part of your press release is your title or heading. This is what will capture or turn away potential media readers. For instance, you could write:
Rhode Island Author Releases Book On Depression
However, a better title would be:
Learn How To Beat Depression In Six Easy Steps
This title suggests that there is really something to know that will be beneficial to the reader and this is the sort of headline journalists look for, because they know how significant it can be.
Next, do not put a byline (i.e.) By Mary Smith. You will see the importance of this as we move on.
Writing the press release involves writing in the third person. This is very important. You want to make it sound like someone else wrote it about you, with quotes by you included. For instance, you don’t write:
My name is Mary Smith and my book Getting Out of Depression has just been accepted by Bugle Publishing of New York. I am a new author from Rhode Island, with a degree in psychology.
Instead, you write something like this:
Bugle Publishing of New York has just accepted a new book by Rhode Island author and psychologist, Mary Smith.
“This book will help anyone learn how to beat depression for good,” said Ms. Smith.
The words must appear as if a journalist has written a newsworthy article about you – a journalist who knows the importance of answering the questions: who, what, when, where and why. When you place yourself in the position of the journalist, you become invisible, thus better able to present the cold, hard facts.
The body of your press release must be short, factual and to the point. Extraneous words or sentences will lose the reader’s interest quickly. Do not get too technical. Do not use words like ‘unique,’ or brag about yourself or your book. Leave that to your reviewers later on. You must put your personal involvement and ego aside. The usual rule of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is very important here. Above all, do not use clichés or your press release will likely wind up in the “G” file or shredder. Do not include symbols, like trademarks and copyrights. It will just make the reader think about law and you don’t want to pull them away from the subject at hand.
Also, remember to keep your press release short - about six paragraphs in all. You will find that when you submit it to some of the on-line press release sites, their forms will not accept long write-ups. Editors of any publication will simply chop off the end of any release that does not fit their format, so save time by keeping your release short and sweet in the first place. That being said, you must make sure that the most vital information in your release comes first. Be sure to include your contact information (i.e.) phone number, e-mail address and/or web site URL as well.
If you’re sending your release to local media, instead of sending along an expensive glossy photo of your book, try just inserting the thumbnail into your letter when you prepare it on your computer. Also, I would not advise sending a copy of your book, unless you have made such an arrangement by telephone beforehand. Books tend to just disappear under a heap and if no interview or article results, you are going to feel cheated. However, in the event that the journalist does request a personal interview, be sure to give him some lead-time. They will need time to get together with you, conduct the interview and then go back to their office to write the story. The entire process will likely take a couple of weeks.
There are lots of sites on the web where you can send out your press release free of charge, including Free-Press-Release.com and Eword.Wire.com.