5 common book press release mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Every book needs a press release that announces its arrival.

A book press release is the essential media relations tool that accompanies review copies or tells the media and other key influencers that your book is available, among other things.

And yet, too many authors don’t know how to write one that communicates the right information to the right people.

As a result, they lose valuable opportunities for exposure by distributing a document that doesn’t have the right information in the accepted and expected format.

Avoid these 5 mistakes

Because of that, many authors make deadly mistakes that ensure that journalists delete their book press releases quickly, before they’re even read.

Here are the mistakes I see authors making most often and how to fix them.

1. Creating a highly designed document.

This will definitely help your announcement stand out, but it will also grease the path to the digital trash can.

Press releases follow a specific format that begins with an attention-getting headline and looks like a news article. If yours uses the format that reporters, editors, producers, and bloggers need and expect, your press release has a better chance of getting read and used.

If it uses multiple font styles and sizes, a two-column format, and reads like you’re trying to sell the book, it’s called “sales material,” not a press release.

Journalists don’t like sales material. They like editorial content. And that’s what you want to provide in your book announcement press release.

2. Putting the author’s name in the headline.

We invest a lot of ourselves in our books, but because none of us are J.K. Rowling or Malcolm Gladwell, journalists don’t know our names.

book press release 3

Savvy book publicists and authors use that valuable headline real estate to communicate important information about the book, not the author. That’s what you want to do, too.

3. E-mailing the press release as an attachment.

Most business e-mail users won’t open attachments because of concerns about viruses and other nasty problems.

I explain the correct way to do it in “How to e-mail a press release to journalists.”

4. Housing it on your website as a PDF file.

Journalists don’t like working with PDF files because they often lose all formatting when they copy and paste the information into a new file. That means they have to find and reinsert paragraph breaks, and so on.

book press release 2As soon as you create work for them, they lose interest (and who can blame them?). Give them what they want in the format they want. In this case, that’s text they can easily copy and paste.

Notice how easily you can copy and paste this article. That’s the goal for your press release.

Author Candy Harrington’s press room for her book, 22 Accessible Road Trips: Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, is an excellent example of how you want to do this. At that link, select “press release,” then click on each option.

5. Not proofreading your press release.

If your press release is loaded with blatant errors such as spelling a word in your title wrong (I’ve seen it) or other typographical or grammatical errors, you’re saying to the recipient: “I don’t care about quality.”

That will encourage people to question the quality of your book, too. That’s not your goal, so proofread carefully. If you’re not good at that, find someone who is to help you out.

How to write a book press release

As an author, you’re the best person to write your book announcement press release. The challenge for most is knowing:

  • The end goal — why this tool will help their book get noticed
  • What to include
  • What it should look like
  • How to use it effectively

Adazing mockup cover generatorHelp is here!

I’ve just updated my popular e-book, Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book. It walks you through the process step-by-step, gives you a template you can use to write yours, and offers 12 new examples of actual fiction and nonfiction book press releases so you know what yours should look like.

Get all the details on the book’s sales page, where you can learn more and purchase a snazzy PDF or the more ordinary Kindle version.

Taking the time to learn the right (and wrong!) way to write your book’s press release could make the difference between success and failure. It’s not hard when you know how to do it. When you follow the instructions in this book, you’ll have everything you need.

Do you have a question about book announcement press releases? Please ask it in a comment.

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  1. My latest book THE POWER OF LOVE wàs published by Bridge House Publishing in the UK on the 29th December 2019. It contains 18 short stories all about love of all kinds.
    In January I was rather unwell, so I didn’t do a press release for it. This was followed by Covid 19 and all the problems it brought with it.

    HVing seen your article re Press Releases, I was wondering whether it’s far too late to write one?

    1. That’s a great question, Phyllis. If you haven’t announced your book’s publication to the world yet, you can still do that, and a press release can be part of that plan.


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