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New school press releases for authors

What information should you include in a press release?

The answer depends on what you’re announcing. Press releases, also known as news releases, always announce news. The biggest announcement most authors will make is that their book has been published. You’ll share that news in a press release sent with review copies, etc. (Learn more on that in “Why you must have a press release that announces your book.”)

Some of what we include in a press release, and how we present it, is changing as social media evolves and becomes more and more important. The basics are still the same: Your press release must focus on the benefits to the reader and the content must be well-written and interesting. But we can do more than that — we can make our press releases more “shareable” now.

New school rules

Sarah Skerik, vice president of content marketing at press release distribution company PR Newswire and the author of the company’s free e-book, New School Press Release Tactics, shared tips in a PR Daily article, “New-school ways to grab attention with your press releases.” (By the way, the article is a great example of what authors do on virtual book tours.)

Her tips apply to authors seeking book publicity, but they’re not written for authors. They’re written for savvy PR pros who write and distribute press releases for a living.

With that in mind, I’ve pulled out a few of the tactics in the article that you can implement without having a PR degree or super social media savvy. The tips I’ve selected are based on my experiences with authors I work with in one of my courses or through one-on-one coaching.

New tactics to try

For the most part, authors aren’t highly sophisticated with their social media usage — for example, telling them to “embed a click-to-tweet link” within the press release is going to generate panic. I mean, really, what teacher-by-day, author-by-night knows how to do that?

I think most authors can implement the three tactics from the article that I’m sharing here, though:

  • Encourage on-the-spot social sharing. Skerik recommends highlighting key messages and embedding a “tweet this” function (see above), but I think adding social media sharing icons with plug-ins like DiggDigg or AddThis is more realistic for the typical author.
  • Write a tweetable headline of 100 characters or fewer.
  • Employ bullet points to highlight key points and draw readers’ eyes deeper into the copy.

While you’re at it, don’t limit yourself to writing only a press release that announces your book. Find or create other newsworthy developments to announce in a press release so that your book title continues to appear in the news.

Have you written a press release for your book that wasn’t a book publication announcement? What was the topic?

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  1. I write a newspaper column about books that’s in the feature section of the paper. When I use a press release, I want something that reads like a feature story, not an advertisement. That means that any opinion needs to be in a direct quote from a named person. It means that quotes from reviews need a name, not just ‘a reviewer on Amazon.’ The usual outline I use for a feature story is:
    What the book is about
    quotes from the author about why they wrote it, what inspired it, or what need it meets.
    the author’s past publications and qualifications
    the average star rating on Amazon.
    Quotes from reviews
    purchase info: isbn, binding, price, where to buy
    Author web site and social media

    1. Thanks so much, Paula, for your helpful suggestions. Every author would love to have a feature story appear in a newspaper about his/her book and you’ve given us some excellent advise on how to increase our chances of just that.

      Nothing like advice from one who knows!

      Judith Marshall
      Author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever,” optioned for the big screen

  2. Thank you both Sandra and Paula for your helpful tips. Since I’m in the process of writing a press release for an appearance speaking on my published book as well as one for a soon to be released book, it came at a very good time. Still looking for any tips for marketing children’s picture books. Happy to get any ideas, as I’m new to this!

    1. I’m glad it was helpful, Theresa. Also, as an FYI, my friend Dana has a great training program on how to sell children’s books — you can learn more on this blog post I wrote about it: http://bit.ly/VnsfcA


  3. Something I discovered when my first book went from an ebook to a paperback was this: A lot of newspapers now want to know what connection the author has to their area before they’ll print a press release. (I was born and raised in Maine, so I was a little surprised that just being an author from the state DIDN’T count as a “local connection” for a lot of the small town newspapers.) Make sure to note, either in your release or your cover letter, why you feel a connection to the town you’re hoping to post the press release in.

    1. Good point, Debi. Thanks. Unless you’re a super successful author, most newspapers need a very local connection and they need you to make that clear to them.

      I’ll add a tip to this that might help nonfiction authors — if you interviewed others for your book and they’re quoted or referenced, send a press release to THEIR hometown paper, too, with the “local expert contributes to book” angle. It’s a good way to expand your exposure when you’ve got that option.

      Also, both nonfiction and fiction authors should be sending out tip sheet-type press releases. Learn more about them here: http://buildbookbuzz.com/boost-your-book-publicity-success-with-tip-sheets/ .


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