Simple Steps to FREE Press Releases for Your Self-Published Book
Guest blogger Melissa Breau provides some insight into creating a press list and press releases for your book project.
How to Create Your Own Book Publicity
By Melissa Breau
Some authors write a book and it just explodes — the media picks it up, talks about it, reviews it. It becomes news and sales skyrocket. But the truth in publishing, as in life, is that you make your own luck.
If you want bloggers and members of the media to review your book, you must make them know it exists. That’s where a press release and a press list can be your best friends.
What Is a Press Release?
A press release is a document written specifically to notify members of the media of something newsworthy. It includes a summary of what the newsworthy event is (in this case the publication of your book or a reading you’re doing), the who, what, why, where, and when the newsworthy event is taking place and contact information so the recipient can get more information. It isn’t a sales pitch or gratuitous self-promotion.
How to Write a Press Release
A good press release is the sum of its parts. At the top, type the words PRESS RELEASE all in caps, then drop down a line and enter your contact information (company, your name, phone, email, and address). Beneath the contact information include a URL where journalists can find high-resolution images, such as your book cover design and an author headshot.
Next, add an appealing headline then either a short summary (1-2 sentences) in italics or begin the body of your press release. The body should start with a dateline — the date followed by your city, state. Now focus on the who, what, where, when, why (and, if possible, how) of your book’s release.
The main body is written in the upside-down-pyramid style — that is, a strong news lede with the most important information at the beginning and then less important information as the reader proceeds through the story (for sample book press releases, see here or here). Finish your release up with a brief About section. This is a concise author bio (previously published books, degrees or honors and anything else that is relevant) in 50 words or less.
What Is a Press List?
A press list is a listing of media (newspapers, blogs, etc.) that you send your press release to, including their contact information. It’s easy to put it in a spreadsheet.
You can always choose to submit your press release to a service which will distribute it for you—and sometimes these sites are great — generally, however, these sites send releases out without the careful targeting you can accomplish with a little bit of time and effort.
For authors, a press list might include:
- Bloggers who review books in your genre
- Websites that cover your book’s subject matter
- Local news outlets including newspapers, TV channels, or radio stations
- YouTube channels (assuming they are in some way relevant to your book)
How to Create a Press List
To create your own press list, begin by brainstorming. think about blogs, TV shows, radio programs, or other media outlets that you know do one of the following:
- Cover community and human interest or business news in your geographic area
- Cover news on your subject matter
- Cover book news.
Now grow that list by searching online. Look for news sources that cover your local town — they’ll often be happy to give mention local authors. Local independent bookstores may mention your book on their blog or let you do a reading or signing in their store. Chain book stores often accommodate local authors. Go through your list, adding as many potentially helpful websites, companies, and/or news outlets as you can.
If you can’t find an email address for one of the outlets on your list, you can call the company and ask the receptionist. No main phone number available? Check the company website for advertising contact info — ad sales people will almost always share information on how to submit a press release in hopes that you’ll also advertise at some point.
These sites run book releases, you can get started by exploring them.:
Melissa Breau spent three years as an editor at a magazine but in 2011 decided to launch full speed into the freelance life. She offers copywriting for small businesses and professional editing for authors, as well as blog posts on each of the above, over at melissabreau.com.