If you’re self-releasing a book, a press release is a mandatory part of the process. Certain self-publishers, like Outskirts Press, include press releases as part of their more-advanced packages, but this does not always include the writing of the press release itself – just its distribution – so understanding the fundamentals of writing a book press release is important. Here are simple steps you should take.
How to Write a Self-Published Press Release
The basic rules for press release writing is to keep it simple and keep it understated. Writing too many superlatives is not a sign that a book is great, but that the writer of the press release is an amateur: “The most significant book to be released in the last 30 years.” Unless you have a legitimate author blurb stating that fact, you don’t want to oversell the book.
Self-publishers are also on tricky ground in terms of revealing that a book is self-published. One thing that gets self-publishers into hot water is claiming that their book is “published” when in fact it is pay-for-published. Generally, you should not refer to yourself as “Published Author” because reviewers will see through this. At the same time, you want to keep the term “self-published” out of the press release as much as possible – unless the fact that it’s self published is part of the story (“Popular Author Self Publishes”).
Here are your basic press release tips.
1. Begin with FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE with the author’s contact information immediately below. A publisher’s imprint contact information appears more professional.
2. Write a headline: should be your ideal blurb for the book that sums up what you want to state in seven or eight words.
3. Date: Begin press release content with the date and state of the release (important for local papers).
4. The Press Release: You want a press release to be a page long. They say the same thing about a resume and the press release basically serves the same purpose – it’s your job interview for a writer to take your press release seriously or a reader to investigate the book. Basically, in the release you want to encapsulate not only what makes the book interesting, but why their should be a news article about the book.
The press release should read something like a news article, so a journalist will have an easy time picturing how a book would be featured as an article. What makes the book newsworthy? Why is the author newsworthy? Who is the author? Does the book appeal to a certain demographic or place?
Tips: Write in the first person and NEVER use the first person – this is patently unprofessional. Remember, the press release is supposed to sound objective, like a news article.
5. Author Biography: Include a concise author bio at the end, similar to the bio on back cover copy – potentially repeating some information in the press release, but it offers a summary of the author’s life and work.
Press Releases and Search Engine Optimization
Don’t worry if your press release does not get picked up by a local paper. Obviously this is ideal, but there is other value to distributing a press release as well. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of writing content so it shows up in search engines for specific searches.
The press release itself is like an article – so if a person types into Google “Cat health information” or “science fiction romance novel” your press release can come up in results if you’re careful about including the most important keyphrases in your press release content. This is a tricky balance, to be sure: having the press release both speak to journalists and readers, as well as having important keywords that will show up in search results. Overloading your press release with keyphrases is a bad idea, but this is a vital part of press release writing that is sometimes overlooked.
Including links in the press release to your author site and book page can increase the traffic to your sites – which is the first step in author visibility and increasing sales.
The Advantages of Paid Press Release Distribution
A service like PR Web will let you upload a press release for free. However, this does not include widespread distribution so you may want to sign up for a premium membership. If you do have a self-publishing plan that includes press release distribution, make sure that you’re not submitting duplicates. As there are hundreds of possible press-release outlets, your best bet is to use independent press release distribution in addition to whatever services are offered by your self-publishing company.
If your self-publisher does not have a press release package, or it’s limited, an enhanced press release distribution package will distribute your release through the Associated Press to U.S. newspapers, magazines, Yahoo News and Google, in addition to distribution to topic-specific websites and blogs. In this age of new media, it’s a vital way for self-publishers to gain visibility, even before they start generating reviews.
Note: even if you do not have a book for immediate release, you can use a site like PRWeb to bring traffic to your author site. For instance, your site may have had a recent update, like a template change. You could write a press release announcing the changes, driving traffic to your site.