Geoff from Carlisle says: I have self-published a novel and want to arrange some publicity. I got in touch with the local paper and the editor said to send in a press release. This is great, but I have no idea how to go about it.
A press release is an extremely effective way of garnering some free publicity. The main function of a press release from the newspaper’s point of view is slightly different to yours. You want it to promote your book; the newspaper is looking for newsworthy, interesting and pertinent information of benefit to its readers. So your press release won’t find favour if it comes across as a straightforward blatant advertisement for your book.
With a bit of luck, the editor will use your press release as the basis for a longer or shorter feature of their own. However, you need to bear in mind that it might get run it as it is – word for word. Because of this, you have to write your story as you would like to see it published. This means keeping it concise, pithy, but, above all, error-free.
Write in the third person, present it in double line spacing, use an acceptable font, such as Times New Roman or Arial and keep it to one page, if at all possible.
Write PRESS RELEASE in capitals and centre it at the top of the page. Below this, indicate when the release can be used. This will be the date when your book is available; if that is straight away, write ‘for immediate use’.
Under this comes the all-important headline which should describe the content of the press release in a nutshell. Sharp, concise, and amusing headlines are the most attention-grabbing. Type it in bold and centre it on the page.
The first paragraph contains a brief summary of what the press release is about and this is followed by more detail in consecutive paragraphs. Explain the book’s theme in a few words, what inspired you to write it, and your interests and experience in the field. Enliven the release by including a piece of information as a direct quote.
At the bottom of the page, write your contact details including a phone number and/or email address, so that you can be contacted immediately if the editor needs further information.
Include a picture of the book cover and a head and shoulders shot of yourself. Write a caption for each, and submit with the editorial.
It’s important to consider the timing of your press release. Magazines may not have space to include your editorial for several weeks, or longer, if it’s a monthly publication. Local press, on the other hand, might be persuaded to run the story to coincide with a book signing, an appearance on local radio, or a talk or demonstration held locally.