Writing a press release to accompany the launch of your latest book carries many positive benefits. Delivery via a given distribution’s service subscribers and RSS feed increases the chance of exposure to the right audience, not to mention the possibility of getting picked up and highlighted on premium sites. If you cringe at the thought of how to write a book press release, the template in this post will guide you through that process. On the other hand, you may prefer to hire someone to write one for you.
The examples included in this post are from a press release I wrote for Gerald Freeman’s memoir I Don’t Believe God Wrote the Bible. Gerald has become a familiar face around here as you may recall his author interview as well as posts on finding the right editor and great things that can happen in an author’s first year of publishing.
Press Release Definition
A press release is a news story written in the third-person. As such, a news angle must be present. A statement prepared for media distribution must offer more than a summary of the book to be considered useful to journalists. In short, the content of the news release should be useful, accurate, and interesting.
Press Release Format
The expected format for a press release is Associated Press style (AP). It is important to follow this format in order to even get the press release read. With a little practice, the expected form will become second nature. Just think how many potential press releases journalists comb through on a given day. Adhering to standard format is a win-win situation.
The press release should be on letterhead that provides the publisher’s name, website, address, and phone number. In the case of many indie authors this might be a micro-press of just one. Center and bold PRESS RELEASE in capital letters. Beneath that, provide the contact person’s e-mail and phone number. Include IMMEDIATE RELEASE in all caps aligned with the left margin.
Use a standard font like Times New Roman. If the press release goes onto another page, insert “more” at the bottom of the page and type “Page 2” on the upper-right of the next page. Do be advised that longer is not necessarily better, and one page should be sufficient. It’s standard practice to indicate the end of the press release with ### centered beneath the final line.
Press Release Title(s)
The title should be catchy and informative. Consider how keywords in the title are likely to be searched for online. Also, think about the particular distribution service you’ve targeted. In any case, don’t feel limited to using only one title. Change it up to meet various audiences and to increase the chances of various keyword searches showing up in search engines.
Press Release Content
The main content of the press release should start with the date and city where the information came from. In general, your goal should be to cover the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.
First Paragraph: briefly detail what the release is about—who, what, when, where, how, why
Lisbon, Portugal, February 14th, 2015 – Emerging artist and author Gerald Freeman has traveled the world to find peace within. Those experiences now appear in his Get a Life memoir series. The latest release, I Don’t Believe God Wrote the Bible, finds his younger self on a quest for spiritual enlightenment in France. A vagabond approach to travel makes it possible to discover what matters most in life.
Second Paragraph: who you are, why readers should care, and where and when the release will happen
Freeman, a teacher and sculptor, uses his writing to explore how his travels enabled him to make peace with the mental and physical abuse he endured while growing up. The most endearing memoirs not only entertain the reader with adventures, but offer insights on how to live. A print and e-book version is now available via Amazon.
Third Paragraph: Get more personal, perhaps via an author quote on the writing of the book or include a quote from someone involved (do not make it a testimonial since that’s advertising not publicity)
Readers of Freeman’s writing will connect with his directness. On the matter of truth in writing, the author responded, “I believe the very fact that the truth shocks people means there is a dire need for more of it in the world. By sharing our experiences on this planet Earth, we make each other stronger.”
Fourth Paragraph: summarize and re-enforce the news angle
While wanderlust drives Freeman’s series, the deeper implications of his memoirs shed light on the internal struggle everyone faces in forging an identity. Some of us just need to go to greater travel extremes than others on the path to self-discovery.
Fifth Paragraph: boilerplate info
Gerald Freeman follows his heart all over the planet so he can identify with people and share those experiences and emotions with readers. He also expresses himself through art, principally sculpture and has been selected as a “best pick” in an International Emerging Artist Award.
He is available for media interviews and can be reached via email at [email protected]. More information can be found at his author website: http://geraldfreeman.blogspot.com/.
Follow the link to read the press release in its entirety.
Press Release Distribution
Carefully consider what target audience of readers you intend to reach. A release in a national publication might reach more people, but submitting to a local newspaper, various local websites, television stations, and other groups and retail stores could prove more fruitful. Always be sure to contact the appropriate person.
Don’t overlook book bloggers or the power of YouTube. Plenty of distribution sites are online, so check out the links on this list as well as this list. In the future, I will also be able to submit releases to various places for clients. At the moment, I am focusing on become more familiar with the boggling number of distribution services.
Have you ever written a press release? What luck have you had with submitting them to various distribution services?
Meredith Wouters recently featured one of my Greek Isle photographs in one of her color palette over at The Palette Muse. Please stop by and check it out.
Image Credit: Help by Kosta Kostov
The book cover used in this post is for promotional purposes only and complies with fair use guidelines.
This is great information. I know s lot of people online and in my day to day contact that are starting and even finishing up books. I will pass this information on to them. I also know people who have made mistakes and it shows that this format wasn’t followers
Jay, please do pass this along. I had to read a ton of blog posts on writing press releases, and I think I managed to make a pretty succinct guide.
What great information and so succinctly illustrated in your example! I think when I need my press release, I’m going to take the easy way out and just hire you to write it for me:) That way, I will know I have the best!!!
Jacquie, it would be lovely to work with you again 🙂
What a great subject for a blog post Jeri, and I love the fact that you made it so practical with great links. I have written press releases in the past but it was a different world, pre- social
Media, so things have changed a little. Thanks for walking us through the process. Much appreciated. Bookmarked already.
A.K., Glad I could be of help. I always envision these types of posts as needing to illustrate the process with examples rather than just all explanations.
Thank you so much for yet another insight Jeri. The content in the press release you wrote for Gerald is beautifully written and accomplishes what you want a press release to accomplish; interest.
Jeri, I so much appreciate having this information that I can refer to when I actually want to write a press release for my book. I love that you gave a real example rather than just instructions. Thanks!
Beth, examples always help make explanations so much easier to follow. I’m just glad I wrote a press release recently for Gerry and could use that one for this post.
Concise and helpful! Thanks!
Charli, thanks for stopping by 🙂
Jeri love the way you made your points easy to read. I think one could also apply writing a press release about your company, an news release or product or update. Press releases are good PR in any business.
Arleen, the guidelines here can very well apply for press releases beyond just books. Eventually, I hope to branch out into more freelance writing now that the editing services I offer are starting to take on a life of their own.
You are a wealth of information! Thanks for sharing freely.
Anita, I’m happy to wrangle information for the benefit of others 🙂
What a wonderful press release you put together for Gerald ! My book manager put one together for me but I don’t think it generated any interest in the book. Clearly I need to pay more attention to how the book is being marketed (the story of my life!)
Jan, marketing is such a tricky beast and so much trial and error seems to be involved.
Timely post for me Jeri. My publisher sadly, is not going to write or distribute a press release. I’ll come back to this post either to hire you to do it or revisit the wonderful outline you’ve written about.
Patricia, interesting that a press release wasn’t in your publisher’s plan for getting word out about your book,but there are so many ways to spread word. A press release is a good tool for indie authors on their own no matter what.
What I can add to this is that I learnt two things from doing a press release. 1. My PR was rejected at first because I had left the date and location on the main body of the text. Many sites have a seperate section to add the time and location. Once I changed it, I was accepted. 2. I was required to create a professional email, which I had never done. They did not accept hotmail, Yahoo or gmail etc.. I was perplexed at first and did not even know my website could have an email. I looked into it and it was very easy, so I now have a business email and it was accepted immediately. I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible will have its first promo on March 21st-28th KDP countdown deal. I also only went with the free PR sites, perhaps it is worth paying for a good one… Great post!
Gerry, thanks for sharing additional tips with us. Now that I’m comfortable with writing press releases, my next step is to become more familiar with all of the various places they can be submitted to. Experience really is the best teacher.
Jeri — having spent almost my entire career in public relations I would conservatively estimate that I’ve written several thousand press releases. Some added pointers: it isn’t necessary to write “Press Release” at the top. The reporter will know what it is. I would advise sending your press release by email and not snail mail. Do not attach it (reporters won’t open an attachment) but type it in the body of the email. That way, hopefully, a reporter will cut-and-paste some of the content into his story.
Write a powerful “grabber” in the subject line. If you don’t have a list of reporters, use a press release mailing house. The use of press releases has fallen fairly dramatically in recent years. Unless you’re a company announcing a major new product launch or an acquisition PR people don’t sent out press releases, they send out “pitch letters.” The pitch letter, as it implies, will pitch a spokesperson — in this case the author — for an interview. Most reporters don’t want to use a press release that dozens of other reporters are also receiving. They want exclusivity.
Don’t think quantity, think quality. Better to have one review or interview in The New York Times, then a dozen stories in local media with small circulations. I could go on, but…..!
Jeannette, thanks for much for the extra insight and voice of a seasoned professional 🙂
Well, I don’t have a book at this point. In fact, I never thought I would want to write a book, but the idea has been creeping into my head lately. So you never know. This is some great information and I will definitely turn to this if I need to write a press release some day. Thanks!
Erica, isn’t it a great feeling when that initial idea for a book starts making itself known?
Thank you Jeri for your wonderful tips. I may be too limited to do it on my own, however with the tips you produced, if I ask for someone’s help then at least I know the process looks like. Thanks again!
Mahal, I’m glad you found my steps helpful in clarifying the process. It can be overwhelming at first that much is sure. So I did all of the leg-work and tried to streamline it for others.
This is a fabulous article. I would prefer to have someone like you create a press release on my behalf. It is time consuming, particularly when it has to be altered for different audiences. Thank you for the detailed and relevant information.
Michele, press releases are indeed time consuming even though they tend not to be very long. And what you point out about tailoring them to different audiences is so true.
This is such great information! I’m storing it away for the day when I finally write a book. I love how you’ve broken down each part specifically. It makes it seem much less intimidating. And thanks for the color palette shout-out!
Meredith, it must be the teacher and lesson planner in me that motivates me to break things down like this. It’s certainly is a helpful way to take someone through the process.
Jeri, I don’t imagine I’ll be writing anymore press releases but your information was right on. I used to write a lot of them when I was working, at least one a month and I basically followed what you stated. Using a similar format I don’t believe I ever had a press release rejected and many were printed exactly as I wrote them.
Lenie, it’s good to know you’re a press release pro and that the example I posted passed par 😉
One of the things you have to take into consideration when writing and distributing a press release is whether or not it is really for the press. If you are Keith Richards or Martha Stewart you might send a press release to national media and spark some interest, but if you aren’t, you are most likely to get pick up only if there is a local or professional angle. So if you live in Idaho and are sending a release to the Boise paper, be sure the headline is about “local Idaho author.” Or if you have some professional status and are sending the release to a publication that has a targeted audience, be sure to include that. One other tip to emphasize in writing a release is tell your story in the first graph, the first sentence if possible, because if you are sending to journalists, that and the headline could be all they see.
For most, however, I think the press release has become more of an online marketing document in itself rather than something that you can expect journalists to pick up and expound upon. That’s something to keep in mind when you look at distribution services. Lower cost services like PRWeb or eReleases really don’t have much cache with the media but are instead a way making the release available online and particularly to search engines.
Ken, thanks so much for chiming in along with the other voices of “experience” who have commented on this post 🙂
A cogent and correct post about press releases!
I cut my professional writing teeth on press releases —way, way back in the day and have written thousands of them. When I’ve written them for clients I find that I have to explain the format, just as you have. It’s about form following function and deviating from what the news outlets (in any arena) are expecting does not cut it.
Candy, do you ever have dreams about writing press releases since you’ve written so many of them? I’m joking in a way, but find I always dream about the things I spend the most of my time doing.
Fantastic as always Jeri and I always love reading your posts because I look forward to learning something new each time I’m here. Even if some areas have seemed “intimidating” at first, you are able to relate the topic to me in terms I can easily understand. I read the press release in it’s entirety and using a resume for example it’s so important to capture the reader in the first few seconds as of course you know. Do you think the press release would be better off being “cut down” a bit? Speaking of always learning while I’m here…Just Unfollow has been my new best friend. Thank you! Have an absolutely awesome day! 🙂
Talk about always learning sth here. I have been afraid to use justunfollow, it sounds so negative.
Mike, at about 250 words I think maybe another 50 could be cut down. More words can always be cut that’s for sure! Glad to hear you’re liking JustUnfollow. It makes managing your Twitter account so much easier.
This is a great post! Thanks for sharing. I wrote a few Press Releases with my first novel without really knowing what and how to do it. I found some free sites that allowed me to send them out. But this post details the setup of the press release. I’ll have to bookmark this one. Much appreciated.
I found one of my poor press releases: http://www.prlog.org/11788728-net-switch-gives-modern-day-chat-rooms-new-meaning-to-the-word-escape.html
Denise, thanks for sharing one of your earlier press releases. Isn’t it always amazing how much we learn as time goes by?
I wonder is this translates to any type of press release. I would suspect that most of it would.
Cheryl, the format for AP press releases is standardized. I was a bit shocked and amazed by all the book press release samples that didn’t follow AP format. All it takes is a bit of time, but it’s worth it to follow the right format.
Wonderful post Jeri. When I worked in the “corp” world I wrote press releases all the time, even won an award at a national conference for a press kit I designed. Then when I became a solopreneur it’s like the entire notion of a press release went “poof.” I’m sure it has something to do with there being a huge difference writing about a company vs writing about yourself. But this is a great reminder Jeri and I’m going to follow your lead and start practicing because I have a book launch coming up. Thanks for the inspiration!
Marquita, looking forward to the book launch!
Hi Jeri!…. Truly interesting… I had no idea that Press Release format might be used for writers, particularly when it comes to releasing a book… I thought it was more for political statements, complaints and or for those cases when the right to reply can be used (Note: the right to defend oneself against public criticism in the same venue where it was published).~
Good to know about the way to organize paragraphs too…
Thanks for this great post… I always learn when I visit your site. All my best wishes. Aquileana 😀
Aqui, could be you’re thinking of another type of release or statement? AP Press Release format is used all the time in journalism circles, though perhaps it can be used for political statements, though I will readily admit to not having much of a clue in that regard. In any case, I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂
As you know, being a new author, I love posts like this. My initial press release for my novel, Legend of the Mystic Knights, was done by my publisher but that was for the Kindle version of the novel. I am putting a paperback version soon, and I will use your ideas for my own press release. Thanks for sharing this.
William, congrats on getting ready to do a print version of your novel. I do hope my tips come in handy as well as the links I provided to various outlets that press releases can be submitted to.
What a great article, Jeri! Bookmarked for future reference. Thank you. 🙂
A.C., bookmarks are much appreciated. Hope things are good Down Under 😉
Very nicely broken down, with concise direction. A press release is a challenge, especially when a client wants to include everything except the kitchen sink. I’ve always thought the best press release leaves you thinking, hm, what else do I want to know about this? You have to hold something back, to give people a reason to contact you. And of course, distribution is an art unto itself! Thanks for these great tips and lists!
Krystyna, now that I’ve started to write press releases getting the lay of the land when it comes to distribution will undoubtedly take awhile. I’ve found press releases are a lot like query letter in that the tendency tends to be the desire to include the kitchen sink you’ve mention. Less really can be more when it comes to creating interest.
It is a great post and the thing I like the most is, you started with the definition of press release. It really helped me to understand what this really is about book. As normally when there is any news then there is press release. I was not sure about this.
I can understand that you must have taken a lot of time to research about all the points and paragraphs of press release. This post is very informative for anyone who is related to books and press releases. I have never written any press release and do not think so, I can do this. I feel its better to hire someone who knows about press release and do not try such stuff as this is really an important step for distribution and success of book.
Thank you for a great post.
Anna, as a fellow teacher I like how you note it’s helpful to put the definition up front. Too often people go about tasks without taking the time to properly define them or ask if they are doing it correctly.
This is some good info. If I decide to write a book I will definitely use it.
Jason, I bet you just might write a book one of these days…
It’s great that all of that info is right here. So many times lately I go looking for anything and I end up searching far and wide on the internet to end up frustrated and annoyed because so few places are willing to put the steps in easy to understand language. Thank you.
Hi Jeri!! You always have such helpful posts 🙂 I have written Press Releases for clients but then they take them and distribute them so I haven’t done that part. I think the title is the most important thing as it needs to catch the eye in order for the text to be read – otherwise it’s just overlooked, unfortunately. Everyone is just so busy and doesn’t want to take the time… but I would because I know you rock as a writer!!
Christy, I agree with titles being so important in catching a reader’s eye. I go through that everyday when I’m sharing Triberr posts. I pass over a lot of sharing on social media because of bad or not engaging titles.
(((( priceless.)))) Are you writing a book w/ all this information in, dear?
Kim, maybe someday I will gather my tips into a e-book for reader who subscribe for my blog, but that project idea is advancing at a glacial pace 😉
Hi Jeri, great, great post that I’m sure will who many write their press releases. Its like Press Releases for Dummies. I think you’ve laid it out so clearly, even I could write my own press release. Will I though? No. It’d be much easier to have you write it (and better I’m sure) 🙂
Susan, why thank you 🙂
I’ve never written a press release, though I’ve been too intimidated to do anything except type up something on my blog. Maybe someday I’ll reach out to the local paper. If I ever do end up in the paper, I’ll have to buy a copy. 🙂
Loni, that would be great if you put a release in a local paper, especially if you timed it to coincide with one of the book signings you’ve been doing.
Great information. Thank you. I’m going to bookmark this page for future reference.
Carrie, thanks for stopping by 🙂