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Writing a Press Release for Your Book

Kevin Ott
Newspaper Press Release

Writing a press release for your book combines a number of crucial skills you'll need to promote your book for the life of its publication. Visualize your press release with a breakdown of each component of the release, a sample release, and exclusive tips from an expert who works in a publishing house.

1. The Header

At the top of your press release will be a title in large header format. This header works the same way a title of a news article would work. It provides an attention-grabbing one-sentence summary of the book's release. It should:

  • Say "new" somewhere in the title
  • Include the title of the book (but not the subtitle) in all caps
  • Tells what the book does in an active voice
  • Speak in the third-person
  • If the book is about a person, don't use the person's proper name but use a noun such as "one woman" or "a hero."

Tip: Write in Third Person

Write the entire press release in third-person, even if it's for your own book. Also, a common practice is to include the words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE in all caps above the header described in this step.

2. The Hook

The first paragraph after the header works similar to the first sentence of your book: it hooks the reader. You shouldn't need more than two sentences. The hook can use the protagonist's proper name or the book's subject, and it should mention the primary conflict or life-changing event at the heart of the book. This paragraph will sometimes begin with the city and state where the press release originates.

3. The Summary

The second paragraph should only need a couple sentences as well. You will describe the book in more detail and give a brief but more comprehensive summary of what happens as the protagonist reacts to the life-changing event. If it's a nonfiction work, you will want to give more details about what the book's subject or story, and touch on each major point in the book.

Tip: Be Concise

Suzanne Niles, the Director of Relationship Development at BroadStreet Publishing, notes it's important to be concise. "Media gets bombarded with pitches," she shares and urges anyone writing a press release to both, "state a compelling reason" why the audience needs to hear what you have to share and "end with a strong statement" that tells how your book will answer a felt need of its audience.

4. The Primary Benefit

The third paragraph will focus specifically on the primary benefit of your book if it is a nonfiction work. You will explain the primary problem or question your book addresses and explain the key benefit the reader will receive from reading it. If you're promoting a fiction work, this is a nice place to put some quotes from other readers who loved your novel.

5. Secondary Benefits (for Nonfiction)

For nonfiction books, it's common to have a fourth paragraph that lists secondary benefits. This list will be a quick breakdown of bullet points the reader can scan.

6. The Closer

After the bullet points, you can include a final single sentence closer that sums up the book's general awesomeness or gives the reader a parting point to consider.

Tip: Include a Sample

Receptionist with medical record talking on telephone

Niles highlights a unique approach for making your book's press release stand out. Most media hosts don't have time to read an entire book, she says. So, create a digital sample of your work that highlights a couple of chapters with the book cover and table of contents. Include the sample as an attachment to give the media enough information to decide if the content will engage the audience.

7. Ordering Details

Below the closing sentence, you can list where readers can order the book online. You can also include links to images publications can use in their article about your book. You would want the link to take the person to a page that has your headshot (picture of you from the shoulders up) and your book cover art.

8. The 'About the Author' Section

The final ingredient is a full five-sentence paragraph that provides a brief bio of the author, written in the third-person. The first four sentences can mention your current career, relevant career history and accomplishments and academic background if relevant. The final sentence would be more personal and could mention how many family members you have and your hobbies.

9. Final Contact Details

Below the About the Author section, you can list contact details if the publisher has any additional questions about your press release or your book. Some press releases will have this contact information on the top if it is a printed letter. If you are sending the release in an email, you can include the contact information at the bottom. This allows the recipient to dive right in to the press release without a name and address block, which looks awkward at the top of an email.

Tip: Talking Points and Visual Media

Niles also gives the following advice about ways to make your press release stand out: "I highlight talking points so hosts and producers get a quick snapshot of [the] author's main message. This helps the host/producer to identify if the topic is something that will resonate with their audience. If I am submitting to a television show, I include a video clip so the producer can see how the talent presents on camera. A short video under two minutes is a huge selling point and a must in the current media culture."

Sample Press Release

Below is a sample you can use to jump-start your press release. To use, click on the image to open the printable. From there, you can edit and print, or save on your computer. If you need help, see this guide to working with Adobe printables.

A Winning Combination

The meatiest points about your book should jump out and hit the reader as they're scanning through the press release. The ultimate goal is to leave them wanting more, not wishing your press release would come to an end. Highlight the most important talking points and augment your press release with video content or book samples and you've got a winning combination.

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Writing a Press Release for Your Book