Authors send out press releases to try to get people to buy their books, or to drum up bodies for a book signing (which is actually a promotion to produce sales of books), or to announce news, like contest wins (which are endorsements of the book or author which can increase sales), or to ... You get the idea.
As you write a press release, though, you can't look at it just from your point of view. If you did, your press release would say nothing but, "Buy my book. Buy my book. Thank you, Desperate Author." Or, possibly, like a button I have, it might read, "Buy my book or my editor will kill me."
You have to consider both the publication you're sending the press release to and its readership. Newspapers and magazines are not altruistic and very few are non-profit. If an editor reads your press release and comes away feeling as though all you're doing is trying to sell your book, he's liable to wad it up, two-point it into the trash, and mumble, "Buy an ad, buster."
Here are some overall points about press releases:
Check on each publication's deadline. In general, monthly publications can require a 3 to 5 month advance. Weeklies and dailies can need anywhere from a week to 2 months.
Keep it short, interesting, and professional. One page is preferable, two is the max. Try to keep it around 300 to 500 words. Don't make it goofy; but do make it interesting. Use short words and sentences. This is not a literary novel you're writing. Most likely, it's for a newspaper or a magazine. Did you know that the average educational level for a newspaper's readership is the 6th grade?
Use the proper formatting. Allow large margins for an editor to write or comment -- about one and a half inch margins. If the release runs two pages, avoid breaking in the middle of a paragraph, certainly don't break in the middle of a sentence. When you mail it, don't fold. More and more publications are accepting faxes and emails, some prefer to get them that way, but check first. Let the editor know your press release is finished by ending with either "-30-" or "###" centered as the last line.
Speaking of calling, always call first. That way you can check the guidelines, find out the fax number or correct email address, and get the correct spelling of the name to address the information to. Then you send the release, wait a few days, and do a follow-up call. Don't drive 'em crazy though.
Tomorrow … we’ll get to the press release itself.
6 months ago