Did you know that with a book press release, you can effectively get published by famous news agencies like Fox, NBC, ABC, etc..?
No, really…you can, and the truth is, it isn't as hard as you think.
As I'm going to show you in this article, just about anyone can get their name next to those big time news stations with little to no effort.
However, the real marketing magic comes when you know how to do the above well. When you get that, a press release for your book can be a game changer for your sales and authority – not just a pride metric like many use it for.
I'll explain it all below and show you how.
In this article, you'll learn:
- What is a book PR release – the good and the bad
- How to write a book press release
- Free book press release template
- Services and methods to get your PR in front of big agencies
WARNING: What I'm about to show you can be a very effective marketing tactic. But in the wrong hands or done without taste can easily be spammy and crummy. So, please use this knowledge for good and apply some of my Kindlepreneur principles as you step through this.
What Is a Book Press Release?
Back in the day when the news was only printed in newspapers, editors and writers had a certain amount of space they could fit a story. However, with the internet, that is not true.
Writers and journalists are always looking for good story opportunities to post on their publication's website – no matter the size or amount. In many cases, any legitimate story is better than no story.
So what does all this mean for you as an author?
Simply put, if you are able to package information about your book into a format which grabs a journalist’s attention, make it so they don't have to put much work into your article to publish it, and it seems like it would be of interest to their audience, then Bingo! You’ve won the holy grail of free publicity.
And in some cases, as we'll discuss later, there are new agency sub-affiliates that will accept just about anything – so long as it's a properly formatted press release.
So, how does this help us?
A book press release is a means by which you showcase your book to journalists and news organizations in an interesting manner. Basically, you're doing the work for the journalist or news publication by writing it for them. The best news is (pun intended) that most will actually accept the same news story that others have accepted, which is aptly known as mass syndication.
So, all you need is one good press release for your book and you're set. Simple, right?
What Makes a Great Press Release?
To write a successful press release you have to be newsworthy. Simply writing a book is not news. So, what are some of the ways you can spice up your book press release?
- A shocking or captivating author story
- A unique or fascinating book topic
- A rare or prestigious book award won
- An impressive or intimidating milestone
- An unconventional promotional effort
- An endorsement or link to something/someone famous
- Tying in your book with a “buzz” concept, e.g., millennials, gluten free, or any other “hot topic” that a journalist will see and think “yeah, people will click that.”
Now that you've got an understanding of what goes into a stellar book press release, let's look at a generic example that didn't work, and one that did that wasn't so generic.
Sometimes It Just Doesn't Work
For this article, we created our own example.
Using a standard package from PR Web, we created a generic Press Release by PR Web for an incredible book by Pamela Hodges called “How to Be a Cat.” This book is so fun and catchy that some of my favorite authors like Marion Roach Smith, Joe Bunting, Jeff Goins, and Steven Pressfield gave incredible endorsements.
But, guess what…the Press Release did nothing. It was picked up by only 4 syndicates and resulted in no direct increase in sales. $99 dollars down the drain.
So, what does this prove?
Even if you've got an amazing, super cool book that famous writers love, a generic press release under a generic package will do no good.
But let's see what happens when a twist of news occurs and a Press Release is the cause for major bank!
Sometimes it Does
A couple of years ago an author created a satirical erotica book focusing on Rob Gronkowski, a player for the New England Patriot's football team, called “A Gronking to Remember.”
This may come as no surprise, but the book wasn't exactly an instant hit, until it ran into some legal problems.
It turns out that the author used a picture of a couple who had just gotten engaged. When that couple found out their beloved picture was on the cover of this…well, not really sure what you'd call it…they were not very pleased.
However, a well-timed press release on the picture put this little book of….umm…whatever…right into the limelight. This caused the book sales to skyrocket and even had Rob Gronkowski himself do a fake TV trailer for a “Gronking to Remember” movie with HBO’s Funny Or Die. (Not shown here because it's pretty inappropriate – I've got standards.)
How To Write a PR For a Book
So now that you’ve seen the difference between a cleverly written PR versus a generic one, how exactly do you go about creating a press release for your book?
Thankfully, you don’t need to produce an evil political manifesto or write dubious football fan fiction! (wipe sweat from brow now)
However, you do need to know the format of a book press release and some best practice advice on writing one. Remember, a legitimate editor is more likely to accept a press release on your book if it's properly formatted and they don't have to do too much work on it.
Book Press Release Template
A press release for a book follows a fairly standard format which helps with its mass syndication:
It’s conventional to state FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE in bold, at the top of your press release.
- Headline – <20 words
- Subheading – Optional, but sentence length
- Dateline – Location and date (include your city/state/country)
- Intro – Needs to be attention-grabbing, can include a problem/solution hook
- Author Quotation – MUST be weighty, avoid bland, empty statements
- Mini Author Bio – Emphasis on ‘mini’ – 1-2 concise paragraphs, every sentence must be impactful
- Book Information – Similar to the author bio – 1-2 impactful paragraphs at most
- Contact Details – A place to include links to your website, email, phone number, social media, and, most importantly, how to get review copies
- Call To Action – It’s essential to end on a CTA, so pay due attention to this
- Optional Hashtags – Depending on your use of social, you can include hashtags here. Only do this if they will be used, though – nothing looks sadder than a hashtag with no one using it.
The conventional method for ending a press release is the hash symbol, three times, centered, like this:
Step 1: Use the Above Book PR Template
So now that you know the format of how your press release should look, how do you write a book press release?
We’ll go into each of section of the book press release template in turn. Always remember that you need to write like a journalist – not an author. Clear, concise communication is your guiding philosophy.
So, break out your favorite writing software, or Scrivener in my case, and let's begin.
Just as a book title needs to be carefully chosen to interest potential readers, a press release needs a well thought out headline to make it stand out from the endless press releases journalists deal with.
The basic concept is to write a headline which compels the reader to continue reading. This could be through creating intrigue, using the power of fear, or making a bold or unusual claim.
The intrigue/compulsion factor of your book press release headline needs to be balanced by some actual information. The best headlines both intrigue and inform – neither function can be ignored. My article on how to select the perfect book title can help with your headline selection as well as these writing tips for PR headlines.
Also, if you are coming up with dead ends, check out the list of book title generators. Most of these tools come from great headline and article title generators.
This is optional. Some press releases use a subheading; others don’t. If you think a subheading could help your book press release, make sure it is adding to it, rather than just restating the headline in a slightly different way.
A subheading can be a way to get the inform/intrigue balance right – if your headline is more heavily one function than the other, the subheading can be the place to compensate and redress the balance.
Pretty straightforward – write the date and location you are writing from. Don’t try and get clever here.
Other than the headline, this is the most important aspect of your book press release. You might want to lead with something impactful, such as a controversial statement or an emotionally engaging sentence related to the book you are promoting.
It’s also important to get to the point. Journalists scan press releases; they don’t read each one word for word. You need to avoid beating around the bush and include only pertinent information.
This could be something controversial, something interesting, or something emotionally engaging. Avoid at all costs something bland, vanilla or dry. It’s better to leave this out entirely if you can’t think of anything relevant.
It’s also important to make any author quote you use relevant to your book press release. If it’s a family friendly book, for example, avoid making a statement that could be seen as offensive or inappropriate. The press release for your book needs to work as a cohesive whole.
Mini Author Bio
This should be factual and to the point, but it doesn’t need to be boring. Consider finding unconventional ways to say conventional things. If you can make a journalist smile, you will stand a much greater chance of making an impression on them, and thus, having your book featured.
If you are targeting a press release to a particular journalist or publication, you should consider highlighting information about yourself that you think will appeal directly. The basic principle here is to say “Hi, look, I’m the kind of person your readers would love to know more about.”
Avoid hyperbole or cliche here. You want to convey solidly what your book is about and what it contains. Try and make the language punchy and descriptive. It should be easily understandable without being too dry and generic.
Be smart about this. If you have a Google+ that you never use, don’t include it. Email, phone number, and your website are the bare minimum here.
Call To Action
Failing to include a powerful call to action is like selling tickets to a speech you’re giving, packing the venue…and then saying nothing to the audience. If people have read to the end of your press release, it means you’ve engaged and interested them. Don’t waste that opportunity! Maybe you want people to visit your author page, attend a book launch event, or check out some other aspect of your author activities. Be clear about what your aim is.
The best call to actions are clear, direct, and urgent. Don’t include multiple calls to action – choose one and express it in the simplest, most direct way possible.
Step 2: Use a Syndication Service
Now that you have a press release, it's time to get it sent out to all those new agencies. This is called mass syndication. Luckily you don't have to do this by hand!
Just choose a syndication service, and they'll get it out there for you:
- PR Urgent: A free service also offering a 24-hour approval option for a single fee of $9.95
- PR Web: $99 for a basic service hosting your release on their site, or $159 to have your release sent out to “thousands of news outlets”
Sounds impressive, right? Talk about mass quantity!
But, as you might imagine, “reach” does not equal “read” or “conversion.” Here's a great article by someone who's press release had 12,000 online impressions – but only 300 real views!
The truth is, just because you wrote something (especially if it's generic) and it gets placed on a lot of syndicates, doesn't mean that people will purchase. Exposure doesn't mean sales. Instead, you need to create a newsworthy PR that is not only unique but catchy too.
When you do that, you've definitely got something. Let's look at some examples of how someone potentially used the PR system to explode their book.
Author Press Release Services
If creating an epic book press release scares you or you don't think you can come up with something, then I'd recommend finding a book publicist or checking out some of these special book press release services.
Warning: I have not tried any of these for my books but instead did research on what people were claiming.
PR For Books: This is a specialist, UK based book promotion company which currently charges just under $290 for their services. PR For Books sells their services on the basis that they are a specialist book marketing company with over a decade of experience. They claim to have a track record dealing with the most relevant sources of publicity for authors – book reviewers and literary media, for example.
Annie Jennings: This site has a wide range of media testimonials, although it is light on detail of exactly what you will get for your money, or even how much money you will be required to part with. The unique angle to this service seems to be a focus on connecting authors with media opportunities, such as TV and radio appearances.
Palamedes PR: This is a UK agency with a very nicely designed site, which is a pleasure to navigate. One aspect of Palamedes PR that is cool is their “price match guarantee.” They state that if you find a lower price for the same type of service elsewhere, they will match it.
PR By The Book: PR By The Book is a PR service based in Austin and Nashville. They state they are able to help authors with various aspects of their promotional efforts – from conventional press releases to advanced branding strategies.
Smith Publicity: Smith Publicity is another specialist book promotion service with a long track record and extensive list of testimonials. In order to get a quote from Smith Publicity, you need to contact them with your goals and budget to work with.
If any of those are too expensive, you can always try Fiverr or Upwork..but do your due diligence.
ADVANCED: One added Bonus to Press Releases
Have you ever seen another author's profile picture on LinkedIn or Facebook like this?
Or come across another author's website that touts the following for their work?
Let me demystify this…99.9% of the time, the author did a mass quantity PR release, and believe me when I say they are pretty easy to do.
The truth is that many of the authors who do this didn't get featured on the ABC or Fox that we know. Their book press release showed up on obscure sub-affiliates of these major websites, like NBC Milwaukee or something like that. It's still NBC, right? But not the one you immediately think of…sneaky sneaky.
Let's See It In Action
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Book Press Release Final Thoughts
You now know that a press release for your book can be a valuable way of gaining publicity at no extra cost.
You’ve seen the value in both targeting carefully chosen journalists and mass distributing your book press release in order to get “as featured on” bragging rights.
You know that writing an effective book press release is well within your skill set, provided you remember “a book release is not news” and seek an intriguing angle.
You also have a whole host of options for letting experts promote your book for you and generate publicity, no matter what your budget is.
So, what’s holding you back?
May the press be with you.