The 4 Pillars of the Perfect Press Release for Authors
Get more press for your next book with our self-published author’s guide to the four pillars of the perfect press release.
There’s nothing like the feeling of your first book sale after all the hard work and time you poured into your own personal masterpiece.
Needless to say, there are quite a few details that go into the self-publishing journey besides simply writing your book: In addition to building your writing and editing skills, self-publishing a book puts you in the role of learning critical business and marketing skills, too.
You’ll learn things like how to set business goals, build your author brand, plan book signing and speaking events, and more. And amongst these skills, you’ll learn how to write a killer press release.
Press releases are professional letters meant to pique the interest of relevant media sources that can give your book attention: blogs, online publications, magazines, and more.
Gaining media exposure is crucial to getting your books in the hands of new readers. It shows that trusted sources have vetted and approved your work, and it expands your book’s reach beyond that of your usual circle of followers.
It’s important to learn the tricks of the trade before sending a press release. Simply alerting the press that you’ve written a book won’t get you far.
And if you happen to send a bad press release just for the sake of getting it out there, you might be destroying valuable media relations.
That’s why we’ve provided this author-specific guide to the 4 pillars of the perfect press release.
The Structure of an Author Press Release
Before we define the 4 pillars, let’s talk a bit about the overall structure of your book’s press release. Press releases shouldn’t get much longer than one page in length, divided into 4 sections:
- Your headline should paint a picture of what you’re promoting, and immediately grab the attention of the person you’re writing to.
- Think of it as answering the question, “Why should I care?”
- Use an active voice that evokes excitement or emotion.
- It might help to write the headline last, and let the content of the release guide you.
- Your intro or lead paragraph should answer the questions who, what, why, and when.
- Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. Continue to display why your work will be well-received or even groundbreaking for readers.
Two to Three Body Paragraphs
- Use these to dive a bit more into the details for your book: Who’s involved, and further details about the purpose.
- If you’re marketing a book release or other literary event, the invitation to the public should appear at the end of this section.
- Lastly, you’ll want to briefly highlight the background of the project or event you’re pitching.
- This is where you can include an author bio, a bit about your personal mission, and the inspiration for your creation.
Now let’s go over some tips to help you make the most of your next press release.
1. Make It Newsworthy
We hate to break it to you, but despite the fact that writing and self-publishing a book is a huge accomplishment, it’s not one that the media considers newsworthy. Unless, of course, you’ve got a hook.
There are over 4,500 books released every day. Media sources are bombarded with book releases, from both self-published and mainstream writers. That’s why it’s important to do your best to make your pitch unique to you and your author brand.
Ideas to make news of your new title more interesting to the press can include:
- Milestones: Like your 100th book, or an award won. Maybe another accomplishment that ties in to the theme of your book. Try to keep milestone pieces for local publications, as they’re more likely to publish them.
- Events: Throw a one-of-a-kind book release party, or a gala to raise funds for a cause that relates to your book. Press releases are a great way to invite people to your events.
- Studies: If a new study comes out that relates to the content of your book, it’s a great opportunity to highlight this news while leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to your work.
- Newsjacking: Similar to studies, if there’s a story in the news that relates to your book’s subject, go ahead and highlight it! You’ll just need to be fast so it’s timely.
2. Make Your Target Market Clear
You may have heard the common expression, “You can’t make everyone happy.” Or our personal favorite version: “You can’t make everyone happy. You are not pizza.”
This is especially true in marketing.
When creating a press release or asking for marketing help in any way, you need to be clear about which niche of readers your book appeals to. Make it clear to the media person you’re pitching to — as well as to their audience — who will benefit from what you’re pitching. Your statement can be short and sweet.
For example, Jeremy M. Eskanazi’s business book called The High Performance Talent Acquisition Advantage demonstrates how easy it can be to be clear and concise: “This book is for senior HR talent executives responsible for teams accountable for recruiting top talent.”
His statement makes it clear to the media and their readers exactly who will get the most out of his book, and doesn’t bother to please the masses.
3. Be Informative, Not Promotional
No one heads to their email inboxes eager to find a new ad or commercial. The same goes for journalists and their audiences.
Avoid sounding like a used car salesman by making sure your press release is informational more than self-promotional. In fact, you should prioritize information over your personal opinion as well.
Position yourself as an educator and influencer by showing the depth of your knowledge, not telling people about it.
4. Send it to People Within Your Niche
It’s as important to know the target market for media coverage of your book as it is to know the target market for your book’s readers.
For example, if you’ve written a business book, check to make sure you aren’t sending your press release to a fiction fan club. This saves you time (and embarrassment) while significantly increasing your chances of getting your press release published.
Set aside plenty of time to research the publications you’re pitching to before you send. Make sure they publish similar content and share your values as an author.
While you’re at it, research the individual you’ll be pitching to as well. Once you have a firm grasp of their style and ethos, it will be much easier to write a press release that feels personal to them.
Before You Send Your Press Release
Before you start racking up great press, you’ll want to be prepared for traffic to your author site and blog.
The last thing you’ll want is someone getting excited by an article about your book, then losing interest once they view your platforms.