How to Write a Great Press Release

Writing a book is no small feat and you should be proud of yourself for all the hard work you’ve done.  The next step is to let the world know about your story and where they can find it.  A good press release can be just the thing to spread the word quickly and generate some buzz around your work.  But what makes for a great press release?  These 10 tips should help.

Know Your Audience and Stick to the Facts: Most press releases will be read by a journalist.  They aren’t interested in being sold something or helping you drive visitors to your product page.  The best way to increase the likelihood that your release will be picked up is to do as much of the work for the journalist as possible.  Provide interesting facts, numbers, statistics from analysts, or quotes from yourself or your readers.  Do your research and include it in the release – anything you can do to provide unique, interesting information will increase your release’s credibility and its chances of being picked up.

Write in Third-Person: A press release is always written in third person because you are announcing news to a fresh audience and need to make the subject of your release as clear as possible.

Say Who or What in the First Line: Journalists are very very busy and receive tons of releases everyday.  A good release should be able to get your point across within the first paragraph because most journalists only have time to read that far. It isn’t always possible, but if you can mention the subject of your story within the first sentence, better yet, the first word of your press release, you can immediately set an expectation for what the release is about and if it is relevant to the reader.

Keep It Simple: Try to focus on one main point throughout your release – otherwise you risk confusing your reader.  A great press release should make the journalist want to call you to learn more, not scratch their heads halfway through.  A good rule of thumb to help is to keep your release down to one page and around 300 – 500 words.

Call to Action: Every release needs to finish with a call to action.  In many cases, with a book release, the call to action would be along the lines of:  “Jim Brown’s book, The Greatest Book Ever, is available at www.lulu.com.”  Or, “To learn more, visit www.lulu.com.” Without a call to action, readers will finish your release and say:  “Ok, now what?”

Avoid Buzzwords: A journalist is interested in finding the story in your release so they can write their own.  Buzzwords like “innovative,” “breakthrough,” “revolutionary,” are all an immediate turn-off to a journalist.  They are more interested in the facts that can back claims like this up.

Boilerplate: Every press release has a short, two to five sentence paragraph at the bottom called a “boilerplate.”  This is a high-level summary about the press release’s subject material.  For an author, think of it as a brief bio about yourself to give a journalist more information if they need it.  Items like how long you’ve been writing, where you’ve been featured, where readers can find your work, awards and accolades, etc. are all good things to mention in a boilerplate and establish yourself as a reputable source.

Think of a Catchy, Thought Provoking Title and Subheading: I list this close to the bottom because a great press release title should summarize the content of the release in one line.  A clever title can often be just the thing to catch a reader’s eye.  If you can’t think of anything catchy, then try to highlight the most interesting, exciting news from the body of the release. You don’t have to use subheadings, but they can be a great way to give just a little more detail about your release upfront.  This should be complimentary to your title, and aim to further hook the journalist into reading further.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Think of keywords associated with your work and the audience you want to reach.  Good SEO can help drive your release up further in search results on sites like Google and Yahoo!. Simply including keywords relevant to your subject will increase your release’s visibility.

Sending It Out: There are many ways to send out a press release.  I recommend a wire service like PRWeb, PRNewswire, or GlobeNewswire.  Services like this typically charge a one-time fee that lets you use their distribution lists and will let you optimize your release in multiple formats such as a PDF, HTML, or plain text to ensure you reach the most readers.  However, you may have your own list of contacts too.  Emailing a release to a journalist is fine, but remember, you don’t like to be spammed and they certainly don’t.  Emailing a journalist multiple times, addressing them by the wrong name, or sending them content that isn’t relevant to their field of coverage is a sure way to get yourself blacklisted from ever getting coverage from them.

Now that you’re ready to tell the world your story, feel free to use the handy press release template below.  Just copy and paste the layout into a document and plug in your own information. Note the “###” at the bottom.  This indicates the end of the release.  Also, if you mention Lulu, please be sure to include this line at the end of your boilerplate:  “The views and opinions expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Lulu.com or its affiliates.” For more examples, also check out the Lulu press center.

Press Release Template

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12 Comments

  1. This is a very interesting article, Keep up the great work.

  2. Hi AJ, is it necessary still to create a Press Release for an ebook, or are they only a requirement for a printed book?

    Also, and i’m sorry this is slightly unrelated to the above topic, I am looking at creating my ebook soon, which will be entirely images due to the abstract fonts I am using and graphic layout. It’s not a graphic novel, but it’s not far off. Anyway, I am wondering two important things.

    1) Can i make my indesign document the same size as a printed book (say, 6×9) so that I can use the one file for an ebook (i.e. RGB colours, rasterised images etc) and then duplicate the file, add 3mm bleed, CMYK etc for a print version in case i decide to print the book later? This saves me time obviously making a whole print document and a whole ebook document, IF i can use the a printed book size for an ebook, or must an ebook be made to a specific size for it that does not compute with print format?

    2) My first few publications will be illustrated poetry, and, like songs, I am concerned someone will read it, remember a line from a poem and not be able to search it because they can not recall the name of the poem and there is obviously no searchable text because the ebook is entirely images as pages. Now, can I either make the book again in single flow text and somehow float it behind the image-based ebook and link the pages of the single-flow text document to each corresponding image page in the image-based version? OR, can ereaders search alt’ tags? In which case, I could put the whole copy of one poem in the alt tag of that image/page in the image-based epub file so that it can search the image by text, much like a website. And, if this is possible, where in my code shall i place alt tags? Obviously in this instance, there would be no need for a single-flow text version of the book and would save me lots of work, fingers crossed.

    Cheers,

    J

  3. Aleksandar Krzavac

    Is Press Release enough for media exposure?
    I mean is it necessary to send media book excerpt too (dozen to twenty pages from book)?

    How would media professionals (journalists book critics and reviewers) know what they should present to readers, if they do not have, at least, book excerpt.

  4. AJ

    Aleksandar,

    The point of a press release is to provide journalists with a very simple, high-level story that peaks their interest and makes them want to call you for more information. Just like book editors don’t like receiving unsolicited materials, neither do journalists. I would only send them copies of your work or excerpts if they specifically ask. Failing that, you can also include a short snippet in your release if you can work it in, in a relevant and meaningful way.

  5. Hi AJ, Press release syndication is expensive. Is there a free method to distribute a press release?

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