Your book is about to be released, but how do you get the news out to the media? Draft an Industry-Standard Press Release for your book, develop a compelling message to the Press and Syndicate your Release Worldwide.
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What is Book Publicity?
Book publicity can be defined in one sentence.
It's using the media as a conduit to spread word of an author and book to general and/or target audiences.
It really is, in its simplest form, “you scratch their back, they scratch yours."
You, the author, offer great material or ideas for a story, article, broadcast interview, podcast, etc., and the host or editor “plugs” your book.
Common mistakes self-published authors make going into the process for the first time, are underestimating the time required to promote your book well and not following the generally accepted rules of engagement when reaching out to media.
The first thing you need to do is to write an engaging press release.
A press release is a news story. It is written in third person, has a catchy title and intro, an engaging discussion of the book’s topic, and contains at least one quote.
The thing to remember is that a press release is a story. What the book is about, why it is significant, and how it came to be written are all important components of a press release.
The competition for media attention is fierce. Make your release stand out from the crowd by accentuating what makes it unique, different and newsworthy. Virtually every book has an angle that should resonate with some media, and many authors have backgrounds that make them interesting and newsworthy. Find what makes your book and/or you unique, and run with it!
There are a fair few templates for press releases online but if you read the following guidance and look at some of the releases that have been distributed by publishing houses, you’ll get a good idea of the format and flow.
Here’s how to create a good Press Release.
It's Not Always About Your Book
Book promotion, for both non-fiction and fiction, is often more about the author than the book. Keep in mind that much of the time you’re marketing yourself as an expert/author to the media. When it comes to trying to get radio and TV interviews, remember, no one interviews a book! It’s about you and the meaningful information you can provide or discussion you can spark. Exposure for you equates to exposure for your book. This step is so important.
Understand What a press release is
A press release is a well-structured information sheet about your book release. Include your lovely cover designs and what the book is all about. Just as importantly, highlight yourself, why you wrote it, what experience you drew on, what learning you took from this experience.
Make it appealing. A news story is not going to just say, "New book out today from unknown author about a subject we don't really get.’
But they will say, “Author goes into a coma after falling off a Spanish mountain and wakes with story from nowhere.”
Write their headline for them.
OK, I know, a little over the top, but you see what I mean. Like everything to do with the written word, that written word needs to jump out and hit someone in the face.
And the more interesting the background story to the book is, the more likely it can bring up broader issues, popular issues. This increases the chances of being asked to interview for a radio show or even a TV show. Contribute to the thought leadership of the topic.
The Media Needs You
Editors and producers really do need and want you. Without book publicists and self-promoting (or self-published) authors, their jobs would be much harder. Keep this in mind when promoting your book. If you approach media appropriately, you aren't some annoying self-published author—you’re gold to them.
Maybe in an initial response an editor or producer won't respond, but don't let that discourage you. Change your mindset. Tell yourself that you are someone media need. Instead of promoting yourself, you’re selling yourself, and you’ll decide who to engage. This may sound simple, but it’s something all good book publicists do. Act important because you are important, and you’ll be seen as important.
Know Your Audience
You’re using the media to reach people who should be interested in your book, so you need to approach the right media—the outlets that cater to your end-user, i.e. readers. No book is right for everyone, for media or readers. Clearly define your audience so that you’re approaching the right media that cater to that audience.
For interviews on radio, television, and podcasts, offer book giveaways.
How about the author who fell off Spanish mountain and came out of a coma with the book’s story in his head? What if he decided to give the first 1000 books away free, part of his coma-induced dream state?
That’s appealing and a news story in itself. Do that in an interview and producers will love it.
Giveaways prompt call-ins to shows, spark listener questions, and they’re a great way to generate interest in your book. Giving away books to people who call in to a show often makes others believe the book must be special.
When you write to an agent with a submission, you don't say, ‘Dear Agent.' When you write to a reviewer, you don't say, 'Dear Reviewer.' You’ve researched them, their names and genres.
Communications must be personalised. If you personalise, they will respond.
When reaching out to journalists you believe should be interested in your book, take a few minutes to research what they’ve recently written about.
Go beyond, ‘Dear Sally.'
If you say, 'I know you covered ________ topic recently, so you might be interested in ________,' you dramatically increase your chances of getting a response. It shows the journalist you’re serious and you took the time to research them, and they will appreciate this.
Get it out there
After you have honed your press release, the next step is to send it to media outlets via press release distributors.
And, by the way, be sure to remember your local paper. Local authors are celebrities! And don’t wait until the last minute. If your local paper, for example, would like to include a photo, or get some quotes, you will need to give them sufficient advance notice.
Give everybody at least a couple of weeks and coincide that with your launch date.
Press Release Distribution
Most press release services charge a fee for distribution to the thousands of media channels that exist in print, on air, and on the net.
But there are a few that are free, and some only charge a nominal fee. Depending on where you want your press release to be distributed, you don’t have to spend a fortune.
It is worth the time to compare what each service offers in terms of paid and free distribution. Not only will a comparison give you an idea of how broadly your release can be distributed, it will let you know exactly where the press release will go.
PR Log (Free press release distribution service)
Free Press Release (Online distribution to search engines)
Press Box (UK)
Newswire (Free and paid services)
Open PR (German site)
Free Press Release Center (European site)
UK Prwire (UK news only)
Press Exposure 1
PR Mac (Listing on website, distribution to email list only. Offers paid services for broader distribution)
Online PR News (Appears on Google News. Offers paid services for broader distribution)
PR Fire (Based in UK)
PR Underground (Offers syndication to 100+ News Sites. Very affordable at $39)
Newswire (The paid service has a wide reach. Not cheap)
Pressat (UK based, quite comprehensive. Plans start at £110) E-releases (Plans range from $249-$499. More pricey plans guarantee distribution to hundreds of news outlets)
And you can and should continue to work in this area for the duration of your book’s life, to keep interested sparked.
Use Web Alerts
Identify keywords and phrases so you get alerted when a topic related to your book is in the news. News begets news; if a topic has been covered, chances are other outlets will cover it, and many editors, reporters, and producers like to do follow-up stories and interviews.
Stay on Top
Media love to hear from authors whose expertise can be used in stories or interviews regarding breaking news, trends, or fads. Stay on top of those stories.
Persistence and Patience
Book publicity is more marathon than sprint. Media coverage is not a one-and-done proposition—it must be sustained to spark book sales and generate other opportunities.
You will inevitably hear “no” more than “yes” when trying to secure media coverage. Every self-published author does. Every professional publicist does.
It’s the nature of book publicity.
Being interviewed and written about by others can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy the journey. Relish it. It’s business, but it really can be a blast.