Or, How I Taught Myself Promotion
When you’re a small-time, self-published author like me you have to be your own PR department and take over everything from running a website to convincing bloggers to review your book. Throw into that list writing your own press releases.
Unless you’re super famous or have a topical book to promote you probably won’t see any stories in national newspapers and magazines about you or your book. But, just maybe, your local newspaper will be interested in printing a story about a local girl (or boy) who followed her (or his) dreams to publication. I believe it’s worth your time to write a press release and email it to your local journalists and news desks.
1. Start your email with your full contact info and a friendly greeting (personalized, if possible). You can find the appropriate editors and email addresses on the newspaper’s website.
2. Print FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE at the start to signal the journalist when the actual article begins and that it is news ready to be printed.
3. Write a catchy headline. This is the first impression most people will have of the article and, by extension, you and your book. I followed the same rule of thumb for billboards–7 words or less. And capitalize the first letter of each word.
4. At the beginning of the first paragraph print your location in all caps and then the date.
5. The first paragraph should have the most important information about you and your story and the reason you’re both interesting or topical enough to warrant printing the article. Think about the 5 W’s of journalism. And don’t forget quotes or snippets of reviews (if you have them). End with a hook. But you knew that one already!
6. The next one or two paragraphs give more information on you, your story, and your book. But keep the whole thing short and snappy. Shoot for between 200 and 500 words.
7. Include where the book is available and add a link to your website or blog.
8. Attach your cover art or an author photo.
9. End the press release with ### to let journalists know the article is finished.
10. Final reminders: Write the release in the 3rd person and the way a non-partial professional journalist would write it. It should look like other, similar stories printed in that publication. And don’t be afraid to send a new press release out if your novel suddenly becomes topical or you can link it to a current event.
If you’re a new author and you’re not sure how to get the word out about your book, a nicely worded press release to the local paper can wield positive results.